Fattoush: Romaine Salad with Herbs and Sumac

 


This is fattoush without the fatteh, the Arabic word for shards of toasted pita bread, which give this salad its name. I substituted pita chips with home-made sourdough crackers. I did sprinkle a good amount of sumac for garnish in order to maintain the salad’s Middle Eastern identity. (Ground sumac is a versatile and essential spice in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It has a tangy lemony flavor, although more balanced and less tart than lemon juice and milder and less acidic than vinegar.) At this time of the year, when the young tender herbs are ravishing, I’m never tired of using and eating herbs in a salad. This salad came from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen, the recipe of the week at Cook the Book Fridays, a wonderful community of bloggers who come together and compare notes as we work through David’s cookbook.

This may be a simple salad to make, but it took me three takes to get it right. Took pictures of the first plate in the early evening when lighting was soft and I was able to get some great shots.

Moments after I put down the camera, I realized that I forgot to sprinkle sumac on top of the salad. So back to the drawing board and worked the camera again for more pictures. The sun was setting and the lighting conditions had dimmed somewhat. Then we proceeded to have dinner and easily finished the big bowl of salad I made. My husband liked the spice but he could not identify what it was. He loved the smoky and fruity flavor of sumac. It was not until after dinner, coming from nowhere, it came to my mind that I did not put pita chips in the salad. Not again, another forgotten ingredient!

 

First take: No sumac, no toasted chips

I made the salad again for lunch the next day and this time with the sourdough chips I made a few days ago. They were fantastic, crispy and crunchy. Perfect as a toasted pita bread substitute. The reality is: I don’t usually buy bread, ever since I started baking them at home — from scratch and with a natural sourdough starter. There are always unused starter (a mixture of flour, water and yeast) that I discard whenever I refresh and make new levain. Instead of throwing them out, jars and jars of old starter sit in the fridge waiting to be repurposed. One typical use is to make sourdough crackers. To make a long story short, buying pita bread for this recipe is out of the question. I have to take advantage of whatever kind of bread I have available.

For this salad, I skipped the radishes. I did not spot any good ones at the store. I got some farm-fresh spring onions at the farmers market; they are in season. Parsley, mint, chervil, chives are all in plentiful supply in my garden. Torn pieces of these herbs went into the salad together with the rest of the ingredients: romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. I put a light drizzle of dressing on top, made with lemon juice, salt, garlic, Dijon mustard and olive oil. This salad is delicious with beautiful bright flavors!

Second take: No pita chips

 

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19 Comments

  • Reply
    Mardi Michels
    June 3, 2016 at 10:35 am

    Hey I forgot most of the parsley in this one 😉

  • Reply
    lisa brown
    June 3, 2016 at 11:05 am

    You are right- this is a very bright salad. I love the idea of sourdough crackers. I will have to try that next time!

  • Reply
    Kathy
    June 3, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Radishes weren’t very nice in my market either. Your sourdough crackers sound yummy.

  • Reply
    Betsy
    June 4, 2016 at 1:58 am

    Those sourdough crackers sound great. You remind me that I want to try making my own sourdough starter. I love repurposing food in creative ways. Since you to do, you should read The Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler (if you haven't already).

  • Reply
    Mary Hirsch
    June 4, 2016 at 2:10 am

    I commend you for re-taking photographs and re-making the salad. Yes, without the sumac something very important would have been missing. Truthfully, I was going to take a photo of a slice of blueberry pie (in my blog today) showing how pretty it was. But, when serving a number of people dessert, my photography got lost in the process. When I got up in the morning, I had a small piece left and it wasn't especially photogenic. So I just decided to go with it and photograph it as it was. I did not make another pie! I thought Fattoush was delicious. Am I the only one who used radishes???

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 4, 2016 at 4:27 am

    There is nothing quite like the sourdough crackers in taste. Worth a try.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 4, 2016 at 4:38 am

    Remaking a salad is not like remaking a pie. I won't do that either. I am not a big fan of radishes, especially those not-so-good ones.

  • Reply
    Teresa
    June 4, 2016 at 5:28 am

    I agree that pita is out of the question when you've got homemade crackers on hand – much better to use what you have than, especially when it sounds so wonderful. I loved your story of the 'three takes' it took to photograph this salad. I've certainly had similar experiences as I've juggled cooking, eating, and blogging.

  • Reply
    KB from Prof Who Cooks
    June 4, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Bright flavors is exactly right and I love the idea of having it with sourdough crackers (mine wouldn't be homemade, but I still really like the idea!). I used the radishes, but I wouldn't say they were absolutely necessary to the salad.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 4, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    I have to reconsider rushing through the pictures before sitting down and taking a bite. Rushing through makes for the frequent unintended consequences.

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I can't pass up this delicious batch of sourdough crackers to be included to the salad. I would do it again!

  • Reply
    flour.ish.en
    June 4, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    T. Adler's idea of cooking with grace and economy is very compelling. The book to read for sure. Thanks for suggesting it

  • Reply
    Nana
    June 4, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I love all the photos, makes everything look so tasty and delicious. I substituted lemon zest with salt and pepper for the sumac, but I am going to try to find some the next shopping trip.

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 4, 2016 at 5:34 pm

    Excellent pictures you got in the end! The sourdough crackers sound awesome, I am gearing up to start baking bread again, so might just have something sourdough soon!

  • Reply
    dulceshome.com
    June 4, 2016 at 7:39 pm

    Your salad looks great, and I like your idea of the crackers – well, I am particularly impressed that you are them. I like to rely on home-made bread (though not as successfully as you) – all of the different bits of bread…

  • Reply
    Nicole
    June 5, 2016 at 2:17 am

    I forgot the pita chips too. I didn't miss their presence though. I made this a second time and purposefully left out the pita that time. I have started making bread with a naturally leaving too, and the product is otherworldly.

  • Reply
    Nicole
    June 5, 2016 at 2:17 am

    I forgot the pita chips too. I didn't miss their presence though. I made this a second time and purposefully left out the pita that time. I have started making bread with a naturally leaving too, and the product is otherworldly.

  • Reply
    kitchen flavours
    June 6, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Sourdough crackers sounds good, especially homemade! Your salad looks wonderful!

  • Reply
    Emily
    June 7, 2016 at 4:23 am

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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