Crisp, crunchy, sour and fresh, this is a simple yet lip-smackingly bright Egyptian (and, more broadly, Levantine) bread salad.
Fattoush is traditionally made with lettuce leaves, cucumber, fried pita bread and a big dose of olive oil; so with these flavours as a base, I decided to create a version that was a little different, and a little lighter on the oil, but still recognisable as the classic it is.
Not one to usually swap delicious and crisp romaine leaves for an alternative, I thought I’d shake up the recipe just a little by substituting it for kale. I think this works really well in fattoush; the strong intensity of the dark green leaves carry the bitter lemon and sumac flavours into a powerful combination.
As well as tomatoes, fattoush is most often enjoyed with thinly sliced, crunchy radish; a fiery little member of the brassica family that’s prolific in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. It’s no wonder! Peppery, crunchy, colourful and pretty – a worthy inclusion. They also pack a nutritious punch, full of potassium and calcium, as well as magnesium and folic acid, which can both be helpful in pregnancy. Magnesium is also great for bone health, muscle strength and normal blood pressure. Goodness galore!
And let’s stop for a moment to marvel at these courgette zoodles! I wanted something a little different to cucumber in taste and texture (we’re not exactly best friends), but not too different. And zoodles look just fabulous, don’t they? If you don’t have a spiraliser, or just fancy being more traditional, feel free to cube a cucumber or courgette instead.
This Kale Fattoush goes fantastically well with my Lemon & Thyme Baba Ghanoush. In fact, I first served them together for Dan’s birthday tea, which he has assured me, he enjoyed very much.
These are such vibrant flavours and they hold a lot of dear memories for me: our first holiday abroad together to Egypt, eating lunch outside a dusty café in Islamic Cairo. Impromptu midweek dinners and birthday meals at our favourite Egyptian restaurant in London; which is actually more of a living room, complete with blaring tv and enthusiastically loud Arabic conversation from the other diners (and sometimes no other diners at all). A celebration dinner following our secret purchase of wedding rings at a favourite, tiny, Lebanese restaurant hidden in an alleyway between the adult entertainment of Soho. Each time I eat fattoush, these are the pictures that remind me of the love I am lucky to have.
But, you know, it is also just a salad. A really fresh, sour, crunchy, zesty, clean-tasting and simple salad, that will have you longing for evenings in the sun with an ice and lemon-filled glass (of gin).
So here’s why you should make this Kale Fattoush today. It’s:
- a fresh, healthy, delicious salad ready to eat in under 15 minutes;
- simple, yet bursting with flavour;
- aromatic with mint and lemon, flavours that dance around the bowl with every stir;
- a great source of vitamins C, K and calcium;
- a versatile recipe that can accompany any number of dishes from quiche to roasted aubergines, or be enjoyed in all its zesty glory as the main event; and
- suitable for keeping in the fridge for a whole variety of weekday lunches: think hummus, tomato and fattoush one day, toasted falafel and fattoush-stuffed pita the next! Wonderful.
What are your favourite adaptations to a classic recipe?
- 200g kale or cavolo nero
- 2 echalion shallots
- 10 small-variety heirloom tomatoes (or other small tomatoes)
- 8 red-skinned radishes
- 1 courgette
- 5 sprigs fresh mint
- 5 sprigs fresh parsley
- 2 wholemeal pita or flatbreads
- For the dressing:
- Juice of ½ organic lemon
- 1 clove garlic
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sumac
- Pinch Himalayan pink salt (or other good salt)
- Black pepper
- Tear the kale leaves into bite-sized pieces, removing the centre stems, and place them in a large bowl.
- Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients and giving it a good stir. Pour this into the bowl and massage the kale leaves until they are bright green and tender.
- Slice the shallots thinly and stir these in with the kale, helping them to marinate.
- Halve the tomatoes, slice the radishes into slivers and chop the leaves of the mint and parsley. Add these to the kale.
- Spiralise the courgette (or use a peeler to create ribbons) and stir these in too.
- When you're just about ready to serve, toast the bread, cut into little squares and stir in. I like to keep some back to sprinkle on top, to retain some of the crunch.
- Garnish with a squeeze more lemon and a pinch more sumac.