Fattoush With Fava Beans & Labneh Recipe
A Lebanese salad from Tara O'Brady's Seven Spoons. Fattoush is a Lebanese chopped vegetable salad with bread, seasoned with sumac. That dusted maroon, provocatively sour spice electrifies everything it touches with a vividly citric bite. Some fattoush recipes have yogurt or buttermilk in the dressing; this one is laid atop a bed of unadulterated labneh. The result is astoundingly refreshing; it is a natural, equal partner to barbecued meats, lentil koftas or feta, fresh or baked.
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground sumac, plus more for garnish
1-1/2 tsp dried mint
Medium-grain kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups tomatoes, about 3, but a mix of sizes and varieties is lovely
8 oz. podded fresh or frozen fava beans, blanched
1 English cucumber, cut lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2 radishes, sliced wafer thin
Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems
Small bunch of mint
2 pita breads, split into layers and toasted on low until dry
2 cups homemade labneh (see below) or Greek-style yogurt
Smoked paprika, for sprinkling (optional)
3/4 tsp fine-grain sea salt for savory uses, 1/3 tsp for sweet
1-1/2 quarts full-fat plain yogurt, made from cow’s or goat’s milk or a mixture
Step 1: In a small bowl, finely grate the zest of half the lemon on top of the olive oil. Squeeze in most of the juice from the lemon, about 3 tablespoons. Whisk in the garlic, sumac, and mint and season with salt and pepper. The vinaigrette should be quite sharp; add more lemon juice if it’s warranted. Set aside.
Step 2: Cut the tomatoes into reasonably bite-size pieces, in chunks, quarters, or in halves for smaller varieties. A combination of shapes adds to the rustic visual charm of the salad, as well as textural interest. Tumble the tomatoes, favas, cucumber, green onions, and radishes into a large bowl. Pick the small leaves off the parsley and mint, and keep to one side. Coarsely chop the remaining leaves and add to the bowl. Drizzle most of the dressing over the salad and toss. Check for seasoning, adding dressing by the tablespoon as needed, then toss again. Tear most of pita into the bowl and give a few gentle folds to incorporate. Let the salad marinate for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Divide the labneh or yogurt among 4 serving plates or spread across a large platter. Drizzle with any remaining dressing, then turn the fattoush out over the top with the reserved herbs and the last of the pita. Sprinkle with more sumac and the paprika. Dig in.
Step 1: Set a super-fine nylon strainer over a deep bowl. Stir the salt into the yogurt and scrape the mixture into the prepared strainer. Cover and refrigerate and let the yogurt drain for between 8 and 24 hours, or until the labneh has reached the desired consistency. Alternatively, set a nonreactive metal strainer over a bowl and line with a few layers of overhanging cheesecloth. Stir the salt into the yogurt and scrape the mixture into the prepared strainer. Either cover and refrigerate as is, or for faster draining, tie the ends of the cheesecloth securely to put pressure on the yogurt.Remove the strainer from the bowl. Push a hook or the handle of a wooden spoon through the knot on the cheesecloth. Suspend the bundle over the bowl in the refrigerator, then leave to drain as before.
Step 2: Scrape the labneh into an airtight storage container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Discard the whey.
Reprinted with permission from Tara O’Brady’s Seven Spoons (2015 Appetite by Random House).