It's easy to make a pretty basic salad with lettuces and summer tomatoes this time of year. Produce is at the height of freshness and if you're using sweet, juicy tomatoes they often need very little dressing. But when you find yourself inspired to go beyond basic greens, fattoush is a fresh, filling salad that celebrates summer tomatoes like no other.
If you're not familiar with fattoush, it's traditionally a Lebanese bread salad made with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, and bits of toasty bread or pita. It's dressed with a bright olive oil and lemon juice dressing, and dusted with that glorious Middle Eastern spice, sumac. There is a cafe called Insalata's in Marin County, where both of my parents live, that makes a pretty dreamy fattoush salad; this time of year I become homesick for it. Whenever I visit my mom, it's still our special occasion lunch. If there's anything worth celebrating, fattoush is in order.
The version at Insalata's has the perfect amount of dressing (too often they can become a bit soggy and the pita gets weighed down with the oil) and has a bold snappiness from the citrus. So when I make a version at home, I follow their lead with lots of citrus, homemade pita, and more ripe tomatoes than seem to make sense on first glance. These late summer months can be really hot for many of us, so having another substantial salad in the repertoire is always a good thing: no oven time, filling, and beautiful to look at.
Have you tried fattoush salad or have a favorite recipe for it?
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(Images: Kalyn's Kitchen)