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Fatoush Salad with Herbed Pita

Fatuosh Salad with Herbed Pita

Fatuosh Salad with Herbed Pita as part of a Meze


Each week I chat with Matt Swaim on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio, about Bible foods and herbs. Today we talked about bread.


John 6:11: Loaves and fishes: 5000 people were fed with only 5 barley loaves with leftovers. Just as thousands were filled with just five loaves, Jesus feeds us with his Eucharistic flesh.


John 6: 30-66:  They said to him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I AM the bread of life;


Many kinds of bread in Biblical days.

There was oiled bread, leavened barley bread and bread made from farro, an ancient wheat, also a bread made from a mixture of grains, which is now the famous Ezekiel bread.  There was also a sourdough type of starter used by the Egyptians to make bread. So there was both leavened and unleavened bread.

There’s a story that says the first leavened bread could have come about from a baker in the royal Egyptian household who forgot about a lump of dough. His dough soured and expanded. He got frightened and kneaded it into newly made dough and baked it on hot stones. The raise bread was a success.

Yeasts left over from brewing or wine making were used as starter cultures for these biblical leaven recipes.

Bread was the staff of life then, just as it is now. And it’s so basic that the word was used as a synonym for food in one of our most revered prayers: The Our Father. “Give us this day our daily bread.”

We know Christ often broke bread with his disciples and bits of broken bread, particularly the flat Lebanese bread I bake, were used as scoops like spoons to pick up food. We still use the bread as scoops whenever I prepare a Lebanese meal.

Preparing bread in Christ’s day

Bread was baked on a daily basis. Hebrew housewives ground the grain by hand, using a mill which was two large, flat stones fitted together. Wheat or barley was poured through a hole in the upper stone to trickle down between the stones and a stick was used as a lever to turn the upper stone against the lower one, grinding the grain. After that, it was made into dough.

A fire was made in the bottom of a clay oven and when it was hot enough the dough was flattened by hand into thin disks and slapped onto the inner sides of the oven where they stuck and baked quickly.

Breads were baked in public ovens.

Towns had public ovens with professional bakers. So you could prepare the dough at home and the kids usually carried the dough on large trays to be baked in the public oven.


I get so hungry for this salad during the long days of winter!

Go to taste here on ingredients and seasonings. Sumac, a spice mentioned in the Bible, elevates this dish. If you don’t have any, just leave it out, but make a note to buy some next time you go to the grocery.

1 head Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped

1 English cucumber, diced

2-3 large tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped (you may not need all of it)

A nice handful of mint, chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 bunch green onions, finely sliced (you may not need all)

1 rib celery, sliced thin

1/2 to 1 cup of Kalamata olives, sliced or coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sumac plus extra for dusting onto plate edge

2 pita rounds, brushed with olive oil, toasted until golden brown but still chewy, cut into very small wedges or torn into pieces.


Whisk together

1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Good amount of garlic: start with 2 teaspoons minced and

1 teaspoon salt or to taste; pepper to taste

Good amount of Feta for sprinkling on top

Put salad ingredients together. Toss with dressing. Pile onto plate. Sprinkle with Feta. Dust rim with sumac.

Serves 6.

Optional but good: Zaatar dusted pita:

Before toasting, sprinkle with zaatar

Zaatar is a blend of thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds and sumac. Sumac comes from a shrub common in the Middle East which can grow up to 33 feet (the age which Jesus died). It has a tart, lemony flavor and the berries, or drupes, are called “bobs” and are dried to produce a red spice.





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