Thursday, September 10, 2009

Recipe for Fattoush (Lebanese Crumbled Bread Salad with Sumac and Pita Chips)

Recipe for Fattoush (Lebanese Crumbled Bread Salad with Sumac and Pita Chips
Fattoush is a Lebanese "Crumbled Bread" Salad that's flavored with lemon juice and Sumac.

It's only been four days since a reader named Lori send me this recipe for Fattoush, but I've made the salad three times and it's already become one of my go-to summer salads when I have tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, and mint in the garden. Thank you Lori for this wonderful recipe, and now I'm kicking myself for all the times I saw Fattoush on a restaurant menu or another blog and never tried it!

Fattoush is a Lebanese version of bread salad that includes crumbled pita chips, (fattoush means "crumbled bread" in Arabic) and all the ingredients are tossed with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing that's seasoned with powdered Sumac, an ingredient I've known about for a long time but haven't used too much. Sumac (soo-mack) has a slightly lemony flavor, and it's the Sumac, the lemon, and the fresh herbs that really bump this salad up to something memorable you'll want to make over and over.

Start by smashing together garlic and salt into a paste to season the dressing. I use the mortar and pestle, but you can do this with the side of a knife or a spoon.

Here's the Sumac I bought at South End Formaggio in Boston when I was visiting Lydia. You can probably find it at ethnic grocery stores, but if it's not available where you live you can order it from Amazon.com, The Spice House, or Penzeys. (Full disclosure: Kalyn's Kitchen does earn a few cents on the dollar when you purchase through the link to Amazon.com., thanks!)

Mix together the garlic-salt paste, lemon juice, and Sumac, and then whisk in the olive oil. This dressing will keep in the fridge for several days so you might want to make extra!

By the third time making Fattoush, I realized I definitely liked the pita chips best when I cut them into strips for toasting, creating more crisp edges. Watch them carefully, because they can quickly get too brown.

I didn't want to dirty another dish, so I just crumbled the pita on the baking sheet. This is enough pita chips for 4 large salads, and pita chips are another thing you could make extra and store in a glass jar for a day or so if you want to prep the salad ingredients ahead. (I wouldn't keep them longer than a few days.)

Remove outer leaves from the romaine lettuce, wash and dry, and then chop romaine by cutting it into fourths lengthwise and slicing crosswise for fairly smallish pieces. I like to go for "symmetry of cut" so I cut the lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes into same-size pieces. (This photo is only one head romaine, to make 2 large salads.)

Dice the tomatoes and let drain for a minute if they're extra juicy, but don't drain away all the juice, which will flavor the pita chips in the salad. Lori recommended Roma tomatoes, which I didn't have, but for one of my salads I used grape tomatoes from Costco cut into fourths, which I thought were perfect. (This photo is only 1/2 cup chopped tomato, enough for 2 large salads.)

I had cucumbers from my garden, so I left strips of skin on before chopping, but if your cucumbers have a thick skin I would peel them completely. (This photo is only 1/2 cup cucumbers, enough to make 2 large salads.)

Linda's recipe didn't call for mint, but I saw several recipes that used it and I love the flavor of mint and parsley together. (This photo is only 1/2 cup chopped mint and parsley combined, enough for 2 large salads.) The salad also includes sliced green onion, which I forgot to take a photo of!

Toss the salad vegetables and herbs together, then toss with about half of the dressing, add the pita chips and toss again, adding a little more dressing. (The salad should be quite wet when it's served so the pita chips can absorb the dressing.) Let salad sit for a few minutes, or longer, then arrange on individual plates and sprinkle each serving with a bit more Sumac if desired. Enjoy!

Fattoush (Lebanese "Crumbled Bread" Salad with Sumac and Pita Chips)
(Makes 4 large main-dish salads or 6 small side salads; slightly adapted from recipe sent to me by a reader named Lori. Thanks Lori, I love the salad!)

Ingredients:
2 whole wheat pita pocket breads, cut into strips about 3/4 inch wide, then toasted and crumbled
2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup diced tomatoes (let drain a minute or two if extra juicy)
1 cup diced cucumber (same size as tomatoes)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley (leaves only, no stems)
optional ingredients: chopped green pepper or radishes (I didn't use either of these but Lori's recipe had green peppers and I saw several recipes that added chopped radishes.)

Dressing Ingredients:
1 tsp. chopped garlic (2-4 cloves garlic)
1 tsp. salt (I used fine grind sea salt)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, about 2 large lemons (I love lemon, so adjust the amount to your own taste)
1 tsp. powdered Sumac, plus more for sprinkling on individual salads if desired)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:
Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400F/200C. While oven heats, mash together the chopped garlic and salt using a mortar and pestle, or the side of a knife or spoon. Put garlic-salt paste in a small bowl, then add lemon juice and 1 tsp. Sumac. Whisk in olive oil and set dressing aside. (You can also make the dressing in a glass jar and shake to combine.)

