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Fattoush {recipe}

Today I decided to whip up a fairly simple salad. According to Wikipedia, Fattoush is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with seasonal produce (usually tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes), mixed greens and herbs. The mixed green component is made up of Romaine lettuce and mache (purslane), which is actually a weed with a subtle lemon flavour. Sumac, lemon and olive oil are the key ingredients in a steller dressing that completes this salad perfectly, in this instance a little pomegranate molasses has been included to intensify the flavours and add a little sweet/tart kick.

So, if you are looking for a little Lebanese on your dinner (or lunch) plate then look no further, serve it with a few other Middle Eastern dishes and you will have yourself a nice little banquet.

And one more thing, don’t miss out coating the toasted pita in olive oil – it prevents the pita from getting soggy when mixed with the vegetables and dressing.

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

Salad Ingredients

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

Combine sumac with soaking liquid, 3 lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, garlic, 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.

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.

Notes: Sumac is a tart, citrusy spice that is available at specialty foods stores and Middle Eastern markets. Pomegranate molasses can be found at some supermarkets (Wholefoods has it) and at Middle Eastern markets.

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