Introduction: Fatoush - a Zesty Middle-eastern Salad

Picture of Fatoush - a Zesty Middle-eastern Salad

This is a very well known salad dish, in the Middle-East, and is particularly associated with Egypt and the Lebanon. Its really easy to prepare, needing some coarse chopping and then mixing. The only thing is, it benefits from "marinading" in the lemon juice for an hour or so.

The final flourish, the addition of a spice called sumac is optional, but authentic. Our supply is Iranian sumac, bought in Tehran from THE most amazing spice shop, and supplied by really friendly people.

Step 1: Ingredients

Picture of Ingredients

4 tomatoes - a nice fresh sweet variety for preference.
1 cucumber
4 spring onions (scallions)
3 cloves of freshly crushed/ chopped garlic
Broad leaf parsley ( a good bunch)
Garden mint ( a couple of sprigs)
Juice of 2 lemons

3-4 pita breads

Sumac, if available.

Step 2: Preparation

Picture of Preparation

Into one bowl, throw all the ingredients
1.) Cut cucumber into 4 length-ways, chop into 6mm / 1/4" chunks.
2.) Chop tomato into similar slices, and chop into thumbnail sized pieces (don't bother peeling tomatoes, lifess too short)
3.) Chop scallions into short chunks
4. Chop garlic, or use a garlic press
5. ) Coarsely chop parsley, strip mint leaves off stalk, and chop and add to bowl.
7.) Juice 2 lemons (nuke 'em for 15 seconds first, to make 'em juicy) Pour over contents of bowl...

Mix  thoroughly, make sure the veggies are nicely covered with the lemon juice.

Put aside in refrigerator for an hour.

Step 3: Serving and Suggestions

Picture of Serving and Suggestions

Toast 3 or 4 pita breads and chop into bite sized pieces.
Just before serving, mix in pita bread

If you're familiar with sumac, add some sprinkling to the dish before serving - it adds a further lemony flavour which is very refreshing. Otherwise, serve sumac in a pepper shaker with the salad.

Serve and enjoy.
We're serving the salad in pitta bread, with sea-bass cooked with paprika and lime


SoranSo (author)2011-05-06

Seems to be delicious. Thanks for instructing.

husamwadi (author)2011-06-13

mmm fatoosh, every arabians salad.

Hey man, what about taboolah? thats amazing too, and in my opinion tastes better (I'm Palestinian so that probably explains it)

steveastrouk (author)husamwadi2011-06-14

What a brilliant idea ! I've eaten it, but not made it at home.

Thanks for the idea.


it is nothing compared to tabouli

sunshiine (author)2011-07-01

I am always searching for great recipes like this! Thank you so much for sharing your hard work!

umursengul (author)2011-06-25

Thanks for this Instructable! (I'm a Turk, and trying to loose some weight and it is not easy for an electronics engineering student-lots of sitting... So salads helping me :) )

garywpalmer (author)2011-06-16

I made a double batch of this last night and served it with my own Black Bean soup. We had my Father in-law over for dinner and he had no idea what was on the menu. Both items were a big hit. We had a very healthy dinner and it was delicious. I'm glad I made a double batch of your Fatoush because I'm actually having some for lunch right this very minute. Thank You for taking the time to share. This will be a keeper for me.

steveastrouk (author)garywpalmer2011-06-17

Glad you enjoyed it. I think its better in many ways, if you let it marinade in the lemon rarely gets the time in my house either !

marjorum (author)2011-06-16

Sumac is available at

thingy (author)2011-06-15

Staghorn sumac grows wild next to nearly every road east of the Missisippi.

I collect the flower heads when they are bright red and dry them. Shake the tiny berries out or crunch the flower heads with your hands to extract the seeds. They have a lemony flavor.

Another use is a kind of lemonade made by steeping the flower heads in hot water and adding a little honey. Very refreshing.

Make sure you wash the heads throughly as spiders and insects like to nest in the flower heads.

young skipper (author)2011-06-15

mmmmm fatoush. My grandma makes it sometimes but she really likes to make tabbouli.

robbs (author)2011-03-06

I guess the sumac gives it a different dimension, but the remaining ingredients, is nothing out of the norm. It almost looks like salsa. This dish looks easy and I'm definitely giving it a try!

kakungulu (author)2010-05-26

Being originally from the Middle East, I love this salad. It took me some time to get used to the American notion of "salad", which is almost synonymous to lettuce.
The problem of recreating this salad here in the states is not the sumac or lemon, it's the cucumbers. They are just not tasty and don't have the same consistency of a cucumber grown back in the old country.
Suggested alternatives:
1. Organic cucumbers - can be expensive but the smaller ones are better.
2. Smaller cucumbers - after cutting them length ways, carve out the seeds. Peeling them is not a bad idea.
3. Grow your own - don't keep watering them after the yellow flowers die. The good cucumbers can have residual yellow petals. I suspect they try to "pump up" the cucmbers here and that's why they so bad.
Thanks for the instructable and enjoy a great salad.

firefly68 (author)kakungulu2011-01-27

Kakungulu, What we call Armenian cucumbers (long, thin, usually curled up, with tiny seeds, and according to one of my gardening books actually a melon) are my favorite cukes to grow. They are also very easy and prolific, so I am always looking for something else to do with them. And with the tomatoes. Plus, sumac grows all over the place here. This dish is perfect for me--can't wait for summer to try it! Thanks Steve!

kakungulu (author)firefly682011-01-28

firefly68, If you like cucumbers, you can add Dzadziki (or Tsaziki) to the list. It's a Greek yogurt-based cucumber salad. It's very simple really: peel and cut the cucumbers, remove seeds if needed and chop to small cubes. Mix with yogurt and spice with dill and sea salt. Goes perfectly with icy Ouzo, Arak or Raki (all same to me) and a light TV show on a warm summer evening.

