Sunday, May 30, 2010

fattoush—the "other" favorite authentic lebanese salad

although tabbouli is probably my favorite lebanese salad and is so popular and well known, not to mention super nutritious, fattoush is a close second. mama said this arabic word comes from the arabic word "fatte" meaning "broken up" or "pieces", which in this salad refers to the broken pieces of arabic bread that are crisped and added to the salad just before tossing.

it had been too long since i made fattoush, so i made it for a small dinner party recently and it was so fabulous that i keep making it. it's much easier to make than tabbouli, which i often crave at this spring time of year, when the parsley and mint in my garden are thriving in oregon rain. both salads include these two herbs along with green onions and a dressing of fresh squeezed lemons and olive oil. no garlic! recipes for both are in alice's kitchen: traditional lebanese cooking, of course!

the ingredients for alice's fattoush are: romaine lettuce, cucumbers, green onion, parsley, spearmint, sumac (optional), purslane (when it's available in the summer just shows up as a weed! and known by latinos as verdolaga), tomatoes, and toasted arabic bread.

the reddish-brown sprinkling on the bread is ground sumac berries that give the fattoush a zesty tart flavor. often used instead of lemon juice, sumac is typically used in fattoush especially to marinate onions, removing the sharp edge of raw onion.

using leftover, dry bread in pieces is the arabic version of adding croutons to a salad. you can see i've used a very flat bread instead of thicker pita bread, which would be fine, but i prefer the thinner bread: khoobz markouk or an armenian lavosh. the bread is toasted lightly to crisp it up and is added to the salad just before dressing and tossing, as it will get soggy if it sits too long, so timing is everything in this recipe. sorry the photo is fuzzy! i was in a big hurry to take blog photos as my little dinner party was just about to begin. thanks to my dear friend, pam, who took a couple of photos and made the fantastic deviled eggs, here's the table without the main entreé of lebanese broiled chicken over rice:

marinated broiled chicken served over brown rice, topped with sauteéd nuts—a mixture of slivered almonds, pine nuts, and pistachio nuts—then sprinkled with cinnamon, and served with a dish of homemade lebanese aioli (garlic mayonnaise—toum ou zeit) is a classic lebanese favorite from alice's kitchen.

the salad before adding the broken arabic bread using canned organic diced tomatoes...

...instead of out-of-season tomatoes trucked north from south of the border is a new discovery that has been surprisingly delicious and is more sustainable. what convinced me most about using canned organic tomatoes is that they are picked when they're sun-vine-ripened, so they're very sweet and tasty. 

this dinner included the colorful beet salad and hommus featured in a recent blog post. watch for an upcoming blog enty about making the garlic mayonnaise, which is divine and a little tricky, but sooooo worth it!

a follow up note about my fava beans planted in february: they're blooming beautifully! will add a photo soon! 

happy cooking and sahtein!

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