Cook the Book Fridays – Fattoush


I don’t think of salads as diet food. It’s what I was raised to do, but the days of wan supermarket lettuce, with its limp produce aisle cohorts are long gone. These days, lettuce is early summer fare, along with freshly-dug radishes and scallions. It’s not quite time for tomatoes and cucumbers, but today’s fresh market offerings are better than the supermarket fare of yore (yore being the late 20th Century).

Salads are a broader category for me now, too. Shaved Brussels sprouts or cabbage might go into a winter salad, roasted tomatoes and eggplant into a high summer version. But right now, salads look a lot like the ones in my elementary school picture books – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, carrots – they’re all fair game.

Fattoush with za'atar

Tonight’s salad is fattoush, which adds a healthy dose of flat-leaf parsley and mint to a mix of romaine, onion, radishes, and cucumbers. It’s tossed in a lemony, garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette and finished with grindings of black pepper and a sprinkling of sumac. I’m out of sumac, so I substituted za’atar. I’m glad I did, because there’s lots of sumac, but it also adds a burst of thyme and sesame.

My bowl included pieces of pita that had been brushed with olive oil and crisped in the oven. The gluten-free version included crispy rice crackers instead. Both were full of flavour.

There will be many more summer salads this year, but I’ll be revisiting this one regularly, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.

Fattoush on a wicker tray

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15 thoughts on “Cook the Book Fridays – Fattoush

  1. Haha, I love the last line. I’ve made the thing 3 times now, using dill instead of mint, subbing avocado oil for the olive oil, etc. It’s a lovely salad and I agree that so much has changed in the supermarkets over the last 20 years. I read a book years ago called “The United States of Arugula” that traced how food has changed so much since the 1970s. It’s crazy how much we have access to on a daily basis…explaining to my students that miso wasn’t in every grocery store until somewhat recently has them looking at my like I’m nuts. 🙂

  2. When I was growing up my grandmother used zaatar. I don’t think she ever had just plain sumac in her kitchen. I think it was hard to get even from a middle eastern grocery back then. Your fattoush looks great and it was so good! Happy weekend!

  3. Nope, salads aren’t “diet food” anymore but that’s how they were born. I had never made Fattoush before. My fave salad is Ottolenghi’s Baby Spinach, Almonds and Date salad which had sumac. He uses this spice often so I have it on hand. I did not know the difference between Sumac and Za’atar. so thanks for the info. Love your photos. This was a colorful salad, huh?

  4. I love a good salad, diet food or not. I love the combination of flavors colors and textures in this one, but love the addition of sumac especially, which is my favorite spice. Yours looks great, and I love the addition of yellow cherry tomatoes to add to the rainbow of vegetables in yours.

  5. I love salads! This one is a winner. I like the extra punch the za’atar must have added to your salad. I’ll try that substitution next time I make fattoush. I’m glad you found a crunchy stand-in for Kevin’s salad too. Happy summer, Teresa!

  6. We must be salad sisters! My thoughts exactly on what salads can and should be. And you are one of a few who could run out of sumac and substitute za’atar!

  7. I must say herbs do breathe new life into the old school green salad, and spices! I did have my portion of the fattoush for my brunch with nothing else (but I did enjoy a simple afternoon tea later!)

  8. This was one of my favorites. I really love any bread salads. Yours looks terrific! They really are perfect for any meal!

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