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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Home Grown

Bon Appetit, May, 2012
Now that the weather is getting warmer, I am getting more enthusiastic about salads.  Ted has planted  basil and rosemary, and my mint is coming back full force.  The tomatoes are still just little seedlings but it's just a matter of time before I have, what I hope, will be a bumper crop.

I was going through some cooking magazines looking for a nice salad to make with dinner on Friday night.  I wanted something colorful with a lot of different textures.  I thought about making a panzanella salad, but then I happened on this recipe for a fattoush salad.

I have never made a fattoush salad before.  It's sort of a Middle Eastern version of the Italian panzanella salad, and uses toasted pita in place of the toasted bread.  The dressing is heavy on ground sumac and uses pomegranate molasses.  I thought it sounded really interesting and delicious.

My first order of business was to procure some sumac and some pomegranate molasses.  This is where Google is invaluable.  A quick search revealed that there was a Middle Eastern market just a few minutes from my house.  In fact, it's so close that I've probably passed it 100 times.  I zipped over and picked up my ingredients and I was ready to go.

Like panzanella, fattoush requires a lot of cutting and chopping.  The result is a really colorful and flavorful salad, which is actually hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian entree.

Ted and Kate loved it and I felt like I put some of the mint I have growing in my backyard to good use.  As the summer progresses, I'll be able to come up with most everything I need for this salad just by going into my backyard.

Recipe:  Fattoush
(Bon Appetit, May, 2012)


For the Dressing:
4 teaspoons ground sumac, soaked in 4 teaspoons warm water for 15 minutes
3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons (or more) pomegranate molasses
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons (or more) white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried mint
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

For the Salad:

2 8-inch-diameter pita breads, halved, toasted until golden brown, broken into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped, or 4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 pound Persian cucumbers, or one 1-pound English hothouse cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise
6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Little Gem or baby romaine lettuces, or 1 small head romaine lettuce, trimmed, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch strips
2 cups (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 cups purslane leaves or additional 3/4-inch-strips romaine lettuce
1 cup fresh mint leaves
Ground sumac (optional)


To Make the Dressing:

Combine sumac with soaking liquid, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses, garlic, 2 tsp. vinegar, and dried mint in a small bowl. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly, until well blended. Season with salt; add more lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and vinegar to taste, if desired.

To Make the Salad:

Place pita pieces in a medium bowl; pour oil over and toss to coat. Season pita to taste with salt.
Mix tomatoes and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add 3/4 of dressing; toss to coat, adding more dressing by tablespoonfuls as needed. Season with salt. Add pita; toss once. Sprinkle sumac over, if desired.

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