Thursday, September 16, 2004
TOMATO-CUCUMBER SALAD WITH HERBS AND TOASTED PITA (FATTOUSH)
I made this on Tuesday night as part of PitaFest 2004 (with Pita Crisps and Mom’s Hummus). I make it a lot, actually, because it is delicious. And I say this as a non-salad fan. I have eaten it as a main dish on many hot summer days, but it might also work well for you as a side dish to some kind of appropriate meat. Or, you know, with the hummus. Anyway, it’s easy, it’s good for you, it’s fattoush.
1 large cucumber
2 7-inch pita rounds (the kind with pockets)
4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
6 scallions, including some of the greens, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped mint
¼ cup olive oil
juice of one large lemon
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1. Peel, seed, and dice the cucumber and put it in a colander, toss with ½ teaspoon salt, and set aside to drain. The salt is supposed to draw the moisture out of the cucumber. (I’m always on the verge of skipping this step, because (a) I’m not convinced it really does anything; and (b) the salad is pretty liquidy already, so what’s a little more cucumber water? But I go through with it anyway.)
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, slice the pitas in half crosswise, and then split the halves (by pulling the two sides of the pita pocket apart) to make 8 thin semicircles. Put them on a baking sheet and into the oven until they're crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes, and then set them aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, mix the tomatoes, scallions, parsley, cilantro, and mint in a large bowl. The recipe then says to "Press the excess water out of the cucumbers, then rinse quickly and blot dry." (I do this as best I can, again questioning it—not a lot of water ever comes out when I “press” the cucumbers in the colander, and then rinsing them seems to get them wetter than when they started. I blot them with a paper towel.) Put the cucmbers in the bowl with the tomatoes, etc.
4. Mix the garlic, lemon juice, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl (I usually use a screw-top jar I can just shake to mix dressings). Pour the mixture over the salad, and toss well.
5. Mix the toasted pita bread into the salad and serve immediately.
Time: 20-30 minutes