Tangy sumac adds bright flavor and baked pita chips add crunch to this traditional eastern Mediterranean salad.
SERVES 4 to 6 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Fattoush is an eastern Mediterranean salad that combines fresh produce and herbs, toasted pita bread, and bright, tangy sumac. Our goal was to balance the sweetly acidic flavor of sumac with the fresh vegetables, while also preventing the pita from becoming soggy. Sumac is a commonly used spice across the region and traditionally lends its citrusy punch to this salad. We opted to use an ample amount of sumac in the dressing to intensify the flavor, as well as use it as a garnish for the finished salad. Many recipes call for eliminating excess moisture from the salad by taking the time-consuming step of seeding and salting the cucumbers and tomatoes. We skipped these steps in order to preserve the crisp texture of the cucumber and the flavorful seeds and juice of the tomatoes. Instead, we made the pita pieces moisture-repellent by brushing their craggy sides with plenty of olive oil before baking them. The oil prevented the pita from absorbing moisture from the salad and becoming soggy while still allowing them to pick up flavor from the lemony dressing. The success of this recipe depends on ripe, in-season tomatoes.
2 (8-inch) pita breads
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons ground sumac, plus extra for sprinkling
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced ⅛ inch thick
1 cup arugula, chopped coarse
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped fresh mint
4 scallions, sliced thin
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Using kitchen shears, cut around perimeter of each pita and separate into 2 thin rounds. Cut each round in half. Place pitas smooth side down on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Brush 3 tablespoons oil on surface of pitas. (Pitas do not need to be uniformly coated. Oil will spread during baking.) Season with salt and pepper. Bake until pitas are crisp and pale golden brown, 10 to 14 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
2. Whisk lemon juice, sumac, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt together in small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining ¼ cup oil.
3. Break pitas into ½-inch pieces and place in large bowl. Add tomatoes, cucumber, arugula, cilantro, mint, and scallions. Drizzle dressing over salad and gently toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, sprinkling individual portions with extra sumac.