Almost two years ago I had a salad at a Lebanese restaurant in Accra, Ghana (at two different restaurants actually) that I’ve remembered to this day. And all this time I’ve wanted to make it myself. I finally did last night.

The salad is simple, but it’s nothing I’ve ever seen or eaten in the US (though I’m sure it must exist). It consists of diced cucumber and tomato, romaine lettuce, onions, and pita chips, all dressed heavily with a lemon vinaigrette. Kalamata olives and feta cheese would not be out of place here.

One detail I remember from first having the salad was a visible brown spice in the dressing. At the time I thought it was cinnamon. After searching Google for fattoush, I discovered it was most likely a spice called sumac, a reddish powder ground from the dried berries of the sumac tree—which happens to be closely related to poison-oak, of which I am very allergic. Live dangerously, right? At Whole Foods I found it in a small packet on a display of unusual herbs and spices. For future reference: What to do with sumac.

Fattoush salad
Here’s how it turned out

And here’s the recipe:

Mix together:

For the vinaigrette, whisk together:

And combine. Bon appetit!


A Syrian/Lebanese girlfriend of mine once served me an appetizer of fresh, warm flatbread with a dipping sauce of sumac and herbs in olive oil. It was amazing. She left me with some sumac, but I didn’t get around to cooking with it before it caked up and quit smelling fragrant.

Sometimes I use za’atar instead of sumac which is a mixture of spices that include sumac. I have to order mine from a company in Milkwaukee because it is a hard to find item in Oklahoma. It’s great on fattoush, flat breads and chicken too.

I hate to tell you this, but fattoush was right under your nose for years right here in Chapel Hill! They have it at Mediterranean Deli, and and maybe Tallulah’s as well.

I love the stuff, so I’ll definitely try your recipe. Thanks. ;-)

Ruby: The Fatoush at Med Deli is pretty decent, but Baba Ghannoush (sp?) in Durham is even better.


In Seattle, the nephew of the old owner of Omar Al-Khayam on Aurora now runs a place called Palmyra, located on 45th in Wallingford. He uses the same family recipes and he makes a Fatoush just like his uncle. Try it.


Hey I wanted to let you know a little more about the spice sumac. I am a survivalist and I wanted to let you now that there are 2 kinds of sumac. One is a poisonous verity which is related to poison oak and the other is a small tree type and is not related to poison oak. It has a very nice lemony taste and very high in vitamin C. It has been used by American Indians for years to make an excellent tea which to me taste almost exactly like Lipton iced tea with lemon. The berries are red and I am sure that is this verity your spice comes from. I wanted to mention it so you won’t worry about using it. And I love fattoush too thanks.


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