Sometimes recipes take you by surprise; you think they’re going to taste one way, they wind up tasting another way and you wind up liking that other way better.
With the fattoush recipe from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, I was expecting crispy pieces of pita bread tossed with pretty typical Israeli salad vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.), yogurt, olive oil and lemon juice. Instead, you use naan (or stale Turkish flatbread, if you can find that) and don’t toast it at all. You toss that with a yogurt mixture before making the salad and what happens next is so special, I’m not going to describe it in this paragraph. You’ll just have to click ahead (unless you came to this post directly, in which case this moment is…awkward.)
See, here’s what I’m talking about. There, in the bowl, is torn-apart naan and on top a big heaping mound of yogurt that’s been thinned with a little milk (and allowed to sit for a bit so it sours). Also, I added the garlic directly to the yogurt so it would take on some of the garlic flavor, a bit like what happens with Tzaziki.
Now you toss that together and the bread magically transforms. It gets so saturated with the yogurt it becomes almost like cheese. That’s how Craig and I both described it upon eating the salad. If that sounds weird, don’t worry, it’s all broken up by beautiful vegetables: tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, green onions, and mint.
You add those to the bowl with the yogurt-saturated naan pieces and toss that all together; then things get even better with olive oil, white wine vinegar, and lemon juice.
It’s a salad that comes together in stages and, if you’re me, you’ll be tasting all the while. By the time you get here, you’ll want to adjust with vinegar, salt, pepper, etc. Then you spoon the salad into bowls and sprinkle with sumac, as Ottolenghi suggests, or do what I did and just sprinkle everything with za’atar because that has sumac in it anyway.
What results is a surprisingly hearty salad. Those yogurt-saturated pieces of naan fill you up in a way normal croutons never will. Plus, yogurt is kinda healthy, and then all those vegetables? It’s a healthy dinner that doesn’t feel like a healthy dinner which is my kind of healthy dinner. So shake that fat tush and make a fattoush: it’ll be a fat tush no longer.
Summary: Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem.
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup whole milk (actually, I misread the recipe and only used 2 Tablespoons of whole milk, which is probably why the bread component was so cheese-like; play around and see what you like)
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (to the point that they’re basically minced; use your knife to finish up the job)
- 2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan
- 3 large tomatoes, cut into 2/3-inch dice (or use cherry tomatoes cut in half; about 1 carton)
- 6 radishes, thinly sliced
- 3 mini cucumbers or 1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped into 2/3-inch dice
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 6 leaves fresh mint, shredded
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Black pepper
- Sumac or Za’atar for sprinkling
- Start by mixing the yogurt and milk together and, if you have the time, let them sit for a few hours in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface (it creates a kind of homemade buttermilk; you could always use an equal amount of buttermilk and skip this step). Or just mix them and proceed like I did and all will be well. Also, add the garlic to infuse the yogurt with the garlic flavor.
- Now tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the yogurt mixture followed by the rest of the ingredients, tossing well and tasting to adjust for olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, etc.
- Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with sumac or za’atar before serving.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4