One of my favorite restaurant dishes, made at home… and it’s easier than you might think! Jump to the fattoush salad recipe here, or read on and get it at the bottom of this post.
Fattoush has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, my mother and I would go to this little middle-eastern place on the outskirts of town and share one of their giant chicken shawarma sandwiches, and a big plate of fattoush salad. To this day it’s one of our favorite traditions.
The ingredients that make up fattoush salad could not be more basic — romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon and olive oil — and yet, for all these years, I’ve thought of it as one of those mysterious dishes I’d never be able to replicate at home. The recipe seemed shrouded in exotic mystique, and I was resigned to eating it only at restaurants. Until now, that is.
The only thing you need to make this salad that (most likely) isn’t in your fridge or pantry already, is dried sumac. I know what you’re thinking, but no, this is NOT poison sumac — dried sumac is a spice made of the dried berries of the sumac plant, and it’s used often in middle eastern cooking to add a bright, tart, almost citrusy flavor… and it happens to be the thing that makes fattoush dressing so special (and up until now, so mysterious.)
When I spotted sumac powder at The Spice House in Geneva (hands down my favorite place to get spices), the lightbulb went off, and I knew I had to make this salad at home. I believe The Spice House is affiliated with Penzey’s Spices, so if you have one of those around, or another dedicated spice merchant, I highly recommend popping in — getting to talk to people who really know their stuff, and being able to buy just small amounts of what you need instead of big expensive jars, is such a blessing. Of course, if you don’t have a spice house near you, you can always order sumac powder online.
I’ve been enjoying mounds of this salad for the past few days, and now I have a craving for my second love: chicken shawarma. Yet another thing I thought I’d never be able to replicate at home, but after this salad, I think I have the confidence to give it a go. I have my eye on this recipe, so if you’re feeling inspired, you can give that a try alongside the salad. (Now all I need is some hummus, garlic sauce, and pickled veg, and I’ll be set!)
Get the recipe below, but first, here’s a video to show you how it goes. I dunno about you, but I’m a very visual person, and watching how something’s done always motivates me!
- 1-4 TBSP light olive oil, or refined (unflavored) coconut oil
- 1 large pita bread, regular or whole wheat (or 2-3 smaller ones)
- pinch of salt, to taste
- ⅓rd-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, to taste (about 1½ - 2 lemons)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane or very finely minced
- 1 tsp. ground sumac
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt (or ½ tsp. table salt)
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 english cucumber, chopped into large bite-sized pieces
- 2 medium tomatoes (or a couple handfuls grape or cherry tomatoes) cut into large bite-sized pieces
- ½ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
- Thinly sliced radishes
- Thinly sliced red onions
- Crumbled feta cheese
- To bake the pita chips: drizzle pita bread with 1-2 TBSP olive oil or melted coconut oil, rubbing it to coat both sides, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until golden and crispy, then let cool and break into bite sized pieces.
- To fry the pita chips: cut or tear the pita bread into bite sized pieces. Heat 3-4 TBSP coconut oil (or other neutral, high-heat oil) in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pita, and cook, stirring frequently, until golden and crispy. Remove from the pan and toss lightly with salt.
- In a glass measuring cup, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Taste, and adjust if necessary (if the dressing needs more acidity, add more lemon juice, etc., to taste).
- Chop the romaine lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, and mint, and place in a large bowl. (If you'd like to add radishes, red onions, or crumbled feta cheese, you can do so now.) Pour over enough dressing to coat, and toss to combine. Top with pita chips, and serve!
Recipe adapted from Karen Srour -- find her recipe, HERE.
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