Cook the Book Fridays – Fattoush


If there is one thing on life I really love, it’s a good salad. And sumac. I love sumac so much that I keep it on hand always, and use it wherever I can. For me sumac is like fish sauce in that it lends umami to any dish that you can’t quite place. Sumac has a bold, pungent citrusy-ness, in both taste and aroma, with an equally bold color. A local market sells it so if you need any, let me know and we can work something out.

A fattoush salad has all of my favorite ingredients (lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, etc…), though I couldn’t find fresh mint so I subbed dill instead, which reminded me of  a Fattoush salad that I had once with feta, which wasn’t called a Fattoush salad, but definitely had a lemony vinaigrette dressing.

Speaking of this vinaigrette, my husband and I honeymooned in Paris for 10 days and it was a transcendent experience. It was the first time I really started to explore food, and truly inspired me to cook and explore food, much like many other people that have visited Paris. I remember having a side salad in a bistro one afternoon after visiting Jim Morrison’s grave. The salad was dressed with a lemony mustardy vinaigrette, and it was a revelation. In that moment, all that existed was this salad and this vinaigrette and that sunny seat in Paris. Before I understood much about food it took me forever to really figure out how to replicate it, but whoever discovered this combination of dijon and lemon and olive oil and garlic? I applaude you. Clearly 13 years later it is an indelible culinary memory.

The other specific culinary memory I have was, during our walk to Au Piedmont Du Cochon, seeing a guy screaming while he swung from a lamppost outside of the gendarmes while they (presumably) tried to talk him down. True story. It became the life blood of our laughter filled conversation over dinner, and for many years to follow.

This entry was posted in My Paris Kitchen | David Lebovitz, Sides and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Cook the Book Fridays – Fattoush

  1. What delicious food memory? Paris holds a special place for me too, as one of my top food destinations.

  2. Teresa says:

    I love your comparison of sumac to fish sauce – it does function similarly. I’m out of sumac, so I used some homemade za’atar, instead. And I love that mustardy vinaigrettes bring back such happy memories for you.

  3. hawley32 says:

    I love the idea of dill instead of mint, may try that next time as I am not a fan of mint. I too, thought I should be adding feta to this salad. What a wonderful honeymoon memory for you.

  4. I added dill to one of my incarnations of this salad, too, for the same reason: not enough mint. I figured it would go fine with the mustard vinaigrette and it was quite lovely. That’s so cool about your honeymoon and the vinaigrette, and I can imagine the crazy lamppost man has been one of those indelible memories!

    • Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years says:

      The lamppost guy is really the least of the crazy experiences we had in Paris! Ha!

  5. Lebanon was a mandate of France for about 20 years after WWI. The middle eastern influence can be seen in a lot of French food today. Lemon-olive oil dressings for one. That is also the dressing that is used for Tabouli.
    Loved reading of your memories of Paris. Sounds like a perfect Honeymoon.
    I think dill would be quite good in this salad. Yours looks mouthwatering. Happy weekend!

    • Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years says:

      I have noticed that the recipes we have made so far have a very heavy middle eastern influence. No matter. We are huge fans of the cuisine!

  6. Mary Hirsch says:

    You described Sumac perfectly. I use it often because I cook from Ottolenghi’s 3 cookbooks and he uses it. Although I’ve grown to like it, I’ve never been able to describe it accurately but you definitely nailed it. Saying “it lends umami to any dish that you can’t quite place” is exactly what it does. I know of no one who’s been to Paris who does not return home being transformed in some way. There is something very unworldly about Paris! Lovely post, Nicole.

    • Nicole @ The 2nd 35 Years says:

      I have been thinking of picking up Ottolenghi books, given how much we love food from that region.

  7. betsy says:

    I agree that Paris is a magical place. Your lamppost story put visions of “Singing in the Rain” in my head. I love sumac too. It’s flavor is hard to put a finger on it.

  8. I love sumac! And would sprinkle more on my plate! I hope one day I’ll be able to visit Paris!

  9. Piebird says:

    You were definitely no holds barred on the sumac! I only used a sprinkle as I’m not very familiar with this spice. I’ll have to experiment with it some more!

  10. Emily says:

    A fun post to read and enjoy! I am longing to visit Paris, on my own!

  11. Karen says:

    Great post! Many of my best memories are culinary ones. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s