As ubiquitous on a Lebanese mezze table as the eternal hummus, this salad signals the beginning of warm weather, days at the beach and tutti quanti.
Some essential features of a good fattoush: crisp pita croutons, preferably fried; a copious amount of sumac in the lemon and olive oil dressing; and fresh garden vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, green peppers and last but not least, purslane or mâche as it is called in Francophone countries or at fancy restaurants in the US.
Purslane or mâche may sound fancy, but it is a weed and you may easily find it on the side of the road or at the edge of a parking lot, as it grows where nothing has grown before. It is also supposed to be the most nutritional weed around, ironically! (you can also find it at Latino markets under the name verdolaga)
This fattoush is going to have crisp but toasted breadsticks; even the fried croutons turn limp and who wants to eat soggy bread? Not me! So grab a crunchy sumac-flavored breadstick and chomp along!
If you can’t find purslane, don’t sweat it! This salad is great with good-old romaine, some chopped up parsley and mint, lots of cucumbers and tomatoes and whatever else you feel like throwing in there!
- 1 head of romaine lettuce (or any other lettuce), torn in pieces
- a bunch of purslane or mâche
- a few Persian cucumbers (or English-hothouse, or just plain cucumbers)
- a few tomatoes, diced
- a few radishes, sliced
- green onions, sliced
- a handful of chopped Italian parsley and a handful of fresh mint
- a green pepper, diced (optional)
- a large loaf of pita bread or 2 small pita breads
For the Fattoush dressing:
- 2 small lemons, juiced
- 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 generous tablespoons of sumac, plus extra to sprinkle on the pita breadsticks
- 2 or more cloves of garlic mashed in a dash of salt in a mortar
- Brush the pita breads with plenty of olive oil; sprinkle plenty of sumac on top.
- With kitchen scissors, cut the bread into thin breadsticks. Toast in a 325F oven till crispy and golden. Set aside.
- Prepare all the salad ingredients; mix the dressing; when ready to serve, toss the salad with the dressing and serve the breadsticks on the side, or break them up the traditional way, and incorporate in the fattoush.