Until I moved to the east side of Michigan, I had no idea what fattoush was. Middle eastern restaurants are very popular around here and I remember the first time Marc’s family took me to one. It was a whole new experience with fast middle eastern music, draped fabric everywhere and new-to-me food. With a little help while ordering, I became a fan of the fresh and flavorful food pretty quickly.
Fattoush and tabouli salad with tangy lemon dressing is usually the first course with as much fresh pita and garlic sauce or hummus as you can handle. The warm pita comes from their hearth ovens that bubbles to perfection before they are removed with long paddles and served hot in baskets. The garlic sauce will stay with you for days, but it’s totally worth it and their hummus is always smooth and perfect. Each time I go, I tell myself to just order a salad and feel less guilty about the pita and dips, yet, I always order my favorite main dishes of either shish tawook lemon oregano (chicken kebab) or shish kafta (ground meat with parsley and onions on a kebab). We like leftovers.
Basically, Fattoush is a middle eastern version of panzanella. A bread salad made with crisp pita instead of bread cubes, but with lots of lettuce, too. It also has fresh tomato, cucumber, onion and a good sprinkle of tangy sumac. The mint and parsley are pretty crucial to the taste of this salad, so I urge you not to skip them. The bright lemon dressing is punchy and complements everything in the salad. Here, I used an extra large heirloom tomato in pretty shades of orange and yellow and lettuce from my CSA.
Now I can enjoy fattoush at home while a safe distance from the pita pushers. They know I’ll be back.