I was lucky enough to grow up in the Metro Detroit area…..an area rich with cultural diversity. In school, there were kids of Italian, Polish, German, Hungarian, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Balkan descent. There were more but I can’t even name all of the backgrounds…there were so many. For me, it was the best of America……a true melting pot. One thing I really miss is all the wonderful and delicious Lebanese food that can be found there. It’s colorful and healthy. Lots of salads and vegetables. Just before my husband arrived this weekend, I talked to him on the phone and I asked him what he wanted to eat first when he came back…”Fattoush,” he said, “I miss your awesome Fattoush.” I had not made Fattoush in awhile because it can be a bit time consuming……not complicated but there is a bit of prep work. What I do to make it more worth my while is make enough to last for several days. I clean and cut all of the vegetables, mix them together but without the dressing and then store this salad mixture in zippered plastic bags in the refrigerator. This way the salad mixture will last much of the week. I toss in the chopped parsley, pita bread and dressing just before serving. This salad mixture is adaptable….instead of Fattoush you can make a tasty Greek salad by adding feta cheese, olives and Greek dressing instead of the pita, parsley and Fattoush dressing. Or you can leave it as is and use it with your favorite dressing. I don’t have precise measurements for this recipe because it should be to your taste, so you may add or remove as much of each item as you like. A tip for the moms out there: When my son was younger and would not eat spinach, I would sneak it into this salad by chopping it up….he didn’t know it was in there for the longest time and ate this salad blissfully unaware.
For Salad Mixture:
-One head of Romaine lettuce, trimmed, washed and dried in salad spinner if possible (you can use a mix of lettuces but try to avoid iceberg)
-1/2 or whole bunch of spinach, trimmed, washed and dried in salad spinner if possible
-1/4 head of red cabbage, washed and sliced thinly
-One or 2 carrots, washed, peeled and then sliced or peeled thinly into strips
-1/2 or whole red onion, peeled and sliced thin
-4 or 5 radishes, trimmed and sliced thin
Tear lettuces into bit-sized pieces and mix with all of the above ingredients. Place into 2 or 3 gallon-size zippered plastic bags and store in the refrigerator.
-Juice of one lemon
-One or 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
-3/4 teaspoon of dried sumac, normally found in Middle Eastern of specialty grocery stores
-salt to taste
-enough extra virgin olive oil to make the ratio of oil to lemon juice, 1:1 for tart or 2:1 for a mild taste
Place these into a jar or bottle and shake well. Store in refrigerator until needed.
To make Fattoush salad:
-One bag of salad mix
-1/2 to whole bunch of Italian, flat-leaf parsley, trimmed, washed and dried in salad spinner, chopped
-One thin-type(if possible) pita bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted in 300 degree oven until slightly dark and crisp, (watch carefully because it can burn quickly), cooled
Place salad mixture and chopped parsley into a large bowl. Break up pita bread into shards on top of salad. Add desired amount of dressing and mix well. Serve with Feta cheese if desired.