Monday, September 30, 2013

Na'ama's Fattoush

Na'ama's Fattoush
It's not often that you'll hear me saying that I crave salad, but the Levantine salad, Fattoush, is something I'm always in the mood for. There's something about the lemony, minty dressing that I can't get enough of. Loaded with chopped vegetables and toasted {or stale} flatbread, it's very much like another favorite salad of mine, Panzanella, also known as, Italian bread salad. In both cases, the crispy bread is softened by the dressing, adding substance to an otherwise light dish. It can really be a meal in itself.
My love for this salad was in overdrive during my recent pregnancy, but I wasn't making it myself. Instead, I was buying it at one of my favorite Middle Eastern spots, and while their version is delicious, now that I've started getting a grip on my life, it's time I got busy in the kitchen making my own.
A fantastically gorgeous cookbook that's been calling my name helped get me back in my blogging boots. Jerusalem, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, is one of the more spectacular cookbooks I own. The photography is unreal, and each page has something even more delicious looking than the one before. However, this recipe for Fattoush was the one that needed to be made first.
Buttermilk & Bread
Years ago, I made another version of Fattoush here. While also very delicious, it's quite different from this one. I've never had Fattoush with a creamy, "buttermilk-like" dressing such as this one...which was a large part of why I wanted to try it. You can opt to buy store-bought buttermilk to save time, but I followed the recipe and made my own by combining plain Greek yogurt with milk. It takes several hours for the bubbling action to take place, but if you plan ahead, you can make it the day before, and leave it in the fridge overnight.
Instead of using stale pita bread, this recipe calls for Turkish flatbread...but you could certainly substitute pita, or even naan, if you so desire. I love the Middle Eastern flatbreads from Trader Joe's, so that's what I used. I cut the flatbread into triangles and toasted them briefly to crisp them up, but leaving them out overnight to stale would have worked too. Before I added the flatbread to the salad, I broke the triangles into bite-sized pieces.
One of the beautiful things about a chopped vegetable salad such as this, is that you can use up bits and pieces of whatever vegetables you might have laying around your fridge. I mostly used what the recipe called for, but I tweaked it slightly based on what looked good at my local farmer's market the week I made it. For instance, cherry tomatoes are abundant in late Summer, so I used some of those, but I also had one ripe tomato on hand, so I used that too.
Dressing & Toss
Some other notes about this salad...I halved the original recipe, and omitted the addition of vinegar, because I felt the buttermilk, along with the lemon juice, was acidic enough. I also recommend that you add half of the buttermilk dressing to the salad, and toss, then add in more as needed. Basically, you want enough to soften the flatbread, but not so much that you have soup at the bottom of the bowl.
Add Bread
Na'ama's Fattoush
Now that we're entering into Fall, you could try substituting some seasonal vegetables too. Slightly blanched fava beans, or green beans would be great. I'd love some raw, chopped cauliflower, broccoli, or bell peppers in this salad too. You can get creative, or leave it traditional, but this recipe is certainly flexible. I hope you enjoy this bright and vibrant salad as much as I did!
Some more of my favorite salad recipes - Mexican Chopped Salad with Agave Lime Dressing | Mustard Chicken Salad | Endive & Clementine Salad | Fennel & Orange Salad | Roasted Corn & Edamame Succotash | Fattoush

Na'ama's Fattoush

{printable recipe}
Yields: 4 servings as a side dish, or 2-3 hearty main dish servings
Adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi
Note // you can replace the yogurt and milk with 3/4 cups store-bought buttermilk, if desired.

1/2 cup plain Greek style yogurt
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons whole milk
2 6" flatbreads
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 mini cucumbers, peeled & chopped
2 scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small clove garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon sumac

Whisk together the yogurt and milk. Store in a sealed jar, refrigerated, for a minimum of 3 hours, or up to a day. When done, small bubbles will have formed on the surface, and your left with a homemade buttermilk, but less sour.

Cut the flatbread into wedges, and toast on a baking sheet in a 350˚ oven for 10-15 minutes, or until crispy and just beginning to brown, flipping the pieces halfway through. Set aside to cool while you prepare the salad ingredients. Alternatively, you can use stale flatbread.

Add the tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, scallions, mint, parsley, and garlic to a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine, and dress with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss again. About 10 minutes before serving, tear the toasted flatbread into bite-sized pieces, and add them to the bowl. Pour the yogurt/milk mixture over the salad, and toss gently. Let the fattoush sit for 5 minutes, so that the flavors have a chance to blend, and the flatbread softens slightly. Garnish with the sumac, and serve. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

This is so colourful, love fattoush!

Joanne said...

Yay for getting back to blogging! And what a way to return. I love all things Ottolenghi and have heard amazing things about this fattoush. You make it look fabulous.

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