FrozenIce (author)kakungulu2011-03-01

did u know that if u told a Lebanese what Arak realy means, it means sweat :)

kakungulu (author)FrozenIce2011-03-01

I did not know that! Thank you.

FrozenIce (author)kakungulu2011-03-01

ya dont know what they where thinking when they invented it. Cheers

kakungulu (author)FrozenIce2011-03-01

WiKi Addict: It means "sweat" that is also used in Arabic for condensation, which makes more sense since it is a distilled drink. A basic distillery collects the condensation of alcohol fumes on a cold body. My Arabic is very basic, but in Hebrew we sometimes also call that phenomenon "sweat."

FrozenIce (author)2011-03-01

hi, ok so im Lebanese, i live in Lebanon, im twelve and my mom makes this salad very often, but your instructable has a flaw, you should cut the pita bread into small squares and fry it in oil and add it to the salad :)

and by the way "The Lebanon"?

P.S: you cant argue with a Lebanese!!!

got2bskilled (author)2010-05-25

Good Instructable!
I come from a Persian home... and lemon juice is the key to finish almost all stew type dishes. Many Iranians use dry lemons or limes and then drop it in while cooking. When I make American foods like chicken soup, I add a few teaspoons of lemon juice to the finished pot (then I let it sit for like 15 minutes), it really brings all the flavors together somehow. 

The west uses salt too often to bring flavors out...
Citris is much better.:-)

citrus is a nice change of pace for the west...

What about the Sumac element to it ? Is it important do you think ?


I am not sure. I have never had this dish ever. I dont think I have had too many dishes with sumac in it... I think it is used more in lamb/goat type things. My mom dislikes sumac.. so that might be why I dont have experience with it. If my grandmother used it, I would'nt know....  she makes her own spices and keeps them in umarked jars. She is a Persian tornado in the kitchen. You will find everything but the kitchen sink her dishes!LOL~
BUT- should you ever need to buy a spice and dont have an Iranian grocery around...or dont know what to call it... or need recipe ideas or tips in ENGLISH, your best source is

Everything from rice to spice~ Fenugrek , yummy! Not to mention Turkish coffee and a killer tea selection!

Happy eating! :-)

BossLadyWhite (author)2010-08-23

Looks awesome..I'm making it!Will let you know how it comes out!

Mehehehful (author)2010-06-01

 We had something like this for lunch at our school recently, It was really good. Thanks for posting!

paise (author)2010-05-30

BTW, even though the caterers (using the mother of the groom's recipe) turned this dish into appetizers, it was delicious! I would not mind making it myself to serve at home. Despite my love for my own ethnicity, I enjoy trying foods from various cultures and various time periods. It broadens the palate and the mind.

paise (author)2010-05-30

This salad was made into little appetizers at my niece's wedding. Her husband's family are Egyptian & follow many of their culture's traditions, which truly impressed me as I am Native American and do whatever is possible to include the customs of my ethnicity into everyday life as well as holidays and such no matter how much my English husband (oh my maternal great-grandmother & grandmother would be rolling over in their graves at the thought of their namesake having married a man whose primary & 98% ancestry is English) bellyaches. Although, he doesn't argue when there is piping hot flatbread coming out of the cast iron frying pan with lots of various cooked veggies to top it with as soon as it's cool enough to tear into pieces... LOL!

Devrimm (author)2010-05-25

Thank you for this delicious salad plate. Tonight, I proof to make the same too. For this salad " sumak " is very important isn't it?

steveastrouk (author)Devrimm2010-05-25

Hi Devrim.
The sumac isn't THAT important, though my Iranian and Egyptian friends might disagree. Its a fairly subtle taste I think.


bosherston (author)2010-05-25

I'll definately be making Fatoush in the near future, thanks for the 'ibble.

Tool Using Animal (author)2010-05-24

Sumac i available from Penzeys spices, I've never tried it, but it does have a very alluring smell on the shelf,

caitlinsdad (author)2010-05-24

Yum, I usually get this as a side to my lamb gyros at a Turkish take-out.  They throw in red chopped onions and call it Shepard's Salad.  Sometimes when I make it, I throw in some chopped red/green pepper.  By upping the ratio of parsley, you end up with tabouli salad, throw in some cracked wheat.  You do get a lot of juice after a day in the fridge, if there are leftovers.

ChrysN (author)2010-05-24

Looks delicious!

prettymom (author)2010-05-24

I make this salad all the time. I am of Turkish origin, and we make this Salad a lot in Summer. I have yet put sumac  or garlic in the salad. Very tasty and easy salad to make. Thanks for the post

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Bio: I'm an Engineer, who originally inherited the family business (Thanks Dad (RIP JC Taylor, 1938-2011)) after working in it for 25 years, designing and ... More »
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