Fattoush is a popular Middle-Eastern salad with Levantine origins. This salad has it all: it’s fresh, crunchy, tangy, sweet, colorful and just simply delicious!
What is fattoush salad?
Fattoush (فتوش, fattush, fatush, fattoosh, or fattouche) is a salad composed of toasted or fried pieces of Arabic flatbread that are combined with fresh mixed greens and vegetables that are cut in relatively large pieces compared to another Levantine salad like tabbouleh, which requires ingredients to be finely chopped.
What is the origin of fattoush salad?
Fattoush is part of a family of recipes that are known as fattat (plural of fatteh), or shâmiyât (in Syrian). Fattat dishes use stale flatbread as a base. Examples can be found in dishes such as Syrian chickpea fatteh salad, chicken fatteh salad or fatteh al-betenjane (eggplant casserole).
Fattūsh is actually derived from the Arabic word fatt, which means “crush” and the suffix of Turkic origin -ūsh, a common suffix in Levantine Arabic.
This family of dishes inherently developed in the Arab world as the majority of the bread consumed over there is flatbread, a bread that easily dries out. Like Italians with panzanella or pappa al pomodoro, Arabs found ways to use leftover stale bread in their everyday recipes.
How to make fattoush salad?
The vegetables used in fattoush include lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and radish at a minimum. Traditionally, khubz arabi (Arabic flatbread) or pita bread is fried, or it can also be toasted.
There is another green that is often added to traditional fattoush salad. Purslane, which is considered a weed in the United States, may also be consumed as a leaf vegetable. Beside the Middle East, this slightly sour and salty leaf is eaten throughout most of Europe, as well as Asia, and Mexico. Purslane can be used fresh in a salad like fattoush, stir-fried just like kale, or cooked in stews or soups just like spinach.
There are also two key ingredients that give fattoush salad its unique sweet and sour taste.
What is sumac?
Let’s start with sumac. Sumac (sumach, or sumaq) is a deep red spice with a sour flavor. The dried and powdered fruits of the flowering plant from the family of Anacardiaceae are often used as a spice in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is often incorporated into the fattoush dressing, but almost always sprinkled over the salad and the bread before it is toasted.
It is also used as a garnish on mezzes such as hummus or tashi (tahini). In Iran, sumac is added to polo (rice) or kebab. In Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, it is added to salads as well as lahm bi ajin. Sumac is also used in another popular Middle Eastern spice blend called za’atar that is often sprinkled on mana’eesh bread.
What are pomegranate molasses?
The second key ingredient of fattoush salad is pomegranate molasses. Although they share the same name, pomegranate molasses are not derived from sugar molasses, but rather a fruit syrup that is made from pomegranate juice that is reduced and evaporated until it reaches a thick, dark red syrup.
Pomegranate molasses are used in a number of Middle Eastern recipes such as Persian fesenjān, as well as muhammara, this deliciously Syrian spiced dip. They are also used in Turkish pilaf and çoban salatası (Turkish shepherd’s salad), a salad similar to fattoush. This sweet and sour ingredient is called دبس رمّان (dibs rumman) in Arabic, nar ekşisi in Turkish, and narşərab in Azerbaijani.
This salad is so great by itself, and this is how we ate it for a Sunday brunch, but it can also be served as a side dish to grilled meat, fish or chicken.
Just remember one thing: do not add the toasted or fried bread to the salad until you are ready to serve it, otherwise it will soak up the dressing and become soggy.
Bon appétit !
- 12 leaves romaine lettuce , coarsely chopped
- 3 tomatoes , coarsely chopped
- 1 cucumber
- 6 radishes , quartered
- 4 scallions , sliced
- 2 cloves garlic , crushed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 lemons , juiced
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- A few fresh mint leaves
- 1 bunch purslane , chopped (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sumac
- 3 loaves pita bread
Peel the cucumber, then cut in half lengthwise. Seed it, and coarsely chop it.
In a bowl, combine the garlic, salt, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, 1 tablespoon of sumac and 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
In a separate bowl, combine the sumac with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Separate the pita bread in two thinner flat breads to obtain 6 thin flat breads total. Brush them with the sumac and olive oil, then cut them in 1-inch (2 cm) squares. Toast them in an oven preheated at 400 F (200°C).
The pita bread can alternatively be fried. To do so, preheat 1 cup (250 ml) of oil in a skillet and fry the pita bread pieces until golden, for about 1 minute. Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.
In a large bowl, combine all the vegetables and greens. Pour the dressing, and sprinkle with a little sumac.
Add the toasted or fried pita bread right before serving, and toss well.