Monday, 10 July 2017


When we were in Windsor recently we got a fattoush salad from a take-out restaurant and enjoyed it. I was already thinking about making some fattoush when I saw this recipe for it at The Guardian. This was quite different from the one we had just had which, lets face it, was mostly lettuce. But apparently a lot of people just don't put lettuce into fattoush at all, and that suits me fine. Our lettuce has all gone bitter. I am not a big fan of lettuce and tomatoes together in a salad, and I think this is part of the reason - they are just not at any kind of peak quality at the same time; one or the other is bound to be not good.

Felicity Cloake does not douse her pita breads in za'atar but the version we had in Windsor did, and that's what made it a good salad even if the rest of it was pretty heavy on the lettuce.

So, lets talk about the sumac, which is one of the things that makes fattoush distinctive. It's a hard thing to get around here. It is also a spice that doesn't keep well. Once I get my hot little hands on some I wrap it well and keep it in the freezer. I also tend to call for it with a heavier hand than most recipes, mostly because it is likely to have faded some in flavour before I get it. If you can get fresh sumac and think I am calling for too much, by all means cut it back.

I was amused to see that purslane is a traditional ingredient. I was putting purslane and cucumbers into salad this time last year, although nothing so elaborate as this. Reinventing the wheel, as they say. I've still got purslane even if it isn't as far along this year as it was last year, but I expect it will get big fast now that it seems to be warming and drying up some.

We 2 ate it all with a few cold cuts and some cheese on the side, but it would serve up to 6 as part of a more elaborate meal.

2 to 6 servings
40 minutes prep time

Fattoush Salad

Prepare the Bread:
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons ground sumac
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 pita breads, stale is fine
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Mince the thyme and mix it with the sesame seeds, sumac, and salt in a small bowl.

Put the pita breads on a baking tray, possibly lined with parchment paper. Brush olive oil all over them, both sides, and sprinkle with the herb mixture (za'atar) on both sides. Put the tray in the oven and toast until the breads are lightly brown and quite crisp. They may bend a little but once they are out and cool they should crisp up. Brush them with a little more olive oil - both sides again - when they come out of the oven.

Let them cool then break them  up by hand into bite-sized pieces. You can make the dressing while they cool.

Make the Dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground sumac
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
the juice of 1 medium lemon

Mix all of the above in a jam jar or small bowl and shake or whisk until blended.

Make the Salad:
2 to 3 small middle-eastern type cucumbers
2 large ripe tomatoes
1 small white onion, with greens attached
6 to 10 radishes
1 cup purslane leaves (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Wash, trim, maybe peel, and cut the cucumber into chunks - in half or quarters lengthwise, then into thick slices. Peel (if you like) the tomatoes, and cut them into similar chunks. All this is getting tossed into a mixing bowl as  you go...

Wash trim, and slice the onion. If it is strong, sprinkle it with a little salt and set it aside as you do the rest, then rinse and drain it and add it. You can chop up the greens finely and add them too. Wash and trim the radishes, and cut them in quarters.

Wash the purslane and pick it over carefully, removing any roots, debris, and tough stems. Add to the salad. Rinse and mince the parsley and mint, again discarding any tough stems.

Toss the vegetables. Then, just before serving, toss in the pieces of pita bread. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve at once. 

 Last year at this time I made Cucumber & Purslane Salad.


RuckusButt said...

I love fattoush! Haven't had it in a long time so I think it's time I make my own. Sadly, my own garden is so behind this year, no veggies of my own to use yet. Fortunately we get home delivery from a local organic farm. We have quite recently discovered sumac and have been enjoying its addition to our spices, so I'm happy for another use. I hadn't yet noticed it's short shelf-life, so thanks for the tip. I get ours at Bulk Barn and it always seems fresh but I likely wouldn't know better since that's the only place I've bought it!

Ferdzy said...

Yes, I got mine at Bulk Barn too. It helps if you are in a neighbourhood where it will have good turn-over. And yes, our garden is very behind too. Looks like we are going to be inundated with Zucchini and beans any moment though. Also I still have some pita (thin naan, actually)in the freezer and I have found a big patch of purslane so I intend to make fattoush again soon.