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Fattoush: Lebanese Bread Salad

fattoush

Turns out I can’t get enough of drupes – but this time, from an unexpected source: sumac.

Do you ever buy ingredients without a recipe in mind? Guilty. Sumac is one of those orphans in my cabinets that now has found a home in at least one recipe that I plan to make again.

After spending an early Sunday afternoon with the Perfectly Edible crew, stuffing myself with dim sum (apparently we are addicted to dim sum), a light dinner was in order. Flipping through a cookbook for inspiration, “sumac” caught my eye and fattoush it was.

What the heck is sumac, you ask? It’s a purply-red spice that’s used in Middle Eastern cuisine and it comes from a berry (a drupe!) that’s dried and ground to a powder. Those of you from the East Coast may have heard of “poison sumac”… that’s up there in the Itchy Hall of Fame with poison ivy and poison oak and NOT what you want to eat.

The edible variety of sumac grows in Africa and North America and is characterized by a red berry. When I taste the spice by itself, I don’t get a very strong flavor, but I think it adds depth to the citrus dressing of the salad. And a pretty color.

This salad will be even better when it’s “really” summer and the tomatoes are in their prime. We ate it as a main course, but it would be delicious as a side with grilled chicken or meat.

Fattoush: Lebanese Bread Salad
- serves 3 to 4 -
Adapted from Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country

Salad
1 large cucumber, seeded and cubed (and peeled, if waxed)
2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cubed
4 green onions, green and white part thinly sliced
1/3 c chopped parsley
1/3 c chopped mint
1 small head romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 c baby arugula
2 whole wheat pita rounds
1 t sumac
spray canola oil
salt, pepper

Dressing
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 c olive oil
1 ½ t sumac
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Tear pita bread into bite-sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet. Lightly spray them with canola oil and sprinkle with 1 t sumac and some salt. Toast for about 12 minutes, until crisp.

For salad, combine cucumber, tomatoes, bell pepper, green onion, parsley, and mint in a large bowl.

For dressing, whisk garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, 1 ½ t sumac, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over salad, mix.

Just before serving, mix lettuce, arugula and pita in with the dressed salad. Adjust salt and pepper as needed.

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