It really shouldn’t be a laughing matter; I take my food very seriously, as most people could probably guess. And yet, every time someone utters the word “fattoush,” almost like clockwork, I can’t help but have a minor giggle fit. Yes, I know, it’s essentially nothing more exotic than a middle eastern bread salad, making use of just about any vegetable you have kicking around in the fridge and cut up old pitas, but I can’t help but hear “fat tush” when it’s spoken aloud. As in, “Get off your fat tush and make a damn salad!”
Instead of just keeping these immature thoughts to myself, I decided to indulge that impulse and finally make one. Why not? An excellent way to use up excess produce and past-prime bread, the seasonings give everything a flavorful new twist and breathe new life into an otherwise unexciting assembly of discordant edibles. While the summer veggies are still good for the getting, it doesn’t hurt to add to your yearly salad quota, too. Perhaps it can even prevent that “fat tush” it hints at. One can only hope.
Though I’ve included my own approach, swap and substitute at will, because this is another one of those “anything goes” sort of dishes. The only real key ingredient that can not be fooled around with is the za’atar. Though blends do vary in their exact contents and proportions, it involves ground sesame seeds plus various herbs and spices. You can buy a mix in middle eastern markets, or make your own very easily. Whatever you do, just don’t dream of omitting it!
1 Tablespoon Za’atar
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 6 or 8-Inch Round Pieces Pita Bread, Toasted and Chopped into Bite-Sized Pieces
1 15-Ounce Can Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed
1 3.8-Ounce Can Sliced Black Olives
1 Large Roma Tomato, Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, Roasted and Diced
1 Head Romaine Lettuce, Chopped
1/4 Large Red Onion, Thinly sliced
1/2 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt and Pepper
Fresh Mint Leaves, to Garnish (Optional)
Though this recipe barely needs instruction, here goes: Whisk together the za’atar, lemon juice, and vinegar in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify the dressing. Once well-combined, set aside.
Toss together all of the remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl so that all the veggies and pieces of pita are evenly distributed throughout. Drizzle the dressing over while continuing to toss, so that the whole salad gets an even coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and top with mint leaves, if desired.
Serves 3 – 4 as a Main, 7 – 8 as a Side Dish