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News / Life / Food

Beirut’s pita, chickpea breakfast tastes great all day

Published: June 30, 2021, 6:02am
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A recipe for chickpea salad with yogurt and mint.
A recipe for chickpea salad with yogurt and mint. (Milk Street) Photo Gallery

Our travels around the world have taught us many things, but one lesson is clear: Breakfast in one country makes a wonderful dinner in another.

In Beirut, chickpeas, yogurt, pita and tahini make a crunchy, velvety salad that’s good any time of day. This dish is known as fatteh in the Levant, where as breakfast it is intended to turn the previous day’s stale pita bread into a hearty meal.

In this recipe from our book “Milk Street Tuesday Nights,” which limits recipes to 45 minutes or less, we start with fresh pita. First, it’s brushed with butter, then crisped it in the oven. We then break it into shards before topping the pieces with warmed chickpeas. Yogurt spiked with garlic, tahini and lemon ties everything together.

Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend that usually includes sesame seeds, sumac, thyme and oregano, adds complex flavor. But the za’atar is optional; even without it, the salad is delicious and satisfying. If you like, instead of mint, use flat-leaf parsley or a combination.

Don’t cut back on the butter that’s tossed with the toasted pine nuts. It may seem like a lot, but the butter adds a sweetness that balances the tang of the yogurt and makes the dish taste full and deep.

Pita and Chickpea Salad With Yogurt and Mint (Fatteh)

Start to finish: 25 minutes. Servings: 4

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

¼ cup tahini

2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Two 8-inch pita breads, each split into 2 rounds

5 tablespoons salted butter, melted, divided

2½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided

¼ cup pine nuts

⅛ to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Two 15½-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1½ teaspoons za’atar, plus more to serve (optional)

1½ cups lightly packed fresh mint, torn if large

Heat the oven to 400 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, tahini, garlic, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.

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Arrange the pita on a rimmed baking sheet. Use 2 tablespoons of the butter to brush both sides of each round, then sprinkle evenly with 2 teaspoons of the cumin. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip each round and continue to bake until browned and crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool; reserve the baking sheet.

While the pita cools, distribute the pine nuts on the reserved baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Immediately transfer to a small bowl and toss with the remaining 3 tablespoons butter, remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, cayenne (if using) and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, toss the chickpeas with the za’atar (if using), 1 teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through. Meanwhile, break the pita into bite-size pieces and place in a wide, shallow serving bowl or divide among 4 individual bowls.

Using a slotted spoon, arrange the warmed chickpeas over the pita. Spoon on the yogurt mixture, top with mint and spoon on the pine nut-butter mixture. Sprinkle with additional za’atar (if using).