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TASTEFOOD

Give yourself a salad break

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There are times when you simply need a light and healthy timeout. When the weather is hot and cooking is out of the question, or if you've been overindulging in meaty protein since the onset of grilling season, a simple salad presents a welcome break. Especially when it's a fattoush salad. 

Fattoush is a traditional Levantine salad. It's a garden salad and a bread salad at once, brimming with fresh greens and garden vegetables, studded with feta cheese and olives, and tumbled with shards of crispy pita bread. It's a light, bright and remarkably satisfying dish, thanks to the convergence of textures and salty, briny flavors. The pita pieces serve as "croutons" and soak up a puckery dressing infused with lemon and sumac.  

Sumac may be the spice you didn't know you needed. It's a tart red berry that is dried, ground and used for cooking in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Sumac has a distinct sharp and floral flavor and imparts a tang to dressings, marinades and seasonings for meat and vegetables. Unlike lemons or vinegar, it's neither bitter nor acidic, yet it imparts an acidic and citrusy note when added to a dish. It also is a vibrant garnish, thanks to its garnet color. 

Fattoush Salad 

Active time: 15 minutes 

Total time: 15 minutes 

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 

  • 2 pita breads, each about 6 inches 
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 

Dressing: 

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil  
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pushed through a press 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sumac 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste  

Salad: 

  • 1 head romaine (or 2 little gems), torn into bite-size pieces  
  • 1 cup baby arugula  
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved 
  • 1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives 
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for garnish 
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves, coarsely chopped  
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped 
  • Sumac for sprinkling 

Heat the oven broiler or grill. Lightly brush the pita bread with olive oil and cut each pita into 6 wedges. Broil or grill until light golden and crisp. Remove from the heat, cool to the touch and break into bite-size pieces. 

Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl until emulsified. 

Combine the salad ingredients and the pita in a large bowl. Drizzle half of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette to your taste and toss again. Serve garnished with additional feta and a sprinkle of sumac. 

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