This is a blog about food journeys, a journal of the different ways a vegetarian like myself explores the culinary world.  What better way then to kick off this journey than with a salad that sounds so exotic, and yet is made with very familiar ingredients put together in a special and delicious way? Fattoush!

Fattoush is a mediterranean salad made with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and pieces of toasted pita bread.  In fact the word fattoush comes from the arabic word that means “crushed” or “crumbled”, and refers to the pita in the dish. It’s a key ingredient, as it soaks up the various flavors in the dressing as well as the vegetables.  Generous handfuls of chopped mint, flat leaf parsley and green onion give the salad a very fresh taste.  The dressing is a tangy mixture of lemon juice (lots of it!), olive oil, and garlic minced with salt.  The classic fattoush also needs sumac, a spice made from a mediterranean plant that has a lemony flavor. Crumbled feta cheese makes a nice addition to this salad.

Except for the sumac, none of the ingredients in fattoush are really very unusual. Yet this is a clear case where the dish is greater than the sum of its parts. The first time we made it we were surprised how well it turned out, and it was so good we made it again the next day 🙂  It’s very good just on its own, and a big serving makes a great lunch on a hot day. I think it’s important to cut up the veggies in rather smallish pieces, and also to mix in the dressing and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. This way the salad becomes more flavorful, almost a relish, really–plus the crumbled, dressing-soaked pita takes the dish to another level!