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Fattoush

It’s summer!  I know we haven’t hit the summer solstice yet, but Memorial Day is the informal start date to summer in my mental calendar.  Summer means lots of fresh vegetables and salads, salads, salads.  I love salads. When I look at my recipe box, the Salad section is nearly as thick as Sweets.  Certainly, it’s the most heavily used.

Panzanella, or simply “Bread Salad” as it’s known at my house, is always a favorite.  Croutons of rustic bread tossed with lots of savory ingredients and a tangy dressing make regular appearances.  I also make Fattoush, which uses crumbled toasted pita for the bread and has a Middle Eastern flavor profile.

Even when I already have a favorite recipe for something, I’m always open to a new twist.  This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays offers just that.  David Lebovitz’s version is similar to yet different from mine.

Similar are the chopped vegetables (cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and scallions) and the herbs (parsley and mint).  Different: he uses sliced radishes instead of the chopped red pepper in mine.  I like the radishes better.  Different: he adds a healthy dose of hearty lettuce, making his fattoush more like a green salad.  I tried it, but definitely prefer this salad without the lettuce.  We both use a lemony dressing and a tangy sprinkle of sumac.  David’s dressing with the additions of garlic and mustard has more zing than my simple lemon vinaigrette and is the clear winner.

Lettuce Plus Parsley and 3 kinds of garden-fresh mint!

Lettuce Plus Parsley and 3 kinds of garden-fresh mint!

Fattoush is in the First Courses chapter of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  The first night I made it, I was home alone.  I made the dressing in a jar instead of the salad bowl so I could use it for several smaller batches of this salad.  Dressed salads especially those made with crisp bread are not good keepers.  I cut up vegetables to make a quarter of the recipe, even though it serves 6.  With a little bit of cheese and crackers on the side, I found that the salad was substantial enough to count as dinner.  I made half the recipe another night which Howard and I shared along with a beet salad for our meal.

Colorful Vegetables!

This recipe was worth trying.  It was good, but it won’t displace my own favorite recipe.  However, I definitely plan to incorporate parts of his recipe (radishes, dressing) into mine as we move ahead into summer.

The highlight of my Memorial Day weekend was a short hike in nearby Concord Massachusetts to check out a blue heron rookery.  I occasionally catch one wading in the pond Bella and I walk around every morning.  And I love the prehistoric look of herons flying overhead.  They remind me of pterodactyls.  When my neighbor (hi, Cass!) told me where to find the rookery, I channeled my inner Mary (Hirsch), had Howard find the binoculars, and we went for a ride.

Heron Rookery

Observing their high nests on top of dead or dying trees in a marsh, I was surprised to see both parents tending one or two babies in each nest.  There were 6-8 nests in all.  The babies seemed to be getting ready to fly.  We saw a couple of them perched on the edge of the nest where it looked like they were working up the courage to step off and test their wings.  This week, I expect they have already flown off.  I wish them safe travels.

Back to the food, if you want to try fattoush for yourself, you can find the recipe on page 116 of My Paris Kitchen.  To see what my friends thought of their salads, check their links here.

Cook the Book Fridays was formed by bloggers who met through French Fridays with Dorie, have remained friends, and enjoy cooking together (virtually anyway).  Others have joined us in this new adventure cooking through another French cookbook, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.  You can too!

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Posted on 3 June 2016, in Cook The Book Fridays, my paris kitchen and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. We call the Victoria Day weekend the unofficial start of summer here (last weekend). It’s also the height of salad season – lettuces and radishes are so good right now. I am using the same strategy as you – making a jar of dressing separately and using it up salad by salad. I’m cheating and using za’atar on mine.

    • Memorial Day was last weekend, so Victoria Day and Memorial Day overlapped this year. I don’t know whether they always do.
      Not much lettuce here yet, but I just picked up radishes and other greens with my first CSA share of the season. Za’atar is a great substitution. You’ve got the sumac and then the extra boost of thyme and sesame. Great idea!
      Have a great weekend!

