It’s time for me to rediscover my love of salad. It is definitely not a hard relationship to rekindle but I’ve somehow lost sight of it’s flare as I’ve been distracted by cocktails, making homemade sausage, cheese-laden pastas and hearty roasts. But this week Gabe went ahead and said it, “We need to eat healthier.” Gah. Of course he was totally right but I wasn’t ready to admit it publicly.
Our eating habits go through fits and spurts with some seasons having more green on our plates but then there are the weeks of traveling, busy schedules and exhaustion that keep us from wiping the dust off the juicer or reaching into the crisper where the vegetables have since withered and died. The unhealthy streak putters on until one of us cries uncle and declares a change. And that’s when I rediscover salad and fall madly in love with it’s creativity, color and diversity again.
This time I’m starting with Fattoush. Mostly because I love to say the word, “Fattoush” but also because we’ve been on the sort of Mediterranean kick where mint, lemon and greek yogurt are key players. Fattoush is essentially a chopped salad with endless variations. It’s the sort of salad where I imagine every grandma in Arabic countries has their own recipe and deems it, “the best”.
Now I have my own version which is based off of the one found in the book, Jerusalem. I reach for this book often when I’m looking to get out of a certain cooking rut and enter into a world of foreign spices, creative recipes and gorgeous images of countries I long to visit. The Fattoush instantly caught my eye as I stared at the vibrant ingredients and it had those three ingredients – lemon, mint and greek yogurt – that I just can’t resist.
Essentially Fattoush is a bread salad. Stale or crisped naan (or pita) is mixed with a variety of chopped vegetables, handfuls of herbs and a light dressing of yogurt, lemon juice, a bit of oil and sumac. Sumac is the ground fruit of a Sumac tree. It’s tart and almost lemon-like in flavor with a stunning reddish purple hue. You can find it online or at spice shops. If you simply can’t find it you can use more lemon juice and a bit of zest in its place although I do recommend you seek it out.
This is the sort of salad that makes eating healthy seem incredibly easy and exciting. The bright bite of the herbs excite in a way that heavy foods just can’t and yet you feel sort of indulgent as the yogurt creates a rich and creamy dressing. It’s the perfect salad to lead us back into healthier eating, that is, until I decide to make another batch of cookies. As Julia Child says, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
*I realize last week I teased you with bacon and now you come here and I’m talking about salad?! I’m terrible. But I promise, bacon is coming. Eat some salad first in preparation.
4 cups torn naan or pita
1 cup Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced fresh radishes
1 cucumber peeled and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup to 1 cup fresh torn mint
In a skillet with a bit of olive oil or in a oven, crisp the pieces of naan or pita until golden and crisp on the outside dried throughout. You could also just use very stale bread.
Mix together the yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and sumac in a bowl.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the yogurt dressing finish with more sumac if you’d like.
For a heartier meal serve with grilled chicken, steak or an oily fish.