Recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Ottolenghi and Tamimi
Way back in February, to mark the beginning of the seventh year (!) of The Bitten Word, we did a giveaway for dinner for six at our place. It was the best way we could think to mark our blogiversary. Meeting and hearing from so many of you over all these years has truly been the highlight of writing this blog (yes, it does thrill us, still, when you comment). Inviting a reader and his or her friends over for dinner sounded like a ton of fun.
Longtime reader Margie, who lives out in Virginia, won the random drawing for dinner. It took us a few months to get our schedules worked out, but in mid-May Margie came to dinner with three friends in tow.
We pitched three dinner ideas to Margie in the weeks leading up to the meal:
- A Thai feast, based on what we learned at a Thai cooking school (we know, we know....we're delinquent in sharing those recipes with you).
- A grilling extravaganza. Warm temperatures had just arrived and we were itching for some food from the grill.
- An all-Ottolenghi meal, featuring recipes from the popular cookbooks Plenty, Jerusalem and Ottolenghi, all by London-based, Israeli-born chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his business partner Sami Tamimi.
Margie chose Ottolenghi -- which is what we were secretly rooting for. We have previously made one Ottolenghi dish -- Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango -- and have been eager for an excuse to make more. Plus, one of the guests coming with Margie was vegetarian, and Ottolenghi is a master of vegetable side dishes and vegetarian mains.
In the end, we selected five recipes from the books. We're going to share them all over the next week or so, starting with the first course of our dinner with Margie, Na'ama's Fattoush Salad.
We've had variations on a fattoush salad in restaurants. We bet a bunch of you have, too. For the uninitiated, it's a Middle Eastern chopped salad, with small bits of tomato, cucumber, radish and other vegetables. This version, named for Sam Tamimi's mother, includes torn pieces of naan.
We loved the salad, with a few caveats.
First, the good: We love the flavors. The mix of vegetables, spices and herbs is robust, just simply packed with flavor. There's a lot going on here, and it all works incredibly well together, like the freshest fresh salad.
Where to be wary: Be careful in the ratio of dressing to salad. We overdressed ours and would have preferred less yogurt in the mix. And when making this again, we would shorten the amount of time suggested by the recipe between assembling and serving the salad. Depending on the naan you use and the amount of dressing in the mix, the 10 minutes may be too much, resulting in soggy bread.
But those are quibbles. This is a dynamite salad and much deserving a spot on your table.
As summer produce starts to appear, we can already see how we'll riff endlessly on this recipe.
NOTES FROM ZACH AND CLAY
- We found sumac in the spice aisle at Whole Foods.
- If you want to make the dressing that uses yogurt and whole milk (instead of purchasing buttermilk), you need to do that at least 3 hours in advance. Other than that, this dish can be prepped in advance but not assembled until you're ready to serve.
- The recipe suggests assembling the salad and then waiting ten minutes to serve. We suggest you check in earlier than 10 minutes to avoid soggy naan.
scant 1 cup Greek yogurt and 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons whole milk, or 1 2/3 cups buttermilk (replacing both yogurt and milk)
2 large stale Turkish flatbread or naan (9 oz)
3 large tomatoes (13 oz), cut into 2/3-inch dice
3 1/2 oz radishes, thinly sliced
3 Lebanese or mini cucumbers (9 oz), peeled and chopped into 2/3-inch dice
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 oz fresh mint
scant 1 oz flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon dried mint
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 Tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoons sumac or more to taste, to garnish
If using yogurt and milk, start at least three hours and up to a day in advance by placing both in a bowl. Whisk well and leave in a cool place or in the fridge until bubbles form on the surface. What you get is a kind of homemade buttermilk, but less sour.
Tear the bread into bite-size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Add your fermented yogurt mixture or buttermilk, followed by the rest of the ingredients, mix well and leave for 10 minutes for all the flavors to combine.
Spoon the fattoush into serving bowls, drizzle with olive oil and garnish generously with sumac.