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Fattoush (from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem)

I made this and the flavor was terrific but I didn't like the soggy pieces of pita at all (although others did). Is this how it's meant to be?

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  1. I like my fattoush bread to be a mix of soggy and crunchy in the same piece. To achieve that I use breads that are thick enough to stand up to a bit of moisture, I get them crispy and dry in the oven first and I don't let the fattoush stand more than 10 mins before serving.
    When I lived in Australia pita bread was too thin so I used Turkish pide bread for this recipe. I'm not sure of the thickness of pita bread where you live but perhaps trying a different bread may help.

    1. I'm with Frizzle in that I like bits of soggy and crunchy in the same piece. There is a place near my office that makes a fair enough fattoush and they just use small croutons (packaged, all the same size) which while not the most impressive in taste actually do the best in uniformly achieving the texture mix.

      I'm not familiar with the Ottolenghi's recipe - but I have found that the pita that holds up the best are fried. Deep fried or pan fried. Beyond that, definitely do not mix the pita chips in early - and if the salad will be standing for a while (at a picnic) - you may have the pita chips on the side or sprinkle on top like a crouton.

      1. My preference is to use pita chips.

        1. In January of this year, Ottolenghi's "Jerusalem" was Cookbook of the Month and a number of people made the fattoush. Here's a link to a few reports on that dish: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8843...

          You'll see that a couple of people chose to toast the bread to give it some crunch, although Ottolenghi says specifically in his headnote that Sami's mother didn't used to fry her bread and that made the dish "terribly comforting." I haven't made that recipe, but I did make the one on the following page, the Baby Spinach Salad with Dates & Almonds. In that recipe he calls for the pita to be fried and I found that the pita remained delightfully crunchy until the salad had been eaten.

          You asked if soggy pita was how it was meant to be and the answer is yes. But if you don't care for it that way, simply toast or fry your pita according to the directions on the following page and toss the pita pieces into the salad before serving rather than along with the dressing and the rest of the ingredients.

          1. I have a different question about this recipe, which is whether home-soured milk (milk + lemon) can be used instead of buttermilk? I use this sub for baking but I've never tried it in a dressing. The home-soured milk is a bit clumpy, which deters me, but I hate to buy yet another whole container of buttermilk that is mostly destined to go bad.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Westminstress

              What the recipe actually calls for is a scant cup of Greek yogurt whisked with 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of milk and set aside for at least three hours or up to a day in advance until bubbles form on the surface. Buttermilk is a more sour alternative.

            2. The ideal pita chips will soak up a little of the dressing but still be crunchy. Stale or toasted pita will work well for this. Just add them last to the salad before tossing.

              1. Thanks all, very insightful. I will make it again, next time with toasted or fried pita - added at the end!

                1. The Fattoush I get at the Egyptian store near my home is more like a flat croissant. layers and layers of dough with butter between them. Doesn't sound much like Ottolenghi's Fattoush, but it surely is divine.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ChefJune

                    That's rather odd since by definition fattoush is a bread salad, not just the bread itself. Sure sounds good, though.

                    1. re: JoanN

                      I believe originally the recipe for Fattoush called for stale bread plus a myriad of seasonal vegetables and herbs...

                  2. OK, so I made it again, this time frying the bread first and then adding it at the very end. Problem with this is that there was way too much buttermilk and the vegetables were drowning in it because there wasn't the untoasted bread to soak it all up first. So I guess if one's going to do this, then much less buttermilk is needed, maybe just 1/4 cup instead of the almost 2 cups in the original recipe.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kevinm

                      There's buttermilk added to this recipe? Wow - well it's clearly not a traditional fattoush in that sense, but I'd be curious to know how they use a buttermilk dressing.

                      The standard dressing is just olive oil, lemon juice, some salt, and often sumac.

                      1. re: cresyd

                        It's a family recipe from co-author Sami Tamimi's mother. You can see it here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                        The Serious Eats author also thought there was too much dressing, a common complaint, as lilham says. Easy solution is don't make/use it all, I'd say.

                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                          I get that it's a family recipe - but that's different from how most Jerusalem restaurants (especially Palestinian Jerusalem restaurants) would dress the dish.

                      2. re: kevinm

                        When we did this in COTM a lot of people reported they didn't use the full amount of dressing. I usually make 1/2 of what specified.

                      3. I am waiting for until our tomatoes are ripe. We had a great Fattoush it Byblos in Toledo last night. The pita was crisp. We are traveling and I purposely routed us to go there. It is worth knowing if one is going to be in Toledo.

                        1. Dunno how that's how its intended but, if it is, it's a change I would make, as I reckon pitta should be crispy in fattoush. Certainly a last minute addition to the salad to keep it so.