There are times when you simply need a light and healthy timeout. When the weather is hot and cooking is out of the question, or if you’ve been overindulging in meaty protein since the onset of grilling season, a simple salad presents a welcome break. Especially when it’s a fattoush salad.
Fattoush is a traditional Levantine salad. It’s a garden salad and a bread salad at once, brimming with fresh greens and garden vegetables, studded with feta cheese and olives, and tumbled with shards of crispy pita bread. It’s a light, bright and remarkably satisfying dish, thanks to the convergence of textures and salty, briny flavors. The pita pieces serve as “croutons” and soak up a puckery dressing infused with lemon and sumac.
Sumac may be the spice you didn’t know you needed. It’s a tart red berry that is dried, ground and used for cooking in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Sumac has a distinct sharp and floral flavor and imparts a tang to dressings, marinades and seasonings for meat and vegetables. Unlike lemons or vinegar, it’s neither bitter nor acidic, yet it imparts an acidic and citrusy note when added to a dish. It also is a vibrant garnish, thanks to its garnet color.
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 pita breads, each about 6 inches
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a press
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried sumac
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 head romaine (or 2 little gems), torn into bite-size pieces
1 cup baby arugula
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
Sumac for sprinkling
Heat the oven broiler or grill. Lightly brush the pita bread with olive oil and cut each pita into 6 wedges. Broil or grill until light golden and crisp. Remove from the heat, cool to the touch and break into bite-size pieces.
Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl until emulsified.
Combine the salad ingredients and the pita in a large bowl. Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette to your taste and toss again. Serve garnished with additional feta and a sprinkle of sumac.
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