Green Fattoush Salad with Mint Vinaigrette

IMAG0523This weekend in Chicago it’s in the 90’s and humid. It’s also the annual Air and Water Show so the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time slaving over a hot stove. I was at the farmers’ market and they had gorgeous fresh mint and arugula which reminded me of this wonderful green salad – full of flavors and incredibly satisfying. If you wish to make it for vegans just leave out the feta cheese. For the rest of us – buy a full-fat feta. It won’t kill you since the amount you will have is small and taste is, frankly, so much better. You can use either a sheep’s milk or goat’s milk feta for this dish. Just make sure that all of your greens are very fresh and bright. If you can’t smell the freshness please don’t buy them. Fattoush is essentially a Middle Eastern Panzanella. Since it physically hurts me to throw away bread – possibly because I love to bake bread and know what goes into making it – this is a wonderful way to use up left-over pita or lavash.

Green Fattoush Salad with Mint Vinaigrette adapted from Einat Admony

Yields: 4 generous servings

Ingredients:

1 large English (seedless) cucumber or 3 small Persian cucumbers, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds or 1/2 moons

1 ripe avocado, peeled,seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

2/3 cup roughly torn fresh mint (spearmint – not peppermint) plus about 10-12 additional leaves for the vinaigrette

2/3 cup roughly chopped or torn flat-leaf parsley

3 cups torn arugula

2 cups torn watercress (Really try to find watercress for this recipe. If you absolutely can’t, just use more arugula.)

3/4 cup crumbled feta (do not buy crumbled feta – buy the chunk and crumble it yourself)

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey (I love Greek honey, but any good quality honey will do)

Kosher salt, to taste but about 1/2 teaspoon. It will partly depend on how salty your feta cheese is.

1 large clove garlic, chopped

1.2 cup EVOO (If you have a good quality lemon enhanced EVOO you can use that. Personally I can never get enough lemon.)

About 1 cup of toasted pita chips or lavash (You can make your own or buy store bought)

1/4 teaspoon sumac (optional) If you choose to buy sumac (and you can get it at Middle Eastern markets or online at Nuts.com you will find lots of uses for it, especially in Mediterranean cooking. It looks a bit like paprika, but it has a wonderful fruity, citrusy flavor and goes great with chicken.)

Directions:

  1. In a large salad bowl, toss everything that is green together. This can be done ahead and covered with a damp towel. If left in a cool room, it can be left out for several hours. If you have room in your fridge, you can store it there in a plastic bag. (DO NOT ADD avocado if making ahead. Only add it when ready to eat along with the feta.)
  2. If using feta cheese, add it when you are ready to serve  the salad.
  3. Make mint vinaigrette: In a blender, puree the mint leaves that you set aside earlier with the lemon juice, mustard, honey, salt and garlic until smooth. With the blender running, slowly drizzle in the EVOO and process until emulsified.
  4. Toss salad with just enough vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. (Save any left-over dressing in a glass jar in the fridge for use within 2 days.) Toss in the toasted pita or lavash. If using sumac, sprinkle it over the top.
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