Monday, August 9, 2010


It recently dawned on me that the best way to support my determination to eat a healthier diet was to make sure the good foods I brought home were prepped and ready for grabbing and gobbling. I can be lazy and just having them in the house was not enough. Also, Atlanta’s swampy summer heat was fast approaching. That meant my motivation and activity level were about to take a nosedive.

I needed a good alternative to the easy shove-cracker-in-the-mouth routine I occasionally (frequently) adopt.

Digging around for ideas that would translate into quick and easy but could also hang out in the fridge, I stumbled on Fattoush.

It is pronounced Faa-toosh. It is a salad. It originates from either Syria or Lebanon and dates back hundreds of years.

I loved it on first sight and knew it was going to land on my favorite summer foods list. It had a lot of fresh mint. I could use my preserved lemon. It came from the Mediterranean world of tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush.

Fattoush is meant to have hearty pieces of raw vegetable and is traditionally topped with stale or fried pita. Portions often have more veg and a bit less greenery than the usual salad. The dressing is tart and lemony, a perfect contrast to the sweet summer vegetables.

Prepping ahead allows you to toss handfuls of veg and greenery into your favorite salad vessel, drizzle dressing, top with bread and be ready to eat in under 5 minutes.

Instant gratification!

My Version of Fattoush and How I Prep Ahead
(about 4 servings to last 4 days).

1. The Bread
• 2 pita bread pockets
• 1 clove garlic
• Olive oil

Open up the pita and gently rub the inside with the clove of garlic. Put on a cookie pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Toast at 400° for 10 minutes. Cool and break into wedges. Store at room temp.

2. The Dressing
• ½ cup water
• 1 tsp cornstarch
• Juice of 2 lemons
• Skin from ½ preserved lemon, rinsed and finely minced, or zest of ½ lemon
• 2 cloves of garlic pureed---1 clove can be from the pita (puree in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of coarse salt or “puree” on your cutting board with salt and the flat side of your knife)
• 3 TBS of good olive oil
• Pinch of sugar
• S&P to taste
**½ tsp Sumac powder

Combine the water and cornstarch in a small saucepan and heat over medium, whisking until the cornstarch dissolves and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool and then whisk in the balance of dressing ingredients.

Store, tightly covered, in the fridge. Shake well before using.

3. The Greens
1 cup mint leaves
½ cup flat leafed parsley
***5 ounces purslane (or arugula)

Toss together. Wrap lightly in damp paper towel and tuck into a zip loc bag. Store in the fridge

4. The Veg
½ cup grape or cherry tomatoes
2 Kirby cucumbers (pickle cucs), seeded (not skinned) and cut into 1” pieces
4 radishes, sliced thin
½ red onion, cut into 1” dice
1 red, yellow or green pepper, cut into 1” pieces
½ cup of canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Store in a strainer set into a bowl-----to catch any seepage. Top veg with dry paper towel and set a few ice cubes inside the rim of the strainer to weigh down the paper towel. Refrigerate.

Optional other things: carrot (cut into round slices), red cabbage (cut into 1” pieces), black olives, pomegranate seeds, feta cheese served in a wedge and set over the top of the salad.

**Sumac is a reddish colored powder with a sour lemony taste. It is also used with kabobs, rice dishes and sprinkled over humus. In Atlanta, find it at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market in the European
Or, look for it in any market that carries eastern Mediterranean foods---Turkish, Lebanese, Arabic. On line:   .Sumac 7ozSumac Spice 2.0 oz - Zamouri Spices.
They have a 7 ounce package for $3.96.

***Purslane has a peppery crunchy taste and looks like baby spinach. It also contains more omega3 (good) fatty acids than any other green leafy veg. I have had trouble finding it in Atlanta. I substitute arugula.