The Italians have panzanella, a bread salad that uses in-season tomatoes and past-its-prime leftover bread. There’s another fresh twist on that salad, fattoush, that comes from traditional Middle Eastern cuisine, and it’s gaining traction with consumers. The dish originated in Northern Lebanon, where farmers would fry leftover pita scraps in olive oil for extra flavor and add the pita chips to whatever vegetables were on hand.
While there are as many versions of fattoush as there are chefs, it often features fried or toasted flatbread pieces and fresh vegetables like cucumbers, radishes and tomatoes, all topped with a sprinkle of minced herbs.
What chefs are doing
The salad is growing in consumer awareness and popularity. There’s even a London-based restaurant called What the Fattoush?, run by Jessica Howe and Megan Maule. They say they take their inspiration from the unpretentious yet richly flavored dishes shared around Palestinian dinner tables every night.
Closer to home, Persian-concept Rumi’s Kitchen in Atlanta serves fattoush salad with heirloom tomato, herbs, romaine heart, toasted flatbread and buttermilk dressing. An elegant version is served by Los Angeles’ Lucques, home of James Beard award-winning chef Suzanne Goin. One of its most popular dishes is roasted chicken fattoush salad with root vegetables, mint, feta, crispy pita and sumac.
Best of all, fattoush is not just a delicious dish, it’s also an opportunity to reduce food waste by giving that day-old pita a second chance to delight your diners.
Fattoush salad video from The Mediterranean Dish