The crunchy, juicy salad known in the Middle East as fattoush is just one of the region’s many thrifty and tasty uses for day-old or dried-out bread. Stale bread is better than fresh for some dishes because it will absorb more liquid, such as the juices from a ripe tomato or — in this recipe — a lively dressing with mint leaves, lemon juice and a bit of honey to smooth out the flavors. The Israeli-American chef Einat Admony, who created this rewrite of the classic, took the radical step of leaving out the tomato and adding avocado, a very American ingredient.
To make the bread shards very crisp, toast and let cool before breaking. To make them more luxurious, tear up the bread and toast it in a hot skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil, butter, or both.
For the vinaigrette
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ teaspoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- ½ teaspoon chopped shallot or 1/2 small garlic clove
- ½ cup grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves
For the salad
- 1 pita bread or other flatbread such as lavash, preferably slightly stale
- 2 mini seedless cucumbers (also called Persian cucumbers), chilled
- 1 Hass avocado, ripe but firm, chilled
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 large handfuls (a scant 2 ounces) arugula
- 2 large handfuls (a scant 2 ounces) watercress
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ teaspoon sumac
- Nutritional Information
Note: Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available data.
Nutritional analysis per serving (4 servings)
439 calories; 39 grams fat; 7 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 25 grams monounsaturated fat; 4 grams polyunsaturated fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 6 grams protein; 16 milligrams cholesterol; 415 milligrams sodium
- Make the vinaigrette: In a blender, combine the lemon juice, mustard, honey, 1/4 teaspoon salt and shallots or garlic. Blend until smooth. With the machine running, slowly pour in the oil and blend until mixture is emulsified. Add mint leaves and blend very briefly, just until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day.
- Make the salad: If using pita, separate the two layers. Toast bread until crunchy, let cool, then break into rough bite-size pieces. Set aside. Cut chilled cucumbers in half lengthwise and turn cut sides down. Cut crosswise into slices 1/4-inch thick. Peel and pit the chilled avocado and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine cucumber and avocado in a salad bowl. Add the mint, parsley, arugula and watercress.
- Pour in about 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss gently. Taste, then add more dressing and salt as needed. (Save unused dressing for future use.) Sprinkle feta over the top, then add the sumac and bread. Serve immediately.