Wednesday, August 13, 2008
WHAT WE HAD FOR LUNCH TODAY (FATTOUSH!) AND SOME PREVIEWS
"Fattoush (Arabic: فتوش ), often pronounced "fadash", is a Levantine salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread. Fattoush salad allows cooks to use seasonal produce by mixing different vegetables and herbs according to taste, and also to make use of pitas that have gone stale. The vegetables are cut into relatively large pieces compared to Tabbouleh which requires ingredients to be finely chopped. Sumac is usually used to give Fattoush its sour taste." From Wikipedia
I first tasted this salad at a Lebanese restaurant in Montreal and I was hooked for life! (Though usually encountered in Lebanese restaurants in North America, the salad is popular also in Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Israel and Iraq.) It is perfect for summer meals. The ingredient that makes it special is ground sumac, which is a berry from the Mediterranean Sumac tree. Sumac is deliciously tangy and sour with hints of lemon. Because of its flavor it is used as a souring agent instead of, or in addition to, citrus juice or vinegar. Sumac is found in Middle Eastern cuisine and it is an essential ingredient in Za'atar (a delicious spice mixture of sumac, sesame, thyme and sometimes other herbs).
BRYANNA'S FATTOUSH (LEVANTINE PITA BREAD AND TOMATO SALAD WITH HERBS)
(Adapted from recipes in my books The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook and The Fiber for life Cookbook.)
The seasonings of this salad will remind you of Tabbouleh, however it is distinctly different, and uniquely delicious. While it was originally invented as a way to use up stale pita bread, you can toast fresh bread for the same effect (sort of like making croutons). I often make a whole meal of this salad. Ground sumac can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores (or see "Cooking Tips" below for online sources). If you can find it, add the optional arugula (a peppery green leafy vegetable also known as rocket) and purslane (you may have to grow the last two yourself-- they are easy to grow), for a more authentic taste.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice(or bottled organic)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tsp. ground sumac (see "Cooking Tips" below for where to buy online)
1 large (10") wholewheat pita bread (or two smaller ones, 5-6" each), split and toasted, and broken into bite- size pieces (my recipe here)
1 medium English (burpless or hothouse) cucumber, diced (the kind with an edible skin), or the equivalent in small yellow lemon cucumbers
(see here for types of cucumbers that don't need peeling)
2 large firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (Italian or flat-leaf, if possible)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 head crisp Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn up
OPTIONAL: 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped or sliced
1 cup chopped purslane
1 cup torn arugula or watercress leaves, or a mixture
(other greens to use in place of purslane and/or arugula would be Belgian endive, escarole, young dandelion leaves, young mustard greens, kale, chicory or radicchio-- or even an organic baby salad mix)
To make the Dressing, mix the dressing ingredients together with a blender, or with a whisk, or shake them in a tightly-sealed jar.
Just before serving the salad, place the lettuce in a large bowl. Add the remaining vegetables and herbs, and the broken-up toasted pita bread. Add the Dressing and toss well. Divide the salad between 6 plates and serve immediately.
Nutrition (per serving): 184.9 calories; 47% calories from fat; 10.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 307.2mg sodium; 610.0mg potassium; 22.5g carbohydrates; 5.5g fiber; 4.6g sugar; 17.0g net carbs; 4.8g protein; 3.7 points.
Sumac can be purchased at North African or Middle Eastern markets, or online vendors.
PHOTO PREVIEWS OF DISHES AND MEALS WE'VE HAD THIS LAST WEEK (Some recipes to come)--
Bulgur and Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes
Curried Soy Curls™ and Mango Salad
The salads pictured above with homemade pita bread
Bumbleberry (mixed berries) and Merlot Sorbet (a Julie Hasson recipe)
Ingredients for Vietnamese Summer Rolls (salad rolls) made with barbecued tofu and served with spicy peanut sauce Recipe in my book "World Vegan Feast".
Some new ways to froth soymilk for cappuccinos!
Hope you're having a great summer!