I was pondering the question recently of whether salad should still be listed under ‘salad’ on menus or whether it should in fact be just food. A lot of salads are really food in disguise; their leaves merely a token base on which to put mayonnaise-soaked chicken, nuts, croutons, noodles, grains and various other ingredients. However, in marketing perception is all and if the heading ‘Salads’ were taken off menus and the salad things were instead put under ‘Main Meals’, then their would be fewer sales of salads, ertsaz or real. Certainly the women (for it is mainly women) who feel they are destined to eat nothing but salad, would not order a salad by any other name.
This train of thought leads us kind of haphazardly to Fattoush, that Lebanese classic salad which involves the intrusion of a carbohydrate in the form of bread. Fattoush is still a salad though, the bread simply adds texture, a crisp and also carries sumac nicely too. Now as this is technically a peasant salad you should go into your garden and pick those radiant tomatoes and shiny cucumbers which of course you don’t have. Start with those Lebanese staples: tomato and cucumber, mint and spring onion. I love radish and right now they’re gorgeous, so they’ll go in plus some fennel. And then a lettuce. No need to get too exotic but a Romaine is nice or a Cos if you want to push the boat out. Then toasted bread. You can get all Barefoot Contessa about this and cut everything into neat triangles and brush it with olive oil before putting it in the oven and smiling at your pretty toasties. Or you can decide life is too short and open up the pita so it’s single rather than double, drizzle olive oil on it, sprinkle with sumac and then throw it in the oven. When it’s toasted just break it up.
I dress my Fattoush as my mother did, with olive oil and lemon. No vinegar here please. Lots of salt and lots of sumac. It makes it. And it’s good for your fingers. Really.