Author Notes: Transform day-old pita into an out of this world salad. Our Fattoush Recipe at Tawla mixes arugula with pita rusks, sumac onions, almonds, and date vinaigrette, making an excellent salad that brings everything together.
To make pita rusks, tear a day-old pita bread by hand into rough bite-sized pieces and place it in a bowl with roughly 4oz of olive oil. Each piece should be soaked in olive oil, leaving your bowl wiped clean. Spread the pieces on a baking tray and toast in a 400 degree oven, checking and stirring every 10 minutes. You want the largest pieces to have an even, golden brown and crunchy exterior with just a bit of chew in the middle, while the smaller pieces will be completely dried and crunchy, giving excellent texture to the salad. —Azhar Hashem
ounce Shallot, brunoise/diced
ounces Date molasses
ounces Red wine vinegar
ounce Lemon juice
ounces Olive oil
Garnishes & Assembly
ounce Whole almonds
pieces Medjool dates
piece Red onion
- The shallot must be brunoised/diced as finely as possible. Take your time and practice your knife skills, big pieces will create an overwhelming onion flavor. **Pro-tip: Cover the minced shallot with the lemon juice and let sit to at least 10 minutes macerate, it will turn pink and sweet when it is ready to use.
- Thoroughly whisk together all ingredients with much more salt than you think and taste, taste, taste! The vinaigrette should be very salty and acidic on its own - if you are not sure of the final seasoning, dip a leaf of salad greens into the dressing to test.
- This makes more vinaigrette than you need, store in the fridge for later use.
Garnishes & Assembly
- Julienne the onion lengthwise as thinly as possible, it should be transparent. Submerge the onion in ice water for 30 minutes, until it the flavor is less pungent/raw. Dry the onion thoroughly in a salad spinner or by blotting on a towel. Combine with the sumac, a splash of olive oil, and a small pinch of salt. Toast the almonds in a dry pan in the oven until aromatic and lightly brown inside but not bitter. Once cool, coarsely chop them. Put the dates in a dry pan and set over a medium flame without moving them. You are intentionally burning one side - once there is a good bit of black on the bottom and your kitchen smells like very dark caramel they are ready. Once cool, remove the pits and tear into 3-4 pieces per date.
- For the non-arugula portion of the salad, you are looking for a good mix of tender baby lettuce, larger crunchier greens such as chopped romaine, and a touch of thinly sliced radicchio or treviso for some bitterness. Use your judgement, it should be colorful, have many textures, and be about 50% arugula.
- Place the rusks, dates, and almonds in the largest mixing bowl you have; it is important you have plenty of space to get your hands in there and move things around gently to not ruin the greens. Cover with about 4 oz of vinaigrette (make sure to recombine by whisking or putting it in an old wine bottle and shaking like a cocktail!) Mix everything around so the rusks begin soaking up the dressing.
- Add your radicchio/treviso and other sturdier greens, give everything a quick toss. Right now everything should look a bit overdressed with some vinaigrette pooling up in the bottom of the bowl, but not a soup either. Add a splash if it doesn't seem like enough to properly dress the rest of the greens.
- Add the arugula. Using both hands, carefully toss the salad by lifting and turning with gentle open palms, never smashing or grabbing, just turning and dropping. Let the arugula lightly pull vinaigrette off the sides of the bowl. Each leaf should be glistening with dressing but the bowl should be nearly dry at the bottom by the time you are done.
- Add vinaigrette in small amounts and continue tossing until this is achieved. Taste as you go, adjusting as necessary with salt or vinaigrette. Scatter the onions over the top to taste, you will have more than needed