Grilled pita salad and tangy kabobs is the perfect summer meal from the grill. It's my take on the Middle Eastern bread salad Fattoush, with pops of cumin, sweet dates and lemony sumac.
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Give me bread and you make me happy. That's the quote I like to live by (a quote from yours truly by the way)! So, when you say salad, I say "add bread!" I've long loved the Italian bread salad called Panzanella. Bites of crusty bread tossed with tomatoes, other veggies and dressing. The bread soaks up the tomato juices and vinaigrette, and makes the salad more filling, and of course delicious.
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The Middle Eastern version of bread salad is called Fattoush. Instead of using a crusty Italian loaf, pitas take that place and create another type of filling salad. I added tangy chicken kabobs to this recipe so you'll have an entire summer meal. I have to twist my own arm to eat a bowl of greens, so fun salad recipes are the way to my heart...I mean health.
Panzanella, that yummy salad I mentioned earlier, originated from the Italian tradition of using stale bread so it wouldn't go to waste. Fattoush is the same idea. It's derived from the arabic word for crumble. They would literally just crumble leftover pita on to their salad and let it soak up the vinaigrette goodness. So great that two different parts of the world both created meals so that they could eat all the bread! Definitely my kind of people.
I packed this grilled pita salad with almonds, sweet dates and savory onions, along with a flavorful dressing. Cumin, sesame and of course sumac are key spices to this recipe as well. Sumac is a tangy and citrusy type of spice that comes from the Middle East. If you're dying to make this recipe but can't find any sumac, try using some lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Chicken takes on flavor well. This marinade is deliciously acidic with the lemon juice but the sweet and spice from the cumin, red pepper and honey balance out to a tasty flavor combination.
This recipe calls for chicken thighs. Does it really matter if you use chicken thighs vs chicken breasts? Yes! Sometimes as you grill chicken breasts they dry out. Thighs are a dark meat, therefore rich and tender. This makes them fantastic for grilling and helps them keep their flavor and moisture.
I packed this grilled pita salad with almonds, sweet dates and savory almonds to go with lemon chicken kabobs.
Turning the chicken into kabobs not only makes it crowd friendly, but also helps the chicken grill so nicely! Check out my other delicious chicken, pork and lamb kabob recipes for more inspiration as well as tricks for using bamboo skewers on the grill!
While I don't suggest using stale or old pita bread, you still want to get a good crisp texture in your salad. Grilling your pita bread is an important step. While it will soften in the salad, the grilling gives it a nice crunch along with adding a smokiness to the bread and to every bite of the salad.
This grilled pita salad with almonds is the perfect grilling meal and puts a twist on those chicken recipes for the summer! And why spend the extra time making side dishes when instead you could make coconut mango pie? Zero guilt needed because you just ate a salad. Treat yourself!
I spiced up the dressing with ground sumac, which has a lovely tart flavor and a citrus aroma.
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 rounds pita bread
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for pita
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp honey
- ½ cup chopped dates
- ½ cup chopped toasted almonds
- 1 tsp sumac (or 1/2 tsp lemon zest)
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 6 cups (5oz) baby spinach
- ⅓ cup sliced red onion
Make chicken skewers: In a medium bowl mix lemon juice, honey, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes and 1/4 cup olive oil. Cut chicken into large pieces and add to the lemon mixture. Chill 1 hr. Thread chicken onto skewers and grill over medium-high heat until just cooked through, about 8 min.
While chicken marinates brush pitas with extra oil and grill, toasting well on both sides. Tear into pieces; set aside.
Make dressing: Whisk together the 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, honey, dates, almonds, sumac, red pepper flakes, cumin, sesame seeds and salt; set aside until ready to serve salad.
Combine spinach, red onion and grilled pita and toss with some of the date and almond dressing. Serve with chicken skewers and put remaining dressing on the side.
The Middle Eastern version of bread salad is called Fattoush. Instead of using a crusty Italian loaf, pitas take that place and create another type of filling salad. I added tangy chicken kabobs to this recipe so you'll have an entire summer meal.
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Check out these other sites for Middle Eastern recipe inspiration:
Recipe by Tara. Photography William Brinson. Food Styling Adrienne Anderson. Prop Styling Sara Cave. Originally published LHJ July/Aug '13.