Sam’s Spring Fattoush Salad
A few weeks after our older son was born, I ran into my friend Sam Mogannam. I was light-headed from exhaustion, teary from lack of sleep. “You want some advice about kids?” asked Sam, who has two daughters. I figured he was going to tell me what I’d already heard—to sleep when the baby was sleeping or purchase a specific brand of pacifier.
Instead he grabbed my hand, looked straight into my eyes, and said, simply, “Surrender.”
It remains the best parenting advice I’ve heard, and it’s the only tip I share with new parents.
In addition to being a font of wisdom, Sam’s a great cook; he’s co-owner of Bi-Rite Market, a beloved San Francisco grocery store started by his grandfather, and before taking over the family business, he worked in restaurants. This is an approximation of a simple recipe he served me once. Though it’s simple, the devil is in the details. Thin-skinned Persian, Armenian, or Japanese cucumbers, which have few seeds, a snappy texture, and a distinct sweetness, are what make the salad special. In a pinch, European hothouse cucumbers can be substituted, but avoid the typical grocery-store cukes, which are too seedy and wet for this recipe.
Part of what makes this salad so great is the dynamic textures; the cracker-like baked lavash croutons and the crunchy cucumbers and radishes contrast with the creamy feta and soft herbs. I dress this with an especially tart vinaigrette made from equal parts lemon juice and olive oil and serve it right away, before it gets soggy. It would be a great side dish with all sorts of things, but I particularly like it alongside Grilled Tahini Chicken.
2 pieces lavash bread
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons
extra-virgin olive oil
Aleppo pepper (optional)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
5 Persian, Armenian, or Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
5 radishes, thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup dill fronds
1 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup feta, preferably sheep’s milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the lavash on both sides with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and Aleppo pepper, if using. Transfer to the oven and bake until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil until combined.
In a large salad bowl, combine the cucumbers, radishes, green onions, dill, and mint. Drizzle half of the dressing over it and toss with your hands to coat. Break the lavash into bite-size pieces and add to the bowl along with the feta. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and gently mix with your hands to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and Aleppo pepper and serve immediately.
Excerpted from Repertoire. Copyright © 2018 by Jessica Battilana. Used with permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York. All rights reserved.