Fattoush is another one of those Middle Eastern salads can be as simple or as complex as you like. It is ubiquitous throughout the region, including Turkey. While it can contain different ingredients, the base is always stale toasted or fried bread.
The word Fattoush comes from a mix of Arabic (fatt فت – meaning “broken”) and Turkish (ush).
The chief ingredients are generally tomatoes, cucumber, onions, parsley, mint, olive oil, and lemon. Other ingredients can be radishes, lettuce, cabbage, bell peppers, pickled chiles, olives, sumac, garlic, and pomegranate syrup.
A few notes:
1. While I have given some measurements here, there are no hard and fast rules other than the bread.
2. English (hothouse) or Persian cucumbers are preferable. They have less water, fewer seeds, and don’t need to be peeled. If you need to use the more familiar salad cucumber, then you will need to peel it (the skin is tough and usually waxed) and scoop out the seeds.
3. If you use large tomatoes, be sure to seed them. If you use cherry tomatoes, don’t bother with seeding. Just cut them in half.
4. Curly parsley is more traditional. However, flat leaf (Italian) is fine.
5. If you use garlic, use less than you think you need. Raw garlic is powerful stuff and can easily take over the rest of the salad.
6. You don’t need to cut the vegetables fine. They can simply be chopped.
2 loaves pita bread, preferably day-old
1 cucumber, preferably hothouse (English) -or- 2-3 Persian cucumbers, cut into large dice or sliced roughly 1/4″ thick
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped -or- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 2 lemons, or to taste
1/4 – 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Prepare the bread: If you are toasting the bread, preheat the oven to 450F. Split the loaves around the outside edge.
Don’t worry if the loaves aren’t split cleanly. You’ll be breaking them up after they’ve been toasted.
Place the split bread directly on the oven rack and let toast until it is a golden brown. Try not to let the bread get too dark or will add a bitter flavor to the finished salad. It should take about 2 – 3 minutes for the bread to toast.
Let the bread cool and then break it up into bite-sized pieces. I generally like to accomplish this by putting the bread into a large zip bag and breaking it up. No mess and the bag can be re-used.
If you decide to fry the bread, heat your oil to 375F. A mix of vegetable and olive oil works well for the flavor. (use pure olive oil, not extra virgin.) Cut the bread into bite-sized pieces and separate them. Fry the bread in batches until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
2. Place all of the prepared vegetables in a large bowl. Add the bread and toss. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss again. Taste for seasoning.
Let the salad sit for about 15 minutes, then serve.
The salad will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator, but it’s really best the day it’s made.