Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fattoush with za'atar croutons

We are counting the days until we leave for vacation and I am simultaneously counting the calories in my food and the kilos on my scale. I am not too happy with the result, I'm telling you. Also, after that cheese and meat fest last weekend, my body is begging me to detox a little and eat healthier. If I happen to shed a couple of pounds whilst pampering my insides, no one is complaining right?

I went over to My New Roots (because let's face it, Sarah radiates such healthy beauty you cannot not follow her advice) to read up on detoxing, fasting (just daydreaming) and came across quite a few recipes I could not resist. Because, although many are a little too healthy for my palate, others are lovely and mouthwatering even if you are not on a health kick. So now I am drinking a glass of warm water with lemon juice every morning on an empty stomach and I am trying to eat as healthy as possible, cutting out any excess and getting ideas from her.

Out goes cheese with natural molds perfect for polenta, enter fattoush.

Fattoush, as most of you probably already know, is a Levantine salad typically made with parsley, mint, tomatoes and cucumbers (or other seasonal vegetables). Stale, preferably fried pita bread and sumac are key ingredients and the vegetables and herbs are more coarsely chopped than for tabbouleh. Fatt in Arabic means crushed. It is a refreshing salad with a pungent, sour flavour imparted by the sumac (a powder whose name is the same as the dried berries it is made with, that grow in Mediterranean countries) and lemon juice. It is salad with pizaaz, a must for the hot months. I, being me, of course made some small variations that should however not bother fattoush integralists too much. I am sure they will forgive me for using up some stale bread we brought back from the mountains instead of pita. Nobody likes waste, right? And they may even feel flattered that I dressed these croutons up with sumac's more glamorous cousin, Ms. Za'atar.

Instead of using sumac in the dressing I liberally brushed the bread with olive oil and za'atar and toasted it in the oven. And I sprinkled some more of it over the fattoush itself. Za'atar being a mix of sesame seeds (I toasted mine), sumac, salt, thyme and oregano (but there are as many variations as there are families making it I believe. Please correct me if I am wrong). To top it all off, I made a dressing with garlic-infused olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and a tablespoon of maple syrup (remember, no sugar these days). I would have used honey if it had been in a more liquid form.

1 red pepper
5 ripe San Marzano tomatoes
2 cucumbers
1 large bunch of Italian parsley
1 large bunch of mint
bread for croutons (preferably pita bread)
olive oil

Za'atar (a good amount for beginners)
1/4 cup sesame seeds (toasted if you like)
1/4 cup sumac
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp salt

Dressing (to taste)
Garlic infused olive oil (or you can use minced garlic for a stronger flavor)
lemon juice
lemon zest
about 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Chop the ingredients coarsley and mix. Slice the bread, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with za'atar on both sides and toast in a pre-heated oven on the grill setting at about 200°C. Keep a close eye on it because it burns quickly. Turn the bread over when it starts getting dark. When the bread cools, break into croutons. Toss fattoush with dressing and then with the croutons.


  1. So bright and beautiful! I love the flavors in Fattoush. One of summer's best salads. Have a great vacation, can't wait to see pictures!

  2. Wow this looks fantastic! New follower! xoxo

  3. This salad looks incredibly good! I never heard of it before, but I think I will soon try making some!! Irresistible!

  4. Delicious! One of my favorite salads ever, especially with purslane, which is the herb of choice for this salad

  5. Nicole - couldn't agree more. I will still be around a while, but can't wait to go!
    Kelly - hi! glad you enjoyed and happy you joined.
    Pola - Do and make it with pita bread if you have it, I think it is even better that way.
    ToB - I had read heard purslane but have no idea where to buy it. If I find it I will be sure to make this with it. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Oh I feel your pain! My treadmill broke so I've been struggling with winter foods and the like. This however looks divine! Love the colour and the crunch factor too!

  7. Fattoush is great: it is so tasty you feel very full and happy, as if you are not eating healthy food at all. aLthough I have to admit my favourite version is the one I get here from the kebab place, with crunchy fried pita bites.. A-hem. I love your version with za'atar.

  8. Wow! Ok, this is a MUST MAKE! I have never heard of this salad but something so beautiful needs to be in my life!

  9. Lorraine - what a tragedy!!
    LaCR - yes, that is doubtless the best way ever to eat it, but I had to get rid of that old bread and I am not allowed to eat fried food right now ;o)
    Care's K - yes, you must, so simple, so good, so healthy

  10. Beautiful salad. If one must detox, this is a painless way to do it! I love the sound of the zaatar croutons, how exotic!
    *kisses* HH

  11. I really need to get on the za-atar bandwagon. I hear it's an amazing spice blend - and this fattoush sounds amazing with it =)

  12. HH - yes, as painless as a detox can be, right dahling?
    Peggy - it was my first attempt at making za'atar and it was well worth it.

  13. he he he I am leaving for the US in just a couple of weeks and know I'll be eating everything in sight so have been desperately trying to lose a kilo or two but to no avail :-( We have been eating salads at every meal and it does call for some diversity and imagination. This fattoush looks fabulous and perfect! And I even have za'atar!

  14. Love love love this salad...and am fighting calories and food temptations all the time too. Painless detox is right up my street ... YUM salad!

  15. I love Middle Eastern cuisine! I had fattoush at a Lebanese restaurant a few years ago and I still cannot get it out of my mind. I will have to try this!!! Thanks so much!

  16. Tis looks amazing! I have always wondered how to make my own za'atar!

  17. Don't you mean to sprinkle the pita bread with za'atar and not sumac? Is this correct?


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