Spinach, yogurt and pita croutons casserole (Fatteh sabanegh)

This is yet another version of the fatteh, a very popular dish in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Jordan. It is prepared as a way to use up stale pita bread and any type of vegetable or meat you happen to have on hand.

According to Clifford Wright, the author of A Mediterranean Feast, this dish is at least ten centuries-old dating  back to Crusader’s time.

This dish is layered: First the spinach stew then the yogurt sauce then the fried pita croutons, sprinkled with fried pine nuts. It is also made with minced lamb and spinach. I just used spinach today. You can substitute any other green, of course.

INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 servings

Time required: 30 minutes

For the spinach stew:

  • 1 pound of frozen chopped spinach (or fresh)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound of minced meat (optional)
  • dash of cinnamon, dash of allspice
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (if you hate cilantro, switch to basil or parsley)
  • 5 garlic cloves, mashed with a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon of pomegranate molasses
  • olive oil as needed

For the yogurt sauce:

  • 1/2 jar (8 ounces) of yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 3 cloves of garlic, mashed with a pinch of salt

For the bread:

  • 2 pitas, cut in small squares with kitchen scissors
  • 1 or more cup of oil for frying

For the pine nuts or almonds or both:

  • 2 ounces of pine nuts or almonds or both
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter

METHOD:

  1. Heat some oil in a skillet and fry the pita bread. Watch out! It will be brown in one minute!
  2. Remove the bread with a slotted spoon, place on a dish lined with several paper towels ans set aside till needed. You can also place all the croutons in a closed container and used the next day (or a few days later).
  3. In a small skillet, melt the butter and fry the pine nuts and almonds if using till golden. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  4. Mash the garlic and add a portion to the yogurt. Mix and add the tahini and mix.
  5. Fry the onion in some olive oil in a large skillet till golden; add the meat (if using) and fry till browned; drain of all fat;  add the garlic and cilantro and stir for a minute in the olive oil till fragrant. Add the spinach, the pomegranate molasses (if using)  and 1/4 cup of water  and cook the mixture for a few minutes, covered. Add a pinch of cinnamon and black  pepper to the mixture.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. When ready to serve, heat the spinach mixture a bit; place in a large serving dish or individual goblets; add the yogurt, add the crisp pita croutons, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts. Serve.

NOTE: If using minced meat, fry the meat with the onion then add the spinach and cilantro and garlic  and cook the spinach; drain the spinach and onion of fat, adjust seasoning and set aside.



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32 Comments

  1. Posted April 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    It looks very fresh and delicious. I love yogurt in everything. This looks like an easy recipe that I would love to make it.

    Nisrine

  2. Posted April 10, 2010 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    I love Fatteh and I recently stumbled on your blog and love it. :)

  3. Posted April 10, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I would love to eat every single thing you post! I must get into the kitchen and start replicating them… kibbeh pie is first, then this second :)

  4. Posted April 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    I adore all of the different textures in this dish. I looks wonderfully delicious!

  5. Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    I’m so glad you commented on my site, which lead to me discovering your site. Your food is so beautiful and it’s great to learn about a cuisine that I don’t know much (if anything!) about. I will certainly be adding you to my blog roll and look forward to reading all of your future posts!

  6. Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Ahh great idea for using up the extra pita bread! It always comes in large packs and so we always seem to have some left over! :D What a gorgeous sounding dish!

  7. Posted April 11, 2010 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    This fatteh looks fantastic. I haven’t tried it with spinach, only with chickpeas! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Posted April 11, 2010 at 4:37 am | Permalink

    A scrumptious casserole! A perfect combination!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  9. Posted April 11, 2010 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    I really like recipes such as this – they’re designed to use up leftovers, but are full of healthy ingredients as well.

  10. Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    What an interesting spinach dish! So this is eaten as a snack?

  11. Posted April 11, 2010 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Wow, look at how gorgeous that is! It’s too bad pita bread doesn’t stick around in my house long enough to get stale. ;-)

  12. Posted April 11, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Wow such a beautiful casserole, looks fabulous..

  13. SYLVIA
    Posted April 11, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Searching through the web for recipes from Beirut I stumbled upon this blog, and now I am in heaven.
    You always have fashionable great food. Everything you make is phenomenal.
    This delicious green spinach dish is full of antixadendt and very tasty, and the best part is, we have all the ingredients in the house.
    Thank you Joumana, for this new but permanent, addition to my culinary repertoire
    I am a big fan !!!!! God Bless
    Sylvia

  14. Posted April 11, 2010 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Bonjour,

    Merci beaucoup pour votre visite sur mon blog. Cela me permet de découvrir le vôtre qui est superbe. Les photos sont magnifiques et j’aime beaucoup la cuisine libanaise que je trouve très raffinée et subtile. Voilà donc l’occasion de m’y mettre. Je reviendrai vous rendre visite avec bonheur.

    A bientôt

    Marie-Laure

  15. Posted April 11, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    My favorite is those buttery fried pine nuts on the yogurt… oh, so good!

  16. Posted April 11, 2010 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Beautiful casserole…

  17. Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Good afertoon,

    It’s very nice colors, and I’m sure that’s very sweet too.
    thanks for your visit in my blog.

    byba

  18. Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Dear Joumana – I love the idea of meat & spinach, then topped with yogurt & the crispy pleasure of fried pita (unbeatable) with the nutty flavors from the pine nuts and the almonds. (I am such a carnivore :)

    Fantastic! I could easily eat a bowl of that and be happy with my legs stretched out on the couch in front of the telly!!

    Always a joy to visit you!

    Ciao, Devaki

  19. Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This looks great. I’ve been looking for more yogurt recipes.

  20. Posted April 11, 2010 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Like the idea of making coutons with Pita Bread! Sounds like such a refreshing and delicious dish!

  21. Posted April 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Yummy Yum! I love all the layers of this casserole. What a way to use up those stale Pita bread!

  22. Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ve never fried pita bread. This is beautiful, simple and looks both elegant and deliicous!

  23. Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Your casserole sounds wonderful, I love all the flavors you use, I have never had a casserole like this. Must try. xo Nice and healthy too!

  24. Posted April 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Spinach with meat is my favourite dish… I feel guilty every time my mom cooks it, when we were still in West Beirut, she got hit by a car when she went to get fresh spinach from the vendor.
    I see that you recipe is similar to mloukieh stew and not the traditional one .
    But again, i do add fresh spinach to the dried mloukheih so I think this will be fabulous as well… where is the origin of this recipe?? Shouf – Deir Al Kamar

  25. Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    This is so lovely! It’s pretty enough that it almost looks like a dessert, even though it’s savory. That spinach stew sounds absolutely delicious!

  26. Posted April 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    oh wow, looks so delicious! good way to eat some spinach too.

  27. Posted April 11, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    This would be a neat appetizer too. Or for a ladies lunch. Some really nice flavors here.

  28. Posted April 11, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    So funny – growing up a casserole was a heavy thing, and the connotations for most people in my neck of the woods are less-than-healthy and light. Quite the opposite of this! I mean really, if all casseroles were this lovely the world would be a better (and thinner!) place.

  29. Posted April 12, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    this is a great recipe! I almost always have pinenuts, yogurt (or labneh) and pita at home and today I have spinach which I just bought from the ramle shuk. perfect.

  30. Posted April 18, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I have never had Fatta but it looks good enough to try out!

  31. Posted May 2, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Yum! This looks so good! The topping alone is a major weakness of mine.

  32. Posted May 3, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmmm une fatteh !

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