Cut whole wheat pita into strips about 3/4 inch wide and arrange on baking sheet. (Some recipes call for brushing the pita with olive oil, but I didn't do that.) Bake until pita strips are crisp but only barely starting to brown, less than 10 minutes. Watch carefully because they can go from crisp to overly brown rather quickly.

Remove outer leaves from Romaine, trim stem end, then wash and spin dry or dry with paper towels. Cut Romaine into fourths lengthwise, then turn and chop crosswise into small pieces. (If you have a salad spinner, you can chop the Romaine first, then wash.) Put chopped Romaine into salad bowl large enough toss all ingredients.

Chop tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, mint, and parsley and add to lettuce. Add about half of the dressing and toss, then add crumbled pita chops and toss again with more dressing. (You may not want all the dressing, but this salad should be quite wet.) At this point the salad should sit for a few minutes (or longer) to let flavors blend and so the pita chips absorb some of the dressing. To serve, arrange salad on individual plates and sprinkle with a bit more Sumac. You can also serve it in a large bowl with the Sumac sprinkled over.

When I first tested the recipe I made enough for two large salads, ate one for dinner, and put the rest in the fridge overnight. I was surprised how great it still tasted the next day, even though the vegetables were fairly wilted. When I made this for guests I tossed the salad together before they arrived, and it was perfect when I served it about 30 minutes later.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Made with whole what pita chips, this salad is a great option for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. Even though the pita chips are great in this, I'd enjoy it as a phase 1 salad without the pita as well. If you serve this as a side salad, it would taste great with something like Kubideh, Hamburger Kebabs, or Kalyn's Souvlaki.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Bloggers Around the World Make Fattoush:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Fattoush - Lebanese Traditional Salad from Hommos & Tabbouli (Lebanese recipe blog)
Fattoush from Desert Candy (blog of Middle Eastern recipes)
Fattoush Salad from The Culinary Chase
Fattoush: Lebanese Veggie Salad from A Veggie Venture
Fattoush Salad from The Leftover Queen
Fattoush from Morsels and Musings
Fattoush from Cook (almost) Everything At Least Once
Fattoush from The Parsley Thief
Fattoush and Lebanese Food from Saffron Trail
Lamb Kofte and Fattoush from Dinner Diary
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosures:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

This recipe featuring the interesting Sumac, plus lots of other veggies and herbs, is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, reigning herb queen and manage of WHB. You can always find out who's hosting Weekend Herb Blogging in the sidebar of Haalo's blog if you'd like to participate.
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46 comments:

  1. That looks delish, I have never heard of Sumac as a seasoning! Something new to try!

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  2. Mm, I adore fattoush. Last time I made it I used some roasted jalapeno in there as well -- actually went a little overboard with it, but I think a gentle hand with some hot pepper goes a long way for this salad. Good stuff!

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  3. I love this salad! Sumac is such a lovely spice as well! Great post, kalyn.

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  4. LoveFeastTable, Sumac tastes a bit like lemon juice, very tasty. I think it's used on grilled meat in the middle east, which I need to try.

    Sean, love the idea of a little hot pepper in this. It's just so good!

    Anh, thanks. I agree about the Sumac, I see a lot more of it in my future!

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  5. This looks delicious! Had I stumbled on your blog sooner, I would have included this salad in my recent Mediterranean inspired dinner I prepared! Great blog and thank you for stopping my mine :)

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  6. Great salad, Kalyn! I can see why it became your go-to salad. I think the mint was a great addition. BTW, you cut romaine lettuce the same way I do. I always cut and wash several heads at once so I can make a salad at a moment's notice.

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  7. Joelen, your blog was great, think I found you from Tastespotting.

    Dara, I have to admit that since I have braces I'm chopping my lettuce pieces a bit smaller, but I've been cutting it that way for a while!

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  8. Oh my i love love this salad.... i have to try this very soon - thank you so much

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  9. I never tried Sumac in bread, I used it only in chicken.

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  10. There's something about middle eastern flavors that really appeal to me! Sounds delicious.

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  11. What a refreshing looking salad, Kalyn. It reminds me a little of Italian panzanella salad! I can see why you're having it so often!

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  12. OMG! I love fattoush! Can't wait to make my own. Thanks for the recipe.

    Paz

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  13. Hi Kalyn! Isn't this a delicious salad! My kids love it & is equally nice if you sprinkle some Dukkah over it. Cheers!

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  14. The Sumac is in the dressing, not in the bread, just to clarify that. I'm heading out to buy one of those big Costco packs of lettuce and some pita so I can make this for a party tomorrow! Glad people are liking it. (Now I wish I had Dukkah so I could try that with it too.)

