Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Fattoush with feta

You've probably only had fattoush at Lebanese restaurants as part of an elaborate mezze spread (or perhaps that's just me who's been missing out) but I'd like to inform you that it makes a wonderful main. With some feta thrown in. And it's easy to make.

The dressing is superbly tangy thanks to a mix of vinegar, lemon juice and it's man of the hour, sumac. This bright and sparky spice has a lemony flavour and adds an extra special tang to a range of Middle eastern dishes (it's the pink splosh in the photos, the sesame splosh is za'atar).

Enough of the waffle, here I present you with your delicious, colourful, healthy Middle Eastern salad. In case you're worried about it not being sufficient for belly-filling and secret indulgence, it's got chunks of toasted, olive oil dipped pita in it. Yup.

As per usual, I've had a look at and fiddled with a range of different recipes, this here is collaboration of them all that works for me (and hopefully you).


Quantities: 4 servings
Kitchen Stuff: Not much, big bowl, little bowl, frying pan, whisk.
Timings: 25 mins


2 tsp sumac, soaked in 2 tsp warm water for 10 mins
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (or 1 tsp pomegranate molasses if you have it!)
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried mint (if you don't have it, you can leave it out)
75 ml (1/4 cup +1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil 
large pinch of salt

3 pita breads, toasted lightly until just starting to brown
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, quartered and sliced
300g cucumber (about 1 small english cucumber) halved lengthways and sliced
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
2 little gem or one large romaine head, sliced
1 cup of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked
1/2 cup whole mint, leaves picked
100g - 120g feta
1 tsp sumac
1/2 za'atar (if you have it)
100g radishes (3-4 radishes), finely sliced
Pomegranate seeds, about 1/2 pomegranate worth


1. DRESSING: In a small bowl, soak the sumac. Combine all the other dressing ingredients except for the olive oil then add to the sumac. Mix thoroughly then slowly whisk in olive oil until all combined. Set aside for now.

2. PITA: Lightly toast your pita if you haven't already. Tear it into chunks (without burning your hands). Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium frying pan. Toss in the pita chunks until all coated in olive oil - this will stop your pita soaking up the dressing and will keep it crunchy and delicious, yum. Fry for a minute or so on each side until golden and crispy. 

3. SALAD: Mix your chopped tomatoes, cucumber, radishes, lettuce, spring onions, parsley and mint in a large bowl. Add most of the dressing and toss gently. Add the pita and gently toss once. Add the feta and gently toss again. Sprinkle the salad with a couple of handfuls of pomegranate seeds*, sumac and za'atar. Garnish with mint leaves and add any remaining dressing if you think it needs it.

Serve immediately after dressing. 

*pomegranate seeds add a wonderful sweetness that balances with the tangy dressing, wouldn't miss these out if you want a wonderous result.

Ottolenghi, my main man, has a wonderful tip for removing pomegranate seeds that doesn't include a painful half an hour of rummaging through fruit with juicy fingers. 

Slice the pomegranate across its belly and hold one half, seeds down, in your palm over a large bowl. Grab a wooden spoon and firmly tap (or whack) the skin of the pomegranate until the seeds start falling out into your palm and the bowl. Now pick out the few small white bits and you're good to go. The reason for holding it seeds down in your palm is to keep them out of your hair and the rest of the kitchen.