About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Fattoush


Oh man, I was hanging out.

A week or so ago, there was baba ganoush, closely followed with tabouli - not the version where burghul (cracked wheat) dominates, but the parsley salad favoured by those of Lebanese extraction, where burghul is just a hint, not a highlight.

Of course, there was plenty of flatbread to scoop up the garlicky, smoky eggplant paste, which inevitably meant left-over bread, which took to loafing about our bread basket, until I recalled a recipe that would bring gainful employment to the idle flatbread. A recipe based on stale flatbread being given a makeover into a beautiful new tastier life. One that I hadn't made in many years, but suddenly wanted.

Stale bread dishes abound in old cookbooks, a relic of a time when thrift was paramount and every crumb had to be put to use. Every cuisine has a way of putting to good use leftover bread, whether in sweet or savoury fashion, Mexicans have tortilla soup, Spanish and Portuguese migas, the English, bread and butter pudding as well as summer pudding. Eastern Europeans turn old rye bread into kvas, which is the soured base for a variety of soups and also a drink. The French use stale bread to make panade, which is a binding agent used in certain recipes.

The Middle East is no exception, with a wonderfully, healthy Levantine salad called fattoush, not all that dissimilar to the Italian panzanella, whereby pita bread is either toasted or fried and mixed with a melange of whatever vegetables are to hand, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice and spiced with citrussy sumac.

Fattoush
(serves 4)

1 regular stale pita bread, split in two
3 Lebanese cucumbers
4 vine ripened tomatoes
1 green pepper
2 or 3 spring (green) onions
bunch parsley, leaves picked from stalks
juice 1 lemon
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste
1/2 teaspoon sumac
salt & fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 200c and place split pita bread on oven racks with the insides facing up and toast until golden brown, about 10 minutes, remove and cool. Peel alternating strips of skin off the cucumbers, making a pattern, cut each one in half and remove the seeds. Cut each half in two, then into chunks. Cut tomatoes into similar size chunks as the cucumber, dice the green pepper into 1cm chunks. Thinly slice the spring onions, including some of the green. Finely chop the parsley then tip all the vegetables into a large bowl and crumble the toasted pitta bread into the bowl and mix together. Measure the lemon juice and combine with an equal or slightly greater measure of olive oil, add the garlic and season with sumac, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad, mix well, leave for five minutes, check seasoning, mix well again and serve.

Note: I didn't have sumac to hand, the salad won't suffer if you don't use it. I also used more olive oil than lemon juice.
 
  posted at 12:13 pm
  9 comments



9 Comments:
At 4:02 pm, Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Instead of sumac, you can use a bit of fresh oregano -- but even without, fattoush is absolutely wonderful, and remains one of my favorite salads.

 
At 4:08 pm, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Oh lovely Neil. Now I'm longing for fattoush again

 
At 4:28 pm, Blogger Ran said...

my dad used to deep fry leb bread for this. bad bad!

i like lots of lemon but i like lemon in everything

 
At 6:41 pm, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

I cut up the bread into segments, toast it with oil and zataar with sesame and pile it high on a plate for parties. It disappears in seconds and is far cheaper and more nutritious than party junk food like chips which I refuse to buy, food-snob that I am!

 
At 11:19 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

Mmm, I love fattoush - and panzanella! Long live stale bread.

As for the stale bread "loafing" around your bread bin - you crack me up :D

 
At 3:24 pm, Blogger 天然パーマンTENNEN PARMAN [from Japan] said...

Hi, I am Tennen-Perman,E-mail from Japan.
I visited your site sometimes so far.
You have a cool site.
I linked your site in my blog.
I administer a blog talking about cooking.
Please link to my site in your ones if you like it.

http://impact-cook.blogspot.com/

thank you!

 
At 3:46 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi lidia, great tip and to think I've got a great big pot of it and didn't think to use any!

Hi tanna, I'm sure your season will still allow a good one. I know that longing feeling too...

Hi ran, there's no such thing as a bad dad, especially if he's cooking!!! I probably would never fry the bread all the same, it's just too easy to bake it in the oven, but I'd guess fried bread would stay crispy a little longer in the salad.

Hi kitchen hand, now that's a great idea, even after we had the baba and fattoush there was still bread left over. I'll have a crack at that.

Hi jeanne, I was wondering when someone was going to pick me up on that, isn't it sad that I get fun from word plays.

Hi tennan, thanks for having a look, I'm going to check you out.

 
At 8:54 pm, Blogger Gabriel said...

Very nice blog. I am from Slovakia republic. I have also a blog focused on recipes for cooking. See. You need to translate the Google translate

 
At 10:00 am, Blogger Squishy said...

Missing you! Where did you go?

 

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