When you crave something light, refreshing, healthy, and flavorful this summer, reach for a modified version of the Middle-Eastern salad known as fattoush (or fatoosh). Traditional fattoush includes toasted pieces of pita, but if you’re allergic to wheat or gluten (or simply want to cut down on your grain consumption), you’ll want to leave out that ingredient. There are as many versions of fattoush as there are regions in the Middle-East, but I’ve reproduced my favorite adaptation for you below. This one is excellent for diabetics, hypoglycemics, individuals with allergies, and candida-sufferers.
I serve fattoush as a perfect accompaniment to Lemon Lentil Soup with Collards, lamb burgers, or hummus (I’ll post recipes for the latter two options soon). For food-combining reasons, I prefer to eat fattoush with either lentil soup or lamb burgers, but when I have company, I prepare all three dishes together. Alternatively, I reach for fattoush at breakfast or throughout the day as a snack.
Although the particular combination of ingredients may be unfamiliar to you, I hope you’ll give this dish a try. The flavors in fattoush are very friendly to the American palate. Even unadventurous eaters enjoy this salad when I don’t tell them beforehand that it’s Middle-Eastern.
Gluten-Free Fattoush (only very slightly altered from a version I found on www.allrecipes.com)
8 leaves romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
2 green onions, sliced
1 large English (seedless) cucumber, chopped and, unless the skin is too tough, unpeeled
3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sumac powder
3/4 to 1 teaspoon quality sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
In a large bowl, gently toss the first four ingredients together. Although you may feel like there’s too much lettuce, rest assured that it will wilt once you add the dressing. Sometimes I leave out the lettuce altogether, though, so don’t sweat it too much.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the chopped vegetables and gently turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.
If you can’t find English cucumbers, use 1 or 2 regular cucumbers (depending on size) and remove most of the seeds. Since they’re usually covered in a thick layer of wax, unless they’re organic, always peel this variety.
Ethnic and specialty grocery stores typically carry sumac. I buy mine inexpensively at Phoenicia Foods here in Houston. Otherwise, you can purchase it online at this website or simply go without. I prefer this salad with the sumac, but it’s still excellent sans sumac.