Fattoush ~ Lebanese Peasant Salad

April 20th, 2012

Fattoush is one of the most well-known of Arabic salads and a standard dish on the mezza table. It’s a colorful tossed salad with a lemony garlic dressing, and if you’ve never made a single Arabic dish, this is a delicious and healthy place to start.

Like most Arabic dishes, the ingredients and proportions can vary. However, all cooks agree that the one essential ingredient to this rustic salad is its crispy pieces of Arabic bread which serve as a kind of Middle Eastern croutons. Claudia Rodin refers to fattoush as “Bread Salad.”

Optional Specialty Ingredients

A few optional ingredients can give fattoush a more authentic flavor. First, sumac, a deep red spice, adds a pleasant lemony taste and an extra layer of zest. Next, pomegranate syrup, one of my favorite Middle Eastern ingredients, provides a lovely sweet-and-sour tang. Finally, some insist that fattoush must include purslane, a pale green herb with pear-shaped leaves. If you can’t get your hands on these ingredients, don’t despair. You can still make a terrific fattoush salad without them.

Below is my recipe for fattoush. It contains the basic ingredients, plus a few optional add-ons. With this method, you can make the salad an hour or two in advance and toss it together just before serving. Always use the freshest ingredients possible.


Serves 6


3 Arabic flat breads

3 medium firm ripe tomatoes, chopped

2-3 small cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and sliced

1 green pepper, seeded and chopped into small pieces

5 small radishes, sliced thinly

6 green onions (scallions), sliced thinly

1 small bunch of fresh mint, leaves only, chopped finely (about ¼ cup)

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely (about ¼ cup)

1 small bunch purslane, tender leaves only (optional)

6 large leaves romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces


1/3 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

1-2 teaspoons pomegranate syrup (optional)

1 teaspoon sumac, or more to taste (optional)


  1. Toast the bread. Traditionally, the pieces of Arabic bread are fried. As a healthier option, cut each round of Arabic bread into two and split into two layers. Brush lightly with olive oil or skip the oil entirely. Place bread on baking sheet and bake in a moderate oven 350° F/180° C for 5 minutes. Turn and repeat until crisp and lightly toasted. (The thinner the bread, the quicker it toasts.) Break the bread into bite-sized “croutons.”
  2. In the bottom of a large salad bowl, place ingredients in this order: tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, radishes, green onion, chopped herbs and finally, the chopped lettuce. Leave ingredients layered in the bowl until ready to serve.
  3. Prepare the dressing. In a small measuring cup, add the olive oil and lemon juice. Wisk in the garlic, salt, pepper, as well as sumac and pomegranate syrup, if using.
  4. Just before serving, gently toss the salad to mix the layers. Add the dressing, just enough to lightly coat the salad.
  5. Garnish the top of the salad with toasted pieces of Arabic bread and an extra sprinkle of sumac, if desired. Serve with extra dressing and “croutons” on the side.

Question: How do you like to prepare Fattoush Salad?

  1. April 20th, 2012 at 15:21 | #1

    Holly this looks gorgeous. It’s nice to be reminded of simple recipes too. If I’m eating Arabic food I have to order fattoush.

  2. April 20th, 2012 at 15:47 | #2

    This salad is part of my special diet. Tasty and healthy and very filling too!

  3. shy
    April 20th, 2012 at 15:57 | #3

    Lovely pics…Love Fattoush salad too:))

  4. Andrea
    April 20th, 2012 at 22:52 | #4

    Is this one of your pictures of a fattoush you made? What tips from your food photog class can you offer?

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 21st, 2012 at 18:52 | #5

      Hi Andrea, The most important thing with food photography is the lighting. Food looks better & more appealing in natural light. For example, you can take a food shot next to a sunny window. It’s good to get everything ready & do some test shots. Then bring out the food at the last moment, as most food starts to wilt or melt or not look so great after a while. Also, to make the food look good, consider colorful & fresh garnish, as well as props that complement the food–for example, I used a red napkin in bring out the color of the tomatoes. A tripod helps & some other tools… If you want to know more you can google “Food photography Tips.” Lots of bloggers have a page of tips. I enjoy taking photos of food more than portraits of my kids. It’s more relaxing and the subject doesn’t talk back, make faces, or get up and walk away. 🙂

  5. April 21st, 2012 at 00:16 | #6

    nicely taken .. it needs little photoshop work :))

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 21st, 2012 at 18:45 | #7

      Hi Abdulaziz, you are sooo right about the photoshop issue. I don’t know how to use photoshop yet. Actually I don’t even have photoshop! This is my next goal… Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  6. zvezdanarashkovichZvezdana
    April 21st, 2012 at 10:40 | #8

    Lovely photos of one of my favorite salads.