      • Victoria Day is always the weekend before Memorial Day – I’m always sad that they DON’T overlap so I can visit friends in the US who also have a 3 day weekend! This was the PERFECT “start of summer” salad!! (and finally our weather is cooperating!)

  2. peggygilbey814628432

    Hi Betsy, love your salad, and overview. The Blue Heron Rockery sounds like a serious nature destination and a great place to channel your inner Mary (Hirsch.) Happy Salad Prepping as it thrives in your locale and Happy Summer to you and Howard.

  3. Yes, the salad season has started in my house too with the fresh supply of greens and herbs. Nice comparison between your go-to salad and the fattoush. Agree with you that the dressing is a winner, but with the right dosage.

  4. Betsy, great idea to mix the dressing in a jar. I wish I had separated the dressing as I had left over salad and it was a little too soggy to enjoy. I loved your picture of the rookery, i always pass one on route 2 in acton- but never see any birds. I am glad you got to see the baby herons. They do look like pterodactyls!! Ha ha

  5. Sounds like a great way to use fresh veges.

  6. Interesting thought to use this without the lettuce!! I am a big lettuce lover so I would never think of that, but it would be a nice change. The picture and story of the rookery was great- I love going by the rookery on Rte 2 but there does not seem to be much activity there. They do look like pterodactyls ;)

  7. Oooh, yes: herons do look so prehistoric flying overhead. Like proto-pteranodons! That’s great that you got some tips to carryover into your favorite fattoush recipe. I liked the radishes a lot in the salad, though I can see how people who don’t like them would pass. The dressing was good, too, when there’s not too much of it. :)

  8. I liked everything about this salad, even the mint. I was going to eliminate it because
    I don’t care for the flavor, but I’m happy I didn’t.

  9. My grandmother never used radishes or any kind of pepper…red or otherwise. However, her salad always had lettuce and lots of tomatoes, mint, parsley and green onions. I love the fresh taste of the lemon dressing, I even like that David gave it a French twist with the Dijon mustard. All and all a really terrific salad. Yours looks mouthwatering.
    I love your photo of the nests at the top of those dead trees. Fascinating! Sounds like a great place to walk.

  10. I also wish I lived nearer, Betsy, so we could not only cook together but have adventures together. Visiting the Concord Cemetery and seeing the graves of some beloved authors was one of the top, top highlights of my East Coast trip last Fall. Great Blues are monogamous and both the male and female build the nest or re-build old ones. The male does the framing, so to speak, and the female makes it homey and safe for babies. The catch is that they stay together for the year but then most find new mates for the next year. Wouldn’t you know? I had never made Fattoush before and I really liked it. Unfortunately I dressed the entire salad and could not eat the soggy leftovers. Lesson learned.

  11. Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years

    What a fun adventure! There is so much wild nature here and I always get so excited when I see it. Growing up in NYC we were lucky to see squirrels and birds, and maybe an odd raccoon or opossum. My husband always thinks I am crazy because I get so excited because he grew up in Virginia where wild animals are more frequently seen. Oh well. I enjoy it and no one can stop me from doing so!

  12. I love lettuce but like you, I prefer Fattoush without it. But this is a wonderful salad indeed!

  13. The blue heron rookery is cool indeed. It’s funny to picture those long-legged waders high up in trees instead of in the water! And you make three who already knew fattoush. I really do not know my Middle East cuisine. I’ll try red pepper next time.

  14. This Fattoush with the lettuce went down well at my place. Interesting post!

  15. Wendy Kessler

    How about giving us YOUR recipe, Betsy (for those of us who don’t have the book!)?!

  16. Interesting comparison to your “standard” fattoush. It sounds like you will be combining the best of the two going forward! I will definitely be making the dressing again.

  17. Kitchen Conundrum

    What an interesting idea to have the Fattoush without lettcue. I am curious about your recipe. Sounds very much like an Israeli salad with bread croutons which would be a good variation. I do love this dressing too.

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