Grilled Fattoush...the Lebanese answer to the Italian panzanella.
Spring is definitely my FAVORITE season. Budding flowers, new limey-green grass shooting up everywhere, the return of migrating birds...all promises of better weather and flourishing life. I love to plant seeds in the spring. I'm no master gardener, mind you, but I can handle a deck-full of herb pots.
I believe a little faith is required for gardening. Faith after all, is just a deep hope in things unseen. You sprinkle the tiny kernels over the freshly stirred soil, water, and hope beyond all hopes that tomatoes, dill, and basil will emerge. Yes, there is evidence from previous years that this will be the outcome...but you still have no tangible proof in the moment of planting...you just believe.
Spring also brings about another area requiring faith. This time of year, I start to think about what we will do this summer. Picnics, trips to the lake or the coast...this calls for bathing suit shopping. HERE IT IS--the moment I decide we need to incorporate more "dinner salads" into our weekly menu! Salad--definitely a matter of faith. We HOPE. We BELIEVE, that if enough salad is substituted for starchy side dishes, bathing suit shopping--and the whole summer--will be a better experience. We act on our faith (or at least I do) and select large salads for our family's weekly menu. This takes a little adjustment at first, but with enough variation and a little flair, everyone comes around!
Besides faith, variety is the key to sticking with ANYTHING! Salads must be diverse and flavorful, if I don't want my family to slump into the kitchen, with begrudging sighs at meal time. I have spent a substantial amount of time finding and creating salads that I think will draw some interest. Fattoush is a Lebanese salad I stumbled across several years ago. A chunky, chop salad mixed with feta cheese and pieces of toasted pita, then tossed with a simple lemon vinaigrette! I've taken to grilling some of the veggies before tossing them in with the salad because it enhances their flavor and appearance. Peppers, for instance, are much sweeter and vibrant looking with a little char.
This is great on it's own, but as long as the grill's hot, I usually throw on some fish to go along with the fattoush!
2 peppers, red and/or yellow
3 pita breads
1 ½ cups cucumber, peeled and chopped into ¾ inch cubes
1 large tomato, chopped
¾ cup green onions, chopped
1 cup pitted or halved kalamata olives
½ cup fresh chopped mint
¼ cup chopped parsley
¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup olive oil
1 juicy lemon, squeezed
1 tsp. cumin
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the grill to high. Half the zucchinis, length-wise and cut the peppers into large chunks and remove seeds.
Separate the layers of the pitas to make 6 pita circles.
Drizzle olive oil over the zucchini, peppers and pitas and salt and pepper them. Roll them around, to make sure they have a good coat of oil. Grill the veggies for about 2-3 minutes per side, until nice grill marks have formed and the veggies are slightly tender. Then grill the pitas, for 1 minute per side, until toasty.
In a large serving bowl, add all the other veggies and herbs.
Once the grilled veggies have cooled, chop them into ¾ inch cubes and add them to the serving bowl.
Break the pitas into bite-size pieces and add to the mix. Toss the salad and sprinkle the feta over the top.
Mix ¼ cup of olive oil and the juice of one lemon in a small bowl. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and whisk. Drizzle over the salad when ready to serve! Serves 4-6.