  7. April 21st, 2012 at 13:38 | #9

    I adore fattoush and always have to order it when in Dubai and at a Lebanese restaurant. It is also the salad that I make most often at home when craving some light, refreshing Levantine cuisine. Love the styling Holly and the colors of the props. Nicely done. ;o)

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 21st, 2012 at 18:44 | #10

      Thank you, Meeta. I appreciate your encouraging comments. I know I still have many things to learn, but inshaAllah I will get there eventually. Thanks for sharing your tips & tricks. Can’t wait for your next workshop!

  8. April 21st, 2012 at 13:44 | #11

    Holly, I love your styling! Your photos are wonderful! And the recipe is great too. My husband and I were grocery shopping today and picked up some sumac, but I had no idea what to do with it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 21st, 2012 at 18:42 | #12

      Hi Alyssa, Thank you for the encouraging words about my photos. It means a lot. 🙂 As for sumac, you can also use it to season chicken pieces before baking. Rub the raw chicken pieces with lemon juice & then some sumac & a little salt. (The chicken will become red) Then let the chicken “rest” in the baking dish in the fridge for an hour or so. Then cover with some sliced onion & a sprinkle of pine nuts. Cover with foil & Bake at 350 F. Remove the foil after 30 mintues & bake until done. This is a variation of an Arabic chicken dish called “Musakhan” (spelling varies). If you want a more detailed recipe, tell me & I will email it. Perhaps it’s a good recipe for blog post! Thanks again for stopping by.

  9. April 21st, 2012 at 16:03 | #13

    I love Fattoush. I’ll definitely have to try this one because whenever I’ve tried making fattoush salad at home they have always become a bit soggy!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 21st, 2012 at 18:36 | #14

      HI Ishita, Try tossing the the salad with the dressing before adding the Arabic bread croutons. Just put the croutons on top w/o mixing & they should stay crispy. Also, serve extra croutons on the side…. Believe it or not, some people like the bread soggy. Not me though… My problem is I eat most of the croutons before they make it to the salad. :-O Thanks for the comment!

  10. April 23rd, 2012 at 14:16 | #15

    Hello Holly, that is one fantastic looking fattoush salad. The colors are so vibrant, the dish looking so within reach I can almost grab the fork and “dig in”. Wish I could, I love fattoush! Look forward to meet you some time at a food blogger gathering perhaps?

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      April 23rd, 2012 at 17:35 | #16

      Hi Francine, Thanks for the kind words. Much appreciated…. I have never been to a food blogger gathering, but if there is one & I am free, I will be there! I look forward to reading more on your blog, too. (Very impressive cooking background. Wow.) Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  11. April 26th, 2012 at 20:29 | #17

    Hi Holly! Funny story, I actually had all the ingredients to make this salad this past weekend and planned to do so. The plan was filed under the “To Do” section of my brain. Unfortunately this section is not checked so much on the weekends and I began using the ingredients for other things. I made a pasta sauce with the tomatoes, made iced mint tea with the mint, and so on. So on Sunday, no salad as planned. It looks delicious and I’m sure I’ll get it together one of these days! Thanks!

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      May 3rd, 2012 at 18:00 | #18

      Hi Molly,
      That sort of thing happens to me all the time. I’m sure you’ll have many times in the future to make fattoush. 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  12. Becky Cochran
    June 9th, 2012 at 22:03 | #19

    Many memories Holly reading the Fattoush recipe here, one of the things I miss. I could so easily list missed things…..huge on the list is Tom, he’ll be home in 13 days! Yippee! For awhile I’ll have to stick to American dishes, at some point I may make fattoush for my little neighbor friends here at the beach. Love your blog Holly, very nicely done. Becky

    • Holly S. Warah
      Holly S. Warah
      June 10th, 2012 at 10:31 | #20

      Thanks for your sweet comment, Becky. I’m sure you are enjoying being back in the States. Yes, I think Fattoush is a terrific dish to prepare for your neighbors. It’s Middle Eastern, but not too “out there.” LOL Enjoy your summer and Tom’s homecoming. Thanks for stopping by.

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