Classic Fattoush Salad
There is nothing like a bright and fresh salad, loaded with colorful vegetables and crunchy, crispy pita chips. My mom would make Fattoush salad for us all the time and as kids, it was the only salad we would willingly request.
There are a ton of different recipes out there but the one I had growing up and regularly make at home, is the most traditional to the style my mother, Sonia, taught me to make. In order to keep this recipe as close to the way I remember it I consulted with my mother and did some online research. It turns out, our salad is almost identical to Iraqi-English born Chef Phillip Juma’s version and I couldn’t be happier! It makes me feel nostalgic for a place I’ve never been to. The way to best describe it is in a teeny tiny history lesson if you are interested.
It’s hard for me to connect to Iraq and our ancestral roots in many ways because we are not actually Arab. Assyrians, (my people) ,come from the Mesopotamian region of what is currently Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. We are a majority Christian people and our native language is a neo-Aramaic Assyrian dialect. We don’t identify with one solid country. So, how do we connect with the people around us? Through food, of course! Through recipes like this Fattoush Salad. Like I said earlier, there are so many variations on this salad. The Fattoush salad originates in Lebanon and Lebanese recipes usually throw in some fresh pomegranate perils, Turkish variations call for sweet paprika and lemon juice and Persian recipes throw in Dill, yogurt, and Tahini. All these variations are delicious but the version I’m used to, tangy, simple and rustic, is my favorite version.
Fattoush is great as a stand alone dish or served as a side to many dishes like Lamb Chops, Shish Kabob, and so many other great recipes. It’s vegan, healthy and super easy to make in three easy steps.
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR THE COMPLETE RECIPE AND HOW-TO VIDEO!
Step 1 - Make the Pita Chips
Making the pita chips in the oven is super simple! All you need is three ingredients: Pita Bread, Olive Oil and Sumac. You can leave the Sumac off if you want your chips plain but adding the Sumac to the pita before baking, adds an unexpected bright burst of tanginess and it gives a spiced up version of something that would otherwise just be a plain crouton.
Traditionally, frying the pita chips is usually how the croutons are made. I decided to use Whole Grain Sprouted pita to make the carbs we are eat work for us, i.e., nutritional and delicious at the same time! Baking the chips instead of frying them also keeps the dish healthy and hands off so you are free to prep the rest of your salad. How easy, right?
As a bonus, you can make extra chips and store them in an airtight container. They will last for a few weeks which means you can also make these ahead of time if you’d like.
If you’d like to make this recipe gluten free, just use gluten free bread like this one!
Step 2 - Make the Dressing
The dressing in this recipe is as simple as it gets and is the perfect balance of salt, fat, acid and herb. It’s basically olive oil and vinegar however, there is a secret ingredient that makes this dressing totally unique… Pomegranate Molasses! Middle Easterners use Pomegranate Molasses in so many creative ways but this is, hands down, one of my favorite ways to use it. It makes the dressing taste so different and delicious. I can’t even describe it. You’d have to just taste it to see for yourself.
I was torn on whether or not to include the dried herbs as part of the dressing recipe. However, in this recipe, the salad is topped with dried mint and sumac, mixed into the salad mix and then dressed with the dressing separately. To give the dressing a little pop, I added a heavy pinch of the dried mint that is part of the salad ingredients to the dressing mix. It marinates the dressing in the minty flavor without becoming too bitter if the dressing sits too long, as dried mint can do that to a cold dressing like this one.
Also, the acidity in this dressing is no joke! Feel free to balance it out with a little dollop of honey and a tiny pinch of salt to your liking. You should be tasting this dressing as your making it. The method is to add half of the oil, and the vinegar and molasses, taste it. Then add more olive oil as it’s being mixed until the acid and fattiness of the oil are balanced. Taste the dresssing again. Season with the honey and salt and then taste…again and adjust accordingly.
Step 3 - Assemble the Salad
Not much different here from a regular old salad, folks. Wash and dry your vegetables. Assemble the salad. Top with fresh herbs, dried spices and pita chips and dress it at the last minute! You want the pita chips to stay as crunchy as possible while still soaking up the delicious dressing. You can alternatively, leave the salad undressed and serve it with the dressing on the side.
Go wild with variations if you’d like. Add feta cheese for an added layer of fattiness. If you love the briny, salty elements of pickles, feel free to add olives. If you want more herbs, add dill or parsley or both! But to keep this easy and traditionally as close my family version, I kept it simple.
Are you ready to make your own Fattoush Salad?
Recipe: Classic Fattoush Salad
Prep and Cook Time – 30 min
For the pita chips
2 pita rounds, whole grain preferred
2 tsp sumac
1-2 tbs Olive oil
For the Dressing
3-6 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tbs pomegranate molasses
1.5 tbs white wine/champagne vinegar
1 tbs honey (optional)
Heavy pinch dried mint
For the salad
2 Heads Romaine Lettuce – roughly chopped
½ English Cucumber, halved lengthwise, sliced thin
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4-5 large radishes, sliced thin
½ yellow pepper, sliced thin
2-3 sprigs mint, roughly chopped
1 scant tbs dried mint (less the heavy pinch used in dressing)
1 tbs sumac
Step 1: Make the Pita Chips - Preheat oven to 350F/177 C. Cut pita rounds into cubes. In a medium mixing bowl add olive oil until all pieces are evenly coated, about 1-2 tbs. Add sumac and mix until all pieces are evenly coated in oil and sumac. Bake 15-20 min, flip once halfway through cooking time. Remove, cool and store in an airtight container.
Step 2: Make the Dressing - Combine all ingredients together, reserving about 3 tbs of oil. Add remaining olive oil in a steady stream, mixing until the taste is to your preference. (taste should be slightly tangy, sweet and not too sharp… the olive oil balances out the acid) Add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of honey to balance out the acidic vinegar. If you like it extra sour, leave out the honey and add more olive oil.
Step 3: Make the Salad – Wash and dry all vegetables. Add all chopped ingredients together with a handful of pita chips, reserving the fresh mint. Mix all ingredients, top with remaining pita chips and the fresh mint. Dress the salad right before serving. Enjoy!