Buttermilk Fattoush
4 to 6 servings
Adapted from Falastin: A Cookbook by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley If decent tomatoes aren’t available, substitute 2 cups (380g) of halved or quartered cherry tomatoes. I don’t advise overdraining the cucumbers with salt in step #2 as they can get soggy. It’s a step they don’t do in the book, but I like to do it to get rid of some of the excess water. I supposed if you’re serving the salad right away, it’s not necessary, although it’s a habit of mine to do it. Fattoush often uses stale or day-old bread, which often isn’t as crisp as bread that’s lightly oven-toasted. To make the toasted bread, put the flatbreads directly on the rack of a moderate oven (about 350ºF/180ºC) for a few minutes to dry them out. For making the salad ahead of time, you can prepare most of the ingredients in advance; dress the sumac onions, put all the chopped ingredients (except the bread) in a large bowl, and mix up the dressing separately. Then toss everything together just before serving.
For the sumac onions
1 medium onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a bit more if necessary
1 1/2 teaspoons sumac
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
For the salad
3 small Persian cucumbers, peeled and diced in 1/2-inch (1.5cm) pieces
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt for the cucumbers, plus 1 1/4 teaspoons for seasoning the salad
3 large tomatoes, diced in 1/2-inch (1.5cm) pieces
12 radishes, sliced
1 cup (20g) packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1 cup (20g) packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 large toasted or stale flatbreads, such as pita (see headnote), crumbled
1 1/4 cups (300ml) buttermilk
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons cider or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sumac, plus 1/2 teaspoon for serving
freshly-ground black pepper
1. To make the sumac onions, in a small bowl mix the onions with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac, and salt. If the onions seem a little dry, add a touch more olive oil until they are glistening. Set aside.
2. Put the diced cucumbers in a strainer or colander, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and let stand over a bowl for about 10 to 15 minutes, to drain away some of the liquid. (Don’t let them sit too long, though, as you don’t want them to get soggy.)
3. Put the tomatoes, radishes, mint, parsley, thyme, and crumbled flatbread in a large bowl. Blot the drained cucumbers with a paper or kitchen towel, then add them along with the buttermilk, 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons sumac, half the sumac onions, and several good grinds of black pepper.
4. Mix everything together then transfer to a serving platter. Strew the remaining sumac onions over the salad, drizzle with a little extra olive oil, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sumac. Serve immediately.

Note: This recipe makes about four servings as a main course, six servings as a side salad.