Spring Fatoush

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Spring arrived in spectacular fashion today. It’s clear blue skies, sunshine and a day full of promise. This is easily my favourite time of year. And this weather will stick around for a few days, so I’m pretty happy. I carried that sunshine and happiness through to the salad I made for lunch today.

Middle Eastern is absolutely my favourite cuisine and that was only confirmed after a trip to Lebanon and Syria some years ago. Despite visiting during Ramadan, I was able to try so many different dishes on that trip and I re-created one for lunch today: the Fatoush salad.

There’s no hard and fast recipe for Fatoush, but I believe the dressing is the key component. I follow the dressing recipe from an Ottolengi book, Jerusalem. I’m a huge fan of all his books, mainly because the recipes centre on Middle Eastern food, but also because there’s a huge focus on fresh ingredients.

Here’s Ottolenghi’s recipe for the salad dressing: Mix 100g of Greek yoghurt with 100ml of full fat milk. Leave it in a cool place for a few hours. This creates sort of a home-made buttermilk which has the right combination of creaminess and sourness. Once the milk/yoghurt combination has a good volume of bubbles on the surface, add a few cloves of crushed garlic, a squeezed lemon, a good pour of olive oil, a dash of apple cider vinegar and some salt & pepper. Leave that aside for the flavours to mix while assembling the salad.

To make the salad, I diced a few tomatoes and cucumbers. Add some diced radish, finely chopped flat leaf parsley and fresh mint, if you have it. Lightly toast some Turkish bread, tear into bite-sized pieces but keep it separate to the main salad for now.

To assemble, pour the dressing over the salad, sprinke the Turkish bread on top and then give it a good dose of sumac or zatar and mix it all together. Serve immdiately, ideally with an icy cold beverage. I chose to have a Coldstream apple cider, brewed just up the road in the Yarra Valley.

By the way, the salad bowl in these photos is pretty well-travelled. I bought it in Instanbul’s Grand Bazaar, carried it back to London and then shipped it to Melbourne when I moved here. It’s only a salad bowl, but there are so many wonderful memories associated with it. It makes me happy every time I use it.

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