Fattoush is similar to a Middle Eastern version of panzanella, Italy’s popular bread salad. This nontraditional recipe features dry, salty ricotta salata; it makes a great starter or meatless main, or you can add grilled chicken for some protein. Purslane, a sour, succulent Mediterranean herb, is also a classic addition, but you can’t find it, use mache or more romaine.
Olive oil for frying
1 large pita bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1 heart of romaine lettuce, cored and chopped (about 2 cups/4 oz./125 g.)
1 cup (2 oz./60 g.) purslane, chopped
1 cup (6 oz./185 g.) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/3 cup (1 oz./30 g.) very thinly sliced red onion
3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 oz. (60 g.) ricotta salata cheese, coarsely grated (optional)
1/2 tsp. ground sumac, plus more for garnish
For the dressing:
3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. ground sumac
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) olive oil
Pour olive oil to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm.) into a large frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add some of the pita pieces; be sure not to crowd the pan. Fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining pita pieces. Let cool completely.
In a large salad bowl, combine the lettuce, purslane, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, mint, parsley, ricotta salata (if using) and sumac.
To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, salt, pepper and sumac. Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until a smooth, emulsified dressing forms.
Add the pita pieces to the salad and drizzle half of the dressing over the top. Toss to mix well. Sample a lettuce leaf or two and a bite of vegetable. Add more dressing to taste, if needed. (Refrigerate the remaining dressing for another use. It will keep for up to 7 days.) Sprinkle with a little more sumac and serve right away. Serves 6-8.
Recipe from Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan.