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Meaning moistened or crumbled bread in Arabic, fattoush is a Lebanese salad served with toasted pita bread. A healthy meal, fattoush includes a simple, usually homemade, oil-based salad dressing and a variety of chopped vegetables. This salad is said to be a particularly good dish for hot weather months.
Although fattoush is traditionally made with pita bread, it may be made with other types of bread as well. French, white, and Italian bread are all options. No matter the type of bread, it should always be cut into bite sized pieces and toasted. Once cut, pita pieces are usually placed on a cookie sheet and allowed to bake in the oven until crispy. They may be first brushed with olive oil to help prevent burning.
Romaine lettuce is most often used in fattoush. Iceberg lettuce may also be used, however. Additionally, fresh spinach leaves can be combined with the lettuce for more green vegetable variety or can be used in place of lettuce.
Tomatoes, green peppers, and cucumbers are a staple for this salad. Parsley and mint leaves are also usually added. Almost any vegetable can be placed in fattoush, but green or red onions and scallions are the most frequent additions. Olives, chickpeas, and radishes also may be included.
The dressing may be made simply by combining extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Often, however, the dressing includes sumac, a sour middle eastern spice made from berries. Sumac is often difficult to find in groceries stores but can usually be found online and in specialty stores. If sumac is unavailable, garlic may be added to the dressing instead. Some recipes may add both garlic and sumac to the dressing.
Although it is occasionally heated during preparation, the dressing is usually mixed without heat. The ingredients are poured together in a bowl and stirred or whisked together. Salt and pepper, to taste, are also often included.
To make fattoush, the vegetables are first chopped while the bread toasts. Also, the parsley and mint leaves should be removed from the stems. Then the bread and chopped vegetables are combined in a serving bowl and tossed with the prepared dressing.
Some non-traditional recipes suggest serving the fattoush immediately, but the completed salad is usually allowed to sit between 15 minutes and one hour to allow the dressing to soak into the bread. It does not need to be refrigerated during this time. The dressing should be applied liberally, since it is designed to soak the bread.
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