One of the things I love about Watertown, MA. is the plethora of Middle Eastern food available around every corner. From the markets that line East Watertown (Massis, Sevan and Arax) to the delicious restaurants just over the Belmont line (Seta’s, Sofra and Ani’s ), the variety of foods available makes this area worth a short trip from Boston.
The beautiful thing about the foods offered at these places, is its powerful flavor that is so simple. I dare you to try anything these places have to offer and say it is bland. It won’t happen. BUT, to repeat a lot of these recipes, you also won’t be seeing an exhausting laundry list of ingredients. It is so simple, and so delicious.
One part of Middle Eastern cooking that I don’t quite have a handle on yet is the baking. And packaged lavash, pita, naan or the likes, never tastes quite the same. Enter Stonefire Flatbreads. I was skeptical when I first received a package of Stonefire’s products to taste. I am just too spoiled by the fresh-baked versions available all around me, that the pre-packaged stuff tastes so…well…prepackaged! But the Ajmera family, the founders of Stonefire Flatbreads, took this to heart when they created the company. Made using traditional baking techniques, and NO artificial preservatives, Stonefire’s products are every bit as delicious and fresh as any of the bakeries in Watertown.
As an ode to these fabulous breads, I decided to recreate one of my very favorite Middle Eastern salads, the Fatoush salad. This is a fresh and easy bread salad that just screams out spring! By baking the Stonefire Pita pieces, this salad was lightened up even more than with traditional fried pita chips.
- 2 Stonefire Pita Pockets (cut into 1 inch square pieces)
- ¼ + ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 garlic cloves (chopped, keep separate)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (approx. 2 large lemons)
- 1 Tbsp olive juice (from jar of green olives)
- ⅓ head iceburg lettuce (chopped into 1 inch square pieces)
- 1 large vine ripe tomato (seeds removed, chopped into ½ inch pieces)
- ½ English cucumber (chopped into ½ inch pieces)
- ½ Green Bell Pepper (seeds removed, chopped into ½ inch pieces)
- ½ Red Bell Pepper (seeds removed, chopped into ½ inch pieces)
- 3 dill pickle spears (chopped into ½ inch pieces. I used P.O.E of NY kosher dills, and they were the PERFECT flavor. Grillo’s spicy dills would be another great alternative.)
- 2 green onions (chopped)
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Add one crushed garlic clove to ¼ cup olive oil
- Spread pita cubes in one layer on a cookie sheet or pizza stone
- When oven is done preheating, brush pita cubes with the olive oil mixture on one side
- Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper
- Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes, checking often so they don’t burn
- When pita begins to brown on the edges, flip all of the pita cubes and return to oven
- Cook for an addition 3-5 minutes, or until this side begins to brown
- Remove pita chips from oven to cool while remaining on tray
- Add the remaining crushed garlic clove to ⅓ cup oil (you may add any remaining oil/garlic from the pita chips)
- Add lemon and olive juice to oil mixture and whisk together, set dressing aside
- Add lettuce, tomato, cucumber, bell peppers, pickles and green onion to a mixing bowl
- Pour dressing over top and mix well
- Add salt and pepper to taste (I like this salad heavy on the pepper)
- Allow salad to marinate for at least an hour, and up to 24 hours
- When preparing to serve, you can do it one of two ways. Either mix the pita chips into the salad, so they start to become soggy and part of the salad, or dish up the salad and place the pita chips on top of each serving similar to croutons.
Disclaimer: Stonefire Flatbreads provided me with samples of their products free of charge. As always, all opinions are my own.
– Renee Hirschberg