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  15. This looks wonderful! I'm a huge fan of mediterranean/middle eastern flavors. I even think this would be enjoyed by my hubby who is the family cook, but tends not to use these kinds of seasonings.

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  16. carole with an "e" in NYCSeptember 11, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    Kalyn
    Just bought the sumac on Amazon. This looks really nice and I look forward to tasting it. Thanks for keeping us all on our toes with your delightful posts.

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  17. Maggie, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't like this. I wish I had some to eat right now!

    Carole, thanks! Hope you'll love the salad as much as I did. Now I'm thinking about using Sumac in a marinade for chicken (another idea from Lori.)

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  18. This is one of my favorite salads. I love lebanese food and can't resist a great Fattoush. And you can't make it without sumac. Have a great week-end :)

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  19. It's awesome to see a recipe that uses sumac! I bought a container of this tasty spice about a year ago at an Israeli grocery store and I'm always looking for more ways to use it. One of the other great uses I've found is as a substitute for paprika in blackened whitefish recipes -- delicious!

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  20. Helene, I agree, can't imagine this could be nearly as good without the Sumac.

    Rachel, love your idea for using Sumac instead of paprika, sounds wonderful.

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  21. This has been popping up all over! I've got to give it a try.

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  22. I've never made this before- looking forward to trying it! Need to find the Sumac first though...
    Thanks as always for a great recipe Kalyn!

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  23. LOVED this salad! I can't wait to recreate it!

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  24. I want to thank you SOOOO much for your wonderful recipes...and the links to other great cooks through their blogs. I am not following a South Beach or Atkins diet per se...but perhaps I am. I just had gastric bypass surgery (in July) and am learning how to cook all over again, and your fresh approach has been a Godsend! I have to eat small servings of high protein, very low sugar & fat meals and your site has saved me. A million thanks! SueZ

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  25. Sue, you're welcome. It makes me happy to know the blog is helping you.

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  26. Definitely not a dish that I can get fat while eating. ;)
    It sounds like it though.

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  27. Yum! I adore Lebanese food, reminds me of all the delish food I ate as a little kid!

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  28. Fattoush is one of my all-time favorite salads, and a great way to use up slightly stale pita bread. Most recently, I enjoyed fattoush at a restaurant called Al Arabe -- in Diamantina, Brazil! There was mint in that version, too, and it was delicious and refreshing.

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  29. carole with an "e" in NYCSeptember 18, 2009 at 6:43 AM

    Kalyn
    My Sumac ARRIVED in the mail yesterday and I'm ready to make this salad on Sunday. Cannot wait. Thanks again for this recipe.

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  30. Carole, Enjoy!! I'm going to try some other experiments with sumac too.

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  31. Thanks for this great recipe. I've always wondered what the red spice in those yummy restaurant salads was. Sumac! I'll get some asap & use it a lot, I think.

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  32. what a wonderful salad!!! seriously!

    I made it for a dinner party and I was hoping for left-overs...but everyone finished it. and now I've been thinking about it all week.

    I couldn't find the Sumac, but it was still wonderful without it.

    Great job!

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  33. looks delish! good work. i would add nuts to it... they fight cancer!

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  34. I followed your recipe but cut back on the dressing a bit. This is the best salad I have ever had in my life. I'd never used Sumac before...that and the mint are essential. ThANKS!

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  35. So glad you liked it. I agree that the sumac is essential!

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  36. This is one of my favorite salad. I love to use sumac. Such a great spice.

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  37. I can't wait to make this version of this salad this weekend! I love fattoush salad and have just recently found a mediterranean store that carries sumac. Yum!!! Thanks for posting the recipe - I love this salad!0

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  38. Me too, and so glad you found the sumac, it's just not the same without it!

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  39. Oooh a new use for sumac, I know who's off to the kitchen right now! Thanks for the recipe :)

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  40. I just had my first taste of fattoush salad last week in Akko, Israel. I couldn't stop eating it! I made the dressing and love it. It's very similar to the dressing here in Israel. Thanks!

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  41. I made this salad over the weekend and loved. I even posted it only blog. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

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  42. I add honey to the dressing and also include yellow pepper and olives in the salad. I promise you that this will make it that much better!

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  43. Huge fan of fattoush salad, I have always added Zaatar in addition to the sumac. I put all the ingredients in a container with a lid and shake well. Zaatar is a spice blend of Thyme,sesame seeds and Sumac and has a lemony taste. For breakfast have a fresh piece of pita, a ramekin of olive oil, dip the bread in the oil then dip the bread into the Zaatar. YUM!!!

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  44. I do know about Za'atar, just never used it in Fattoush. But I can't imagine why it wouldn't be a lovely addition to it!

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