By Angela Denstad Stigeler
This is the time of year when gardeners can really begin feasting off their labors, when most of a meal can be garnered from the yield of their own land. Something like this Middle Eastern salad, but for a little bread, oil and a lemon, could all be had from a garden near you! In fact, this is the sort of dish that really is at its best with just-picked produce and garden-fresh herbs. And though it’s a little more labor-intensive than just tossing together some ingredients in a bowl, the perfect blend of flavors and textures will convince you that this dish is one of summer’s great treats. A big bowlful of fattoush, culled from homegrown produce, is a gardener’s just desert. So if you’ve gone to the work of growing your own summer salad ingredients, go ahead and sit back now and live off the fattoush of the land.
Pita Bread Salad (Fattoush)
2 (8-inch) pita breads
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Zest from half a lemon
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced to paste
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, or two smaller cucumbers, peeled
1 pound tomatoes, cored and cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 cup salad greens, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
½ cup chopped fresh mint
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use kitchen shears to cut around the perimeter of the pita breads, separating them into two thin discs. Place them smooth-side down and brush the tops with about 3 tablespoons of the oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake the pitas directly on the oven rack, or on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet, until crisp and pale golden, 10-15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, mash the garlic and salt into a paste in a large serving bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice and let stand about 10 minutes, then whisk in the remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a steady stream. Slice and add the scallions, cucumber, diced tomatoes, salad greens and herbs to the lemon mixture. Stir everything together until the vegetables are thoroughly coated with the dressing. Break the cooled pitas into bite-sized pieces over the salad and toss together. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste and serve right away.
Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen