|Garlic and salt in mortar and pestle|
Very recently while in Pottstown, PA and hungry for dinner before running off to a movie, we found an amazing cafe hidden in a residential street. The iCreate cafe, revels nothing about what is inside.
A row house set up as an endless row of living rooms, with cafe tables and lounging areas. The world cup was playing on a projector. Everything mismatched, clearly homegrown, a space created by the owner, I sank into a couch in front of dishes of hummus and baba ganoush and pita breads, feeling entirely relaxed, happy and at home.
If it wasn't close to closing time, I would have sat there for hours. But it was almost closing time when we arrived, and we were happy to eat something which wouldn't be much work for the owner to prepare, as he was clearly cleaning up when we arrived, when we ordered the pita breads and dips, I wondered aloud if he had any fattoush salad, or something equally fresh.
|Toast pita bread|
"You want fattoush?"
"Well, yes, only if it is no trouble, like if you have some made up...?"
"Its no problem."
Ash began to make the fattoush salad from scratch. I peaked to see him mashing garlic in a morter and pestle, toasting pita breads, making dressing from scratch, tearing mint and parsley, adding more olive oil to the salad at the end. I felt sort of bad, that he was going to the trouble at the very end of the night. If you have worked in a kitchen, you know the feeling. He worked with ease, on the other side of a bar counter, where he chatted with us and the remaining guests who after their dinners had been hanging around like it was their own apartment.
The salad packed up in a large to-go container, we settled the bill and made our goodbyes to new friends. I smuggled the fattoush into the movies in my purse, with crossed fingers the dressing would stay put where it belonged!
|Cucumbers and Radish|
The previews are too long these days, but it was devoured before they were over. Big chunks of tomato and cucumber, Loads of fresh mint and parsley. Tangy and fruity olive oil dressing and lots of toasted chewy pita bread torn into it. At that moment I was so grateful he went to the trouble to make this salad, this work of art. That is one of the best salads ive ever had. Defiantly the best ever eaten in the reflected light of a movie theatre.
|Leftover pita bread|
Inspired by the fattoush salad at iCreate cafe, and the one in Ottolengi's Jerusalem cookbook, this is my version of the classic salad from the Middle East.
4 small cucumbers
1 cup cherry tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes
1 bunch radishes
4 garlic cloves
salt, to taste
two whole wheat pita breads, more or less
1/8 - 1/4 cup olive oil, more or less
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon dried mint
handful of fresh mint and parsley (optional)
2 teaspoons ground sumac, to garnish
fresh ground pepper
Chop the cucumber into large bite size pieces. Slice the tomatoes and radish, put all the veggies into a bowl. Put a the garlic along with a pinch of salt into a mortar and pestle. The salt helps break down the garlic into a paste. Scoop the garlic paste into the veggie bowl. Add the dressing ingredients to the veggies, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and yogurt. Toss well to mix. Add the herbs, dried mint and whatever fresh mint and parsley you have on hand. Mix them in well, set aside for 30 minutes so the dressing marinates the veggies.
Briefly toast pita bread, in a toaster, or a skillet. The effect is to dry and toast the outside, but keep the inside soft, we aren't making pita chips here. Keep the pita to the side until ready to eat.
Tear the pita breads over the salad, garnish liberally with sumac and ground pepper. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top, why not!
Serves at least 4 as a side or 2 as a main course.