Lebanese Fattoush Salad is a traditional Middle Eastern salad made with low-carb crispy tortillas, seasonal fruit and vegetables and bright herbs tossed with a zesty low-fodmap lemon and sumac salad dressing. It's a delicious low-carb salad that is easily modified for the autoimmune protocol (AIP).
This Easy Lebanese Fattoush Salad is in my top three favorite salads. Every time I go out for Lebanese food (at one of my favorite restaurants here, in Portland, Al Amir), I always order fattoush in addition to their amazing mezze. It complements all of the divine, flavorful Mediterranean dishes that arrive at our table and I look forward to sharing those phenomenal meals in the company of good friends (as well as a round of their Spanish coffees at the end…).
I don't eat a lot of gluten, but I've found that keeping some low carb torillas or flatbread around is great for a treat now and then. They're especially good for replacing pita bread in this recipe.
If you do eat a gluten-free diet, and want to keep this a low-FODMAP salad, there are many options to replace the pita bread or low-carb tortillas, which I discuss, momentarily!
This delicious low-carb salad can also be easily modified for the autoimmune protocol (AIP)!
What is Fattoush?
Fattoush is a popular dish in Middle-Eastern (and Mediterranean) cuisine. Even though there are many variations, fattoush contains a few signature ingredients that are common among all recipes: pita slices (or scraps), fresh garden vegetables, herbs, sumac and a bright, lemony dressing.
Fattoush is essentially 'fried bread salad' and is believed to have originated in Lebanon. In Arabic, 'fattoush' is derived from the word "fatteh", which literally means "crumbs". Ingredients will vary depending on the season, which accounts for several versions of this recipe throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean.
It's so easy to make fattoush a seasonal, everyday salad. The base recipe is so versatile, you can essentially add any fruits or vegetables – whatever suits your fancy! This can be kept as a vegetarian salad or topped with a protein of your choice. You can even be a total salad rebel and make your fattoush with kale instead of lettuce. Paired with the warming herbs in this Lebanese salad dressing, it makes for a hearty winter salad.
Traditionally, fattoush is tossed with a simple lemon dressing and mint. This combination produces such a beautiful flavor – it’s refreshing and savory all at the same time. If you don't have any lemon around, it can easily be replaced with lime juice.
Is it fattoush, fatoosh or fatush?
There appear to be many spellings for this Lebanese salad, but all are pronounced the same: ‘fuh-toosh’. The correct spelling is actually ‘fattoush’.
Typical salad ingredients
There are no rules when it comes to what vegetables you can use, but there are a handful of ingredients you’ll find in a more traditional fattoush:
- Lettuce – Use romaine, iceberg, spring greens or even spinach.
- Parsley – Finely chopped, it adds a fresh, vibrant flavor. It’s also packed full of nutrients!
- Mint – Adds a refreshing level of complexity.
- Tomatoes – Are commonly found in fattoush salads. Most often you’ll find larger varieties such as vine tomatoes or beefsteak, but I enjoy using grape or cherry tomatoes. Omit these if you’re following AIP.
- Radishes – Add a spicy, peppery, crisp flavor.
- Green onions – These add a milder onion flavor and are perfect for a low-FODMAP salad. You can also use red or white onion if you prefer.
- Cucumbers – Are commonly found in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean salads. English or Persian cucumbers are best.
Salad dressing ingredients
Fattoush dressing is a zesty vinaigrette made with sumac, which gives it a distinct and complex flavor.
Traditionally, fattoush dressing contains pomegranate molasses, which is fruity, rich and sweet, but is also high in carbs. Since pomegranate molasses isn’t a keto or low-carb friendly ingredient, I add a couple of extra spices that aren’t used in a more traditional fattoush dressing, but give it that zingy flavor that is a hallmark of this salad dressing.
- Extra virgin olive oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. A high quality oil will provide a slightly peppery and fruity flavor. I typically opt for an oil that is in a darker glass or metal container. Exposure to light and heat can cause the oil to become rancid.
- Vinegar – I like to use champagne vinegar because it has a light and fruity flavor, but white wine or apple cider vinegar can also be used.
- Juice of half a lemon – Or use the juice of 1 whole lime. If you like more of a lemony flavor, add some lemon zest in addition to the lemon juice.
- Spices – Sumac, black pepper, cinnamon and mace or allspice. I enjoy the strong flavor of mace, but allspice is absolutely wonderful, as well.
- Sweetener of choice – I like to use stevia, but feel free to add a touch of whichever sweetener you prefer.
What is sumac?
Sumac is a spice that is common in Middle Eastern recipes. It has a bright red color and a tart flavor similar to lemon, but not quite as sour. Sumac brings out the natural flavors in foods it’s cooked with, similar to salt. Its taste is sour and slightly sweet, with an astringent punch.
The name 'sumac' comes from the Aramaic word ‘summaq’, which means ‘dark red’. The berries of the Rhus Coriaria (sumac) shrub are bright red when picked and darken as they are dried and ground. They are turned into a powder and sold as ground sumac, but you can also find the berries available whole.
Sumac is typically grown in the high plateau areas of the Mediterranean, Turkey and Iran. Before lemons were introduced to the Mediterranean and Middle East, sumac was used to add an acidic tang to dishes.
What is a substitute for sumac?
