By Lori Meszaros, Recent Nutrition Communication student at ASU
Did you know that Yuma, Arizona is known as the world’s lettuce capital in the winter months? Yuma’s beautiful climate allows farmers to grow lettuce when other areas of the country are too cold. Winter makes the perfect time to add this wonderful crunchy leaf to your dinner plate.
One of the many benefits I have from traveling the world and living overseas is the wonderful cultural cuisine I get to sample. I’m currently living in the Middle East in Qatar and have found a new love for unique spice blends and flavors I have never experienced anywhere else in the world.
Growing up on a small farm outside of Phoenix, my only experience with ethnic food was our local Mexican or Chinese Restaurant. While I still have a love for Mexican food, and no matter where I have traveled I haven’t found any as good as what I had in Arizona, my palate has changed. I love experiencing new spices and flavors that other ethnic cuisines offer!
Fattoush is a wonderful Middle Eastern salad that originated in Lebanon. It was traditionally known as Lebanese peasant salad because farmers would just throw whatever they had from their harvest into a bowl. Now you find it made with fresh seasonal ingredients, like crisp leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint and if in season, green bell pepper. But what separates this salad from just any other chopped salad is the is the toasted pita bread that soaks up the sweet and tangy sumac dressing, and the little-known secret that is pomegranate molasses.
Fattoush is an easy salad to make that can be enjoyed all year. Most ingredients are seasonally fresh in Arizona and can be found at any local farmer’s market or grocery store. Adding salads before your meal is an easy way to help you get your five-a-day, and research supports that adding salads before you meal can help reduce the number of calories eaten during the meal.
Here’s a traditional Lebanese Fattoush Salad my neighbor shared with me.
One head of lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, diced
2 small cucumbers, diced
1 red onion, diced (optional)
1 handfull of parsley or cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 handful of mint, coarsely chopped
2 pita bread
A sprinkle of sumac and olive oil to make toasted pita bread
1-2 cloves garlic
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp sumac
A pinch of salt
A few drops of pomegranate molasses (optional)
How to make Fattoush
- Separate the pita bread and then lightly coat with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac. Cut pita into small squares and bake until they are lightly brown (~5 mins at 400F).
- Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl.
- Make dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or finely dice garlic and whisk ingredients until blended.
- Pour half the dressing onto the salad and toss to coat.
- Put salad into a serving bowl, top with toasted pita bread, then drizzle with the remaining dressing.
- Garnish with a little sprinkle of sumac and enjoy!
Rolls BJ, Roe LS & Meengs JS. Salad and Satiety: Energy density of portion size of a first-course salad affect energy intake at lunch. J Am Diet Assoc. 2004;104(10):-1570-1576.