The Fattoush salad is an iconic dish Levantine dish that is made across the Middle East, all parties arguing about the perfect way to to create the salad and what it should contain, squabbling over whether the dish should contain spring onions or red onions, a handful of chopped radishes, lettuce or no lettuce at all..and the list goes on. However, most of these rather opinionated people agree that the salad should consist of a base of cool fresh cucumber, plump tomatoes and crispy morsels of flatbread.
The salad belongs to a group of dishes known as Fatteh, all consisting of pieces of fresh, toasted, or stale flatbread covered with other ingredients.
I first prepared this salad for a Mezze party, when celebrating a birthday in my family, I was eager to introduce them to many of the exciting dishes I had sampled whilst living in Jordan. The salad was accompanied by my Syrian Lamb kebabs with a cucumber and dill yogurt (recipe also on blog), harissa-marinaded asparagus, grilled haloumi and a dish of jeweled home-made hummus. I am happy to say that all of my family members devoured the delicious offerings that I had created in the kitchen that afternoon and greedily guzzled the Lebanese rosé wine from Châteaux Musar that my father had purchased, whilst basking in the light evening sunshine.
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4-6)
2 pitta breads
Plenty of olive oil
1 pomegranate, seeds are for garnish
2 tsp of sumac
2 baby gem lettuce, chopped roughly
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small cucumbers, diced
2 spring onions, chopped finely
small bunch o mint chopped
small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
4-5 radishes, thinly sliced (for my recipe we couldn't source them sadly)
75ml of pommegranate molasses
50ml of cider vinegar
1 tsp of dried mint (quite hard to source, so don't worry if you can't just use plenty of fresh)
2 tsp of sumac
juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic mashed or a slosh of garlic oil
125ml of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Note: If you are a regular and passionate salad maker, I would recommend forking out to purchase the Cole & Mason Salad dressing shaker, which can be purchased at John Lewis. It is perfect for mixing your salad dressings then serving. However, if not just simple use a small bowl to stir the dressing and then pour it little by little on to the salad, mixing and tasting, you can always add more! The pomegranate molasses (particularly for those who haven't tried it before) can be quite pungent and sickly sweet.
First prepare the flatbread croutons for the salad, there are several ways to do this. My father's preferred method is to stick the pitta breads on the barbecue, whole and toast them there for a minute or two, flipping. Then, cut them up with scissors for the salad. This is a perfect method when perhaps you are cooking lamb koftas or vegetables on the barbecue already. However, that being said whilst in Jordan, I learnt to prepare the pieces of flat bread by deep-frying the pieces in a small pan of hot oil. A simple alternative is sprinkling them with sumac and drizzling with oil, then bake them in the oven at 180 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until crispy and light brown.
Put the lettuce in a bowl with the herbs, tomatoes, cucumber and onions, then scatter the radish slices over the top and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, they look like little purple rubies.
Make the dressing by whisking the ingredients together until smooth, then add seasoning to taste.
You can either serve the salad dressed or allow people to dress it themselves depending on how confident you are that they will like it. Also the salad will stay fresh undressed, if you want to keep any leftovers.
When I first suggested making my own hummus to family members, they were horrified at the prospect of the faff entailed by creating something one could easily purchase at the supermarket. However, I believe by the end, despite their stubbornness, I made them reconsider their reluctance. The hummus that my Dad and I managed to whip up together with such simple ingredients: tahini, chickpeas, lemon and seasoning was just delectable! Please note you will need a food processor, or hand-held blender for this recipe. Personally, my favorite utensil to use for this dish is a hand-held blender with a detachable, dishwasher-safe bowl which entails far less mess.
225g of cooked chickpeas, drained but save a little of the water
75ml of fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
a slosh of virgin olive oil
125g of Tahini, stirred until creamy before measuring (it tends to separate)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch of ground paprika
Puree the chickpeas until smooth. Then add 1/2 the lemon juice, the garlic and a little bit of chick-pea water, mixing together with a spoon then blending.
Add a third of the Tahini required to the mixture and whisk it through. Slowly add more Tahini but continue tasting the mixture, as you don't want an over-powering taste of sesame, this will also give you an idea if you need to add more lemon or garlic. Each flavor should add something to the dish, however without being a big bully and cancelling out the other flavors. Keep slowly adding the Tahini as you see fit, if it gets too thick add more of the chick-pea water to loosen the mixture, and add the remaining lemon juice as needed.
Whisk in the salt and pepper, tasting the mixture as you go.
When your happy with your flavors, serve the hummus in a round, flat bowl if you have one (easier for scooping). Sprinkle on top the pomegranate seeds (the jewels) , a dash of paprika and drizzle of olive oil for wetness.