If you don’t have sumac and can’t find any at your local market (where it’s usually available), lemon zest, tamarind paste and even sugar-free raspberry jam can be used in its place. It will change the color of the dressing, but the flavors of tamarind or raspberry jam are just unreal in this dressing. You might find that you just want to add them, regardless!
The middle eastern spice blend za'atar can be used as an alternative because it contains sumac. It is also found with other spices from around the world in many well-stocked supermarkets.
How to make Fattoush salad
I always think it's a good idea to make the salad dressing first. When your salad is finished, your dressing is ready!
- Make the dressing – whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl or shake in a mason jar until thoroughly combined. You can make the dressing in a blender or food processor, which helps to emulsify the ingredients and keep them from separating.
- Chop ingredients small enough so every bite is covered in the delicious dressing.
- Cut the tortilla or pita bread into desired shapes (square, triangles or strips), toss in olive oil and fry on medium heat until just browned and crispy.
- Combine the veggies together in a large bowl and add the crispy low carb pita tortilla chips. Drizzle with the lemon dressing and toss.
- Serve – Garnish with freshly ground pepper and an additional sprinkle of sumac.
How to make an AIP fattoush
This recipe for fattoush salad can easily modified for AIP. Simply omit the black pepper and sumac in the salad dressing and skip the tomatoes.
What to use in place of sumac for an AIP salad? Add some lemon zest, pomegranate molasses (which is a traditional ingredient, just not low carb) or a touch of tamarind paste. Any of these substitutions will add that extra tart, bright flavor that is typically achieved by using sumac.
What to use instead of low carb bread
Even though fattoush is referred to as a ‘bread salad’, it definitely doesn’t need to contain bread to be phenomenal. There are delicious alternatives to add that satisfying crunch:
- Crumbled pork rinds
- Nuts: try my Sugar-free Candied Pecans (my favorite sub), pine nuts, slivered almonds or walnuts
- Gluten-free croutons or toasted gluten-free tortilla strips from gluten-free almond flour tortillas
- Crispy bacon (because bacon goes with everything)
Add-ins to customize your salad
- Cheese – feta, parmesan, or even a salty dry cheese such as cotija
- Protein of choice – this salad is savory enough to stand up to any protein you want to add: chicken, beef, spiced lamb or shrimp
- Nuts - If you want some extra crunch, add your favorite nuts – candied nuts or toasted pine nuts are my favorites
- Herbs - Try adding chives, edible flowers, fresh thyme, savory or roasted garlic (omit for low-FODMAP)
- Fruit, vegetables and berries - Add whatever vegetables or fruits that suit your fancy! Bell peppers, carrots, strawberries or Asian pears would be absolute perfection.
What to serve with fattoush
Fattoush is such a versatile salad, it can be served with pretty much anything. Serve alongside meat, poultry, seafood (try with my Indian Spiced Salmon) or soups. Or, customize with some add-ins and create a stand-alone dinner salad.
Of course! Preheat the oven to 350F, toss the strips in oil and bake for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Bake in the air fryer at the same temperature for the same amount of time.
Yes! Combine the salad ingredients, make the dressing and crisp the tortilla strips. Then dress the salad right before serving. If the salad is dressed too far ahead of serving, the acidic dressing will wilt the leafy greens and won't keep well overnight.
Sure, if you want to! Give them a sprinkle of salt, pepper, za'atar or sumac before frying or baking.
If you make this Fattoush Salad, please leave a comment and let me know! I'd love to hear how you liked it! Enjoy!
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it by commenting!
Other recipes you might like
- Kale BLT Salad
- Mediterranean Stir Fry with Skordalia
- Keto 'Corned' Beef Meatballs
- Stuffed Balsamic Portobello Mushrooms
- Indian Spiced Salmon
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Lebanese Fattoush Salad Recipe
For the salad
- 1 large head of romaine lettuce (chopped)
- 1 cucumber (medium - sliced)
- 2 green onions (chopped)
- ¼ cup parsley (finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons mint (chopped)
- 5 radishes (sliced)
- 12 cherry tomatoes (sliced in half, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped)
- 2 low carb tortillas (sliced into pieces)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Sumac (for garnish)
For the dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil (extra virgin)
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar (white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will work well, too)
- ½ lemon (Juice only - or juice of 1 whole lime)
- 1 teaspoon sumac
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch mace (or allspice - either is delicious, but I prefer mace)
- 1 tablespoon stevia (optional - use sweetener of choice)
Make the Tortilla chips
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
- When oil is hot, add the tortilla pieces and cook for about 5 minutes, flipping often. Toast until they're crisp and slightly browned.
For the salad
- In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, green onion, parsley, mint, tomatoes, and radish and toss.
For the dressing
- Dress the salad with the dressing and toss. Add the crisped tortilla chips and toss again.
- Plate the salads and garnish with a sprinkle of sumac. Enjoy!
Optional add-insFeel free to add whatever vegetables or herbs you like. I enjoy adding chive flowers, thyme, garlic, peppers, nuts (think candied pecans or walnuts!), micro greens, olives or even berries. The addition of sweetener is completely optional. Traditionally, the dressing is slightly sweetened with pomegranate molasses, but it's delicious without any sweetener. Nutritional values will vary depending on additional veggies you use, should you choose to add more or substitute any in the recipe.
*Net carbs = carbohydrates - fiber
Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools and does not include optional ingredients unless otherwise indicated.