“Fattoush” from “Happy Salads”

IMG_9332Fattoush is delicious. It’s like the Arab version of the Italian bread salad– Panzanella for those keeping score at home– but it’s got its own twist, in this case, by using radishes with sumac and pita, rather than olive oil and stale Italian bread.

I’ve made fattoush before, mostly using the recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s seminal cookbook, “Jerusalem.” His version differs in that you make a buttermilk dressing to soak the bread in before assembling the salad.

The thing I liked about this version was it seemed slightly more straightforward and requiring fewer ingredients than the “Jerusalem” version, but I just went back and compared the two and the “Happy Salads” version actually has two more ingredients. So I’m not sure why I have that impression, but I do.

Both recipes have you do a bit of a faff about bread. In “Jerusalem” you soak the bread in buttermilk for a few hours. In “Happy Salads,” you toast the pita bread and then fry it in olive oil and dust it with sumac. In the interest of full disclosure, I did not fry it; I only toasted it and then sprinkled some sumac over the salad.

Both versions are delicious. I like them both in different ways, so I’ll call it a tie. The next time I make fattoush, the version I use will probably come down to which cookbook I find first.

Highly recommended.

“Fattoush” from “Happy Salads”

“Spring Fattoush Salad” from “It’s All Easy”

Kirstin: Tom was working from home last week so I thought I should make him a special lunch one day. So I made this. Bloody easy, very yummy, and yes, yes, yes. I would definitely make it again. The flat bread totally made this recipe. I left it at the bottom of the salad so it could soak up some of the dressing. I also added a couple of 7 minute eggs as the protein along with the feta cheese. Perfect.

“Spring Fattoush Salad” from “It’s All Easy”

“Fattoush” and “Open Kibbeh” from “Jerusalem”

CBAMFattoush

This night featured two more winners from “Jerusalem.”

The first, on the top, is fattoush. It’s like a Middle Eastern version of panzanella, just with radishes and sumac, and pita bread rather than Italian bread. It’s a great salad to eat on a warm summer day, but given the liveliness of the sumac and the other vegetables, it also would be good in the dead of winter. A note of caution, though: this delicious salad takes A LOT of chopping to achieve. So before embarking on this, I’d recommend that you set aside some time to get all the vegetable prep finished.

You might think that sumac is hard to find, but in fact, they had it at my local Waitrose. Again, thank you Ottolenghi! However, I assumed that I needed some and so bought another jar of it, only to discover when I got home that I already had some. But after a month of cooking from this book, we’re almost finished with the first jar, so I’m guessing we’ll use the next one within the next couple of months.

The second, on the bottom, is open kibbeh. It’s a warming combination of minced lamb, bulger wheat and a wide variety of spices, with a tahini sauce on the top. It’s not really a combination I would think would work, but work it does. I think it’s the variety of flavours, brought to the party by the spices, that really make this something special. As a bonus, it’s not too much trouble to make. There are multiple steps, but it’s all very manageable.

All in all, another good night of eating from “Jerusalem.”

To make the fattoush, click through on this sentence to go to the recipe on the Telegraph website.

To make the Open Kibbeh, click through on this sentence to go to the recipe on the Guardian website.

“Fattoush” and “Open Kibbeh” from “Jerusalem”

“Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: More chicken tonight, but without the French accent as I’m back in London.  Instead we’re working a Middle Eastern vibe.  Za’atar is a mixture of dried thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.  It looks a bit like the stuff you might sweep up from your garden patio but tastes very nice.  It gives a real fragrant earthiness.  It’s pretty hard to get hold of — I found this jar in a mad food collective in Elephant and Castle that Katrin took me to.  What did you think of the za’atar?

Peter: It tasted very Middle Eastern. 

Anna: Why?

Peter: Because of the sesame seeds.  And with the salad it reminded me a bit of the Zuni salad.  Chicken, bread and salad.  Though obviously not Californian.  The whole thing was really summery.  It would probably work stuffed in a pita bread.

Anna: But it’s got pita bread in it.

Peter: Yes, but if it didn’t you could turn it into a Middle Eastern snack-on-the-fly.

Anna: The best thing about this recipe is that it’s easy.  In fact, everything so far in this book has been easy, or maybe I’m still comparing to Faff-Olenghi.  Hurrah for Nigella!  Another success.  Avec le poulet.

“Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush” from “Forever Summer”