Waste Not: Thrift and Greens Inspire a Spring Garden Salad

Fatoush Salad Spring is my favorite time of the year because it means I can shop at local farmers markets again after the long Midwestern winter. The earliest items available in the markets are spring greens, and those beautiful, fresh greens...

Fatoush Salad
Fatoush Salad

Spring is my favorite time of the year because it means I can shop at local farmers markets again after the long Midwestern winter.

The earliest items available in the markets are spring greens, and those beautiful, fresh greens make me think of salad. When I think of salad, I think of Fatoush, a Middle Eastern dish created by thrifty cooks as a way to use leftover pita.

“Fatoush” refers to broken pieces of dried pita liberally sprinkled through the salad. I am fortunate to have access to whole wheat Lebanese pita, a thinner variety. I enjoy this salad so much that I always keep a package of pita in my freezer in case I don’t have leftovers on hand when I’m in the mood for Fatoush.

When I visit the market in the spring, I look for and can usually find some mixture of lettuce, mesclun, spinach, baby chard and kale. I try to find a variety of colors from light to deep green with some ruby-red leaves.

Other must-haves are mint and green onions, and I like to use spring radishes.

The greens (and deep reds), green onions, mint and radishes are the basics. Any other finds for my salad are a bonus. When they’re available, I add tomatoes and cucumbers to the mix, sometimes even avocado, although that won't come from a market that specializes in local produce in the northern United States.

Before I make my Middle Eastern style spring garden salad, I heat my oven to 250 degrees and put a “loaf” or piece of pita into it to dry it completely. The pita then gives a delightful crispy crunch to the Fatoush.

My thin, whole wheat pita toasted and cooled, I wash my farmers' market finds and complete my salad. I cut the greens into uniform 2” strips by making narrow cuts across the greens, then another set of perpendicular cuts 2” apart. I prepare about two quarts of greens.

For two quarts of greens, I mince 3 or 4 green onions, 5 or 6 radishes and at least four or five sprigs of mint.

If I’m adding them, I petite dice 2 tomatoes, 1 pickling cucumber and 1 avocado. One more optional ingredient is sumac, available in Middle Eastern sections of stores. Sumac is a deep red seasoning with a lemony flavor.

I add 1 quart of toasted and cooled, broken pita to 2 quarts of salad and toss it with ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of ½ lemon, 1 tablespoon of sumac and salt to taste.

Then I sit and enjoy this beautiful, delicious, satisfying spring meal.

We'd like to hear what other spring veggies or fruits you try in your Fatoush. Pieces of apricots? Strawberries? Please contact us with your ideas.