I love this Lebanese salad made with roughly cut tomatoes, green peppers, onions, scallions, fresh mint, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil. The flavors are unusual and the texture varied. Every Middle Eastern restaurant now makes its own version. Lebanese-born Ramzi Osseiran showed me some of the vegetables he uses, and I incorporated them into my own recipe. Like panzanella, fattoush was created as a way to use up day-old bread, soaking it in the dressing and serving it with vegetables. I sprinkle sumac on top, a tangy spice from a red berry. Start with a teaspoon and work your way up, flavoring to taste. When fresh pomegranates are available, sprinkle the seeds on top.
- 1 whole pita bread
- 1 large tomato, diced, seeds removed
- ¼ red onion, diced
- 1 yellow pepper, halved and cut into long strips
- 1 red pepper, halved and cut into long strips
- 1 cucumber, peeled and cut in rounds
- 1 bunch radishes (about 5), sliced
- 2 scallions, chopped, both white and green parts
- 1 head of romaine lettuce, purslane, or other wild greens, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 handful (about ¼ cup) coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 4 teaspoons pomegranate syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1-3 teaspoons ground sumac (available in Middle Eastern markets)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Separate the pita into 2 rounds and bake on a cookie sheet for about 5 minutes or until very crisp but not browned. Set aside.
2. Put the tomato, red onion, peppers, cucumber, radishes, and scallions into a large salad bowl. Add the romaine or purslane and the fresh mint and sprinkle over the dried mint. Toss with your hands.
3. To make the dressing, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate syrup, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Just before serving, give the dressing another quick whisk and then pour it over the vegetables and work it in with your hands.
4. Break the pita halves into roughly 1-inch pieces and, at the last moment before taking the bowl to the table, sprinkle with some of the sumac and toss the pita gently into the salad. Taste, add more sumac or other seasonings if you want, and serve right away; otherwise the pita chips will get soggy.