Truth? I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share one of the finest salads you can get your hands on come summertime, when tomatoes and cucumbers are at their shiny Sunday best.
It’s called fattoush, a salad claimed by many cultures of the Middle East, though my local Lebanese grocer says it hails first and foremost from his country alone. Regardless, the various twists and iterations of this salad are too many to count. Some versions include radishes, sumac is common, pomegranate molasses sometimes makes an appearance, and yogurt shows up on occasion.
This is my take on fattoush, a version featuring ingredients anyone can find in their local supermarket. The foundation of the salad is a combination of stale or lightly toasted flatbread (I use whole-grain pita) tossed with tomatoes, cucumbers, and greens. The dressing is little more than olive oil and lemon juice embellished with ground cumin for flavor. A little crumbled feta makes a savory finishing touch.
The salad has enough heft to fill you up for lunch. Add chick peas or chicken and it’s a definite main dish option for dinner. Fattoush is just the type of light yet satisfying meal I crave when the weather gets warm and the tomatoes and cucumbers are at their shiny Sunday best.
Side Note: I have a simplified version of Fattoush in Best Lunch Box Ever. It makes a terrific school or desk lunch.
Care to try another main-dish salad? This Turkey Taco number is a kid- and parent-please every time.
Crunchy cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, and toasted pita bread are the foundation of this bright salad with Middle Eastern roots. Toss with a lemony dressing, finish with a crumble of feta cheese, and be prepared to want it on repeat.
- 1 whole wheat pita bread not split in half
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing on the pita
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin (or ground sumac)
- 1 small clove minced garlic (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 generous handfuls roughly chopped or torn Little Gem or hearts of Romaine lettuce (7 packed cups)
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ⅓ English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Optional to make it a main dish salad: 1 lb cooked, sliced boneless skinless chicken breast or one 14-ounce can drained chick peas
Lightly brush the pita bread with olive oil and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the surface. Put in a toaster oven until lightly browned and mostly crispy or a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, salt, and several turns with a pepper grinder.
Put the lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber in a large bowl. Once the pita has cooled, break it up into large bite-size pieces and add to the salad. Drizzle on most of the dressing and toss well. If serving this as a main dish, add the chicken or chick peas and toss again. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Scatter the feta over the top.