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|