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Recipe #21: Fatt(o)ush (Syrian Bread Salad)

Posted Aug 29 2007 12:00am

As promised, here's another fiber-rich recipe that will delight your senses. I just made this recipe as a side for tonight's dinner.

I'm sure many of you have had fattush (or fattoush) before, especially if you've ever gone to a Lebanese, Persian, or other Middle Eastern or Mediterranean restaurant. If you haven't, it's kind of like the Middle Eastern version of panzanella. Fatt(o)ush is especially refreshing to eat during the hot summer months.

Here are some recipe prep tips
if you are preparing this dish in advance for the next day, or aren't planning to serve this dish until several hours later, I'd recommend waiting to add the tomatoes until the dish is served. That way, the salad stays crisp. (No one like soggy salad! Yuck!) What I usually do is cut up the tomatoes, put them in a plastic-wrap-covered bowl, & toss them in the frig until I need them.

Also, as an alternative suggestion for those trying to curb their carbs, you can also leave out the pita bread all together. It still tastes really good without the pita bread.....

At restaurants, I've also had it served on a bed of lettuce, which is yet another alternative serving suggestion. (See below for some illustrations of this example.)



So, without further delay, here's the recipe for fatt(o)ush


Fatt(o)ush

(Recipe source: The Middle Eastern Kitchen: 75 Essential Ingredients With Over 150 Authentic Recipes, by Ghillie Başan.)

Serves 4-6. (Of course, I cut the recipe & make it for 2 people.)
Preparation time: 20-25 minutes (unless you're a fast chopper like me! ;-) )

Ingredients:
1 onion, halved & sliced (NOTE: I personally like to only use 1/2 an onion; also I'd suggest using a red onion, which is sweeter.)
1 cucumber, peeled & halved lengthwise, & then sliced (NOTE: I leave the skin on, as there are lots of vitamins, not to mention more fiber, & it gives the dish an extra crunch!)
3 tomatoes, peeled & chopped (Again, I think it's silly to peel tomatoes, as most people eat salads in which tomatoes still have their skins.)
1 sweet (i.e., red/yellow/orange) pepper, halved & sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped (NOTE: I use 3-4 medium-sized cloves for a zestier flavor.)
A bunch (Italian) flat-leaf parsley, chopped (NOTE: Make sure you use fresh parsley. You can't substitute dried for fresh in this particular recipe; it won't taste the same.)
A small bunch mint, chopped (NOTE: In this case, you can, in fact, substitute dried mint if you don't have fresh.)
1 pita bread
4-5 Tbsp olive oil (NOTE: For health reasons, I'd suggest paring this down to 1 Tbsp & using one of those spray can dispersers, or omitting the olive oil all together. I usually omit the oil & it tastes better/crisper. I don't like my fatt(o)ush to be greasy or soggy. I know it's a personal preference, but it's also healthier this way.)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & ground pepper (NOTE: I use coarsely ground pepper for more texture.)
A little sumac (NOTE: I like to sprinkle on the sumac quite liberally. You can find sumac at any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern store worth their salt.)

Instructions:

Put the onion, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, & garlic in a bowl with chopped herbs.
Open the pita bread, toast it until crisp, then break it into little pieces & add it to the bowl.
Toss in the olive oil & lemon juice, season to taste, adding more olive oil or lemon juice if necessary/desired, & serve, sprinkled with a little ground sumac.

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