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Saturday, June 19

Fattoush, A Vegan Salad

      Crazy week here. Sick people and puppies. Has been very little attention paid to good meals. Except for the night my daughter graduated from the 8th grade. That night I took her and her best friend to her favorite Japanese restaurant for her favorite meal. She is not a very reliable vegetarian. At home I have to pay very careful attention to her diet to make sure it is balanced. But I just love watching her at a Japanese restaurant. She ordered a bowl of miso soup, an order of vegetarian sushi, and iced green tea. Makes me very happy to see her eat that meal. That night I ordered something called the tropic roll; a delicious blend of mango, shrimp, and avacado sushi.

       She was less excited about the Fattoush I made last night. Fattoush is a middle eastern dish, and if you have noticed anything about my style of cooking you will see how Fattoush is right up my alley. It encourages the cook's creativity, and allows you to use what is on hand. In fact the dish was designed as a way to use up Syrian bread that is becoming stale, which was just my motivation. I also have lots of mint and parsley on hand, so this was perfect. Children are not likely to be crazy about Fattoush, but you never know. The more they are involved in the growing/ picking/ preparing process the more likely they are to enjoy it. It is a very tasty and refreshing summer salad. It is a bit more tasty if you toss the chopped Syrian bread with olive oil and garlic salt and toast in the oven first, but this is not necessary. I couldn't resist that step myself, though I would never fry it which is often done in the middle east when this salad is made. Don't fold the pita pieces in more than a half hour before you are ready to serve. Also, use whatever lettuce you like. Purslane is traditional, anything somewhat bitter like Mizuna would work well. I used three very fresh Belgian endive heads. Not traditional, but seemed perfect. Herbs are important with sumac being traditional. I didn't have any on hand. Use this recipe only as a jump start for your own creation.

Fattoush is Arabic: فتوش, also fattush

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T lime juice
1 T lemon juice
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large ripe tomato, chopped
1.5 cups lettuce, thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
10 mint leaves, chopped
2 or 3 cups toasted pita pieces
salt and pepper

     In salad bowl whisk together first five ingredients to make dressing. Toss with chopped vegetables and herbs, saving bread until almost ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. This is enough for a large gathering as a side dish, or lunch for about four people.

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