Fattoush, or Lebanese Bread Salad, can be a one-dish meal, or a fresh addition to a meal of Middle Eastern leftovers.
I don't care much for salad, preferring to get to the heart of the meal. In fact, I often enjoy a salad after dinner, or alongside the main course.
This Lebanese salad was just the right thing to go with the Middle Eastern eggplant dish I'd prepared the day before. (Look for that one next week.) Plus it's a perfect way to get rid of stale pita bread, or to resuscitate that package you optimistically tossed in the freezer.
Alternately, you could make the salad minus the pita, and serve the salad inside a pita pocket. Same effect, but of course it's no longer a bread salad then.
Fattoush (Lebanese Bread Salad)
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon tahini
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or less—you be the judge)
2 pita breads
1/2 English cucumber, seeded, and chopped
1 tomato, chopped (optional, if you can't stand tomatoes)
1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1 cup chickpeas
1/3 cup minced parsley
1/3 cup mint, chopped
lettuce leaves (romaine, butter lettuce, red leaf, etc.)
Toast the pita bread in a 350 degree oven, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: Whisk garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cayenne until smooth.
In a large bowl, mix cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, red onion, chickpeas, parsley, and mint.
Tear the pita bread into bite-sized pieces and add to the bowl. Pour the dressing over all and toss, adding more oil and lemon juice if necessary to coat all the ingredients.
Place large lettuce leaves on a plate, and mound the salad on top.
Note on ingredients: I used an English cucumber because that's all that's available here. Regular, unwaxed cukes work just as well, or peel the waxed ones. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are available canned or dried. If you use the dried, you must of course cook them first. If you use canned, then drain and rinse them.