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
- Heat some oil in a skillet and fry the pita bread. Watch out! It will be brown in one minute!
- 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).
- 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.
- Mash the garlic and add a portion to the yogurt. Mix and add the tahini and mix.
- 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.
- 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.