It was kind of like someone telling you, hey, you have crumbs on your face from the cookie you just inhaled.
Or: there’s a tag hanging from the sleeve of your blouse.
Or: yes, we loved your recipes. But…
Well, the fattoush. My husband refused to eat it that way. Your way.
And that was how I was ushered, ever so gently, into the world of perfect fattoush, the classic Lebanese bread salad. My friend Janet was graciously testing recipes for me for the Rose Water & Orange Blossoms cookbook, and her assignment was the fattoush.
Here I’d gotten all sassy with “Fattoush Wedge Salads” for the book, applying to it the inventiveness with Lebanese recipes that I love so much. They’re good wedges, and you’ll find them here in the early recipes of my blog. But fattoush, in all of its classic glory, they are not.
Janet is a brilliant and gentle soul, and I could tell she didn’t want to offend. When I did pull the thoughts from her, she said her Lebanese husband didn’t at all want to eat the fattoush as a wedge. It just wasn’t the same. It wasn’t nearly as good.
I understood. Honestly, I had been on the fence about doing the wedge-style for the book anyway. Really I was! I thought it was a good idea not to mess with traditional version.
There’s more though, Janet said. My eyes grew wide! Do tell?!
It’s the vinaigrette…it’s missing the pomegranate molasses. The pomegranate molasses just gives it the [here Janet smacked her lips with the tips of her fingers in place of a word] that is so good, SO classic fattoush.
Now, in the world of becoming a great cook and writing a great cookbook, there are few things that will hold you back more than a thin skin. And in the world of the Lebanese, where our people love to share, ever so lovingly, what is right about their way and wrong about yours, you learn to take it all in. You learn to actually enjoy the exchange. You learn to actually listen.
You learn to . . . learn.
Thank God for that. My classic fattoush is now the darling of my table, the darling of my plate.
It’s gotten to be so addictive that I will, in the face of enormous, epic Lebanese spreads of my own making, fill my plate half with fattoush, and the rest is just a supporting cast. A yogurt-marinated chicken skewer (the shish tawook from my cookbook!) makes the perfect side kick to a plate of fattoush. It’s all I need.
I’m in so deep that I’ve made a how-to fattoush video, and over at Maureen Abood Market, a Fattoush Kit. In it you’ll find the perfect imported Lebanese Pomegranate Molasses, the ground sumac, and my own special touch (but still classic, I promise), Garlic Mint Salt. Oh, and a recipe card. This is perfect for you, and perfect for a host’s gift.
You know the salad we’ll have on our table this Thanksgiving then. Fattoush rocks as a compliment to the turkey and all of the sweet/soft/rich trimmings. I don’t know if my fattoush will get half the plate’s real estate that day, but she’ll be there with all of the other Thanksgiving dishes we never mess with, because we love them at their classic best.
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Garlic Mint Salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons sumac, divided
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- Homemade Pita Chips
- 10 fresh mint leaves, chopped or torn
- For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk the lemon, pomegranate molasses, garlic, salt, 1 teaspoon of the Garlic Mint Salt, 1 teaspoon of the sumac, and olive oil until it is thoroughly combined.
- In your big salad bowl, combine the romaine, tomatoes, onion, radishes, and pita chips. Dress the salad with the vinaigrette, tossing it to evenly coat everything. Dust the fattoush with the remaining Garlic Mint Salt and sumac, fresh mint, and serve immediately.