Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and the days are getting warmer and longer: it’s finally spring in Chicago and the world feels alive again at last. And when this warmer weather arrives, I’m always more inclined to eat refreshing meals like this fattoush salad. Have you had fattoush before? I think of it as a Middle Eastern panzanella salad, as it has toasted pita nestled among fresh vegetables, herbs and romaine. It has quickly become one of my go-to dinners when I’m looking for something quick and healthy.
Apparently everyone has their own way of making a fattoush, but the requirement is always toasted pita and the use of sumac. Sumac is a spice that is quite popular in Middle Eastern cooking, as it lends a bright and citrus-like flavor to meals. It’s the most beautiful deep pink color and certainly packs a punch. I’ve paired it with tahini to make a creamy, zesty dressing for the fattoush. The pita, which I bake with some smoked paprika, soaks up the dressing beautifully. I like to make my fattoush more substantial by adding avocado and chickpeas, which rounds this out to become a proper meal. Finally, salty kalamata olives and aromatic parsley add even more depth to the salad.
The great thing about this salad is its versatility: feel free to play around with the vegetables you have on hand. You really can’t go wrong where pita, tahini and fresh vegetables are involved.
- 1 whole wheat pita
- Smoked paprika
- About 4 cups romaine (enough for two salads)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ¼ cup cucumber, sliced and quartered
- ½ a red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ½ cup cooked chickpeas
- ½ an avocado, cut into small pieces
- ¼ cup kalamata olives
- For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sumac
- Pinch of salt
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Slice the pita into bite-size pieces and arrange on a baking sheet. Lightly spray with olive oil or rub a few drops on with your fingers. Sprinkle with a light dusting of smoked paprika and a pinch of salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crisp.
- In the meantime, toss all of the other salad ingredients in a large bowl and whisk the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
- Add the toasted pita and dressing to the salad. Serve immediately.
Note: The tahini I use is a little on the thinner side. If yours is more of a paste-like consistency, add some water to the dressing until you reach a desired thickness.