Alhambra Inspired Chargrilled Nectarine Fattoush Salad

22 Jul

The Washer Up’s dad came to stay for a few days and we decided to take him to the Alhambra in Granada.

In 40 degree heat.

 Alhambra translates as The Red Fortress. Its palaces were built in the middle of the 14th century for the last Moorish kings of Spain and their court.  It is a World Heritage site and a unique and beautiful example of Muslim art and architecture.

The majority of the palace buildings are built in the same style, with all the rooms opening out on to a central courtyard.

The Alhambra was extended by the different Muslim rulers who lived there but each new section followed the theme of “Paradise on Earth” by using column arcades, elaborately decorated archways, fountains with running water and reflecting pools.

Blue, red and a golden-yellow, all somewhat faded with time are the main colours used for tiles and decoration.

 The Alhambra was made into a  city, complete with an irrigation system composed of acequias (water channels) for the gardens of the Generalife located outside the fortress.  These acequias are still used today throughout Andalucia for irrigation.

 Generalife means Gardens of the Architect. The Palacio de Generalife is a villa dating from the beginning of the 14th century. Whilst fountains and flowing water are a common feature around the Alhambra, they are particularly prevalent in the Palacio de Generalife.

The gardens of Generalife were definitely my favourite part of the Alhambra. It may have something to do with all the running water cooling the air and the shade created by the trees. The flowers were beautiful too.

You can actually imagine Arabian princesses running around giggling and hiding behind trees from handsome princes. As you can probably tell I read a book before going: Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving. 

It was published in 1832 and immediately attracted pilgrims to Granada from all over the world. He was an American diplomat, historian & traveller who actually lived in the Alhambra for a while.

It paints a romantic, colourful impression of local legends and traditions as well as telling enchanting tales of Moorish  princesses, towers, love and war. I would definitely recommend reading it if you are thinking of visiting or are interested in the history of Moorish Spain.

The picture below is of the Washer Up’s dad, Jim Burns. He is a published poet and writer and a recognised authority on 1930’s -1950’s Beats & Bebop Jazz. He is also an expert on the Spanish Civil War and 19th Century European art and history.

He is 75 and fared better than us on this exceedingly long, hot day. We walked around the Alhambra for around 6 hours in the blazing sun.

He didn’t even fall asleep in the car on the way home. We were listening to Miles Davies though.

Like father like son. The Washer Up loves his music too. He’s more into early punk than jazz but his dad bought him the first Sex Pistols record Anarchy in the UK when it was released in 1976. He was 13.

Fattoush is a Middle Eastern salad made with toasted or fried pieces of pita bread, fresh herbs and seasonal vegetables. Fattoush belongs to the family of dishes known as fatta which means crushed. Stale flatbreads are used up by crushing or crumbling them into the dish, a lot like the Italian Panzanella salad. 

This is a salad we served at the restaurant. Instead of using stale pita we cut soft flour tortillas into triangles, deep-fried them and sprinkled them with sumac and cumin while still warm. This way you get crispy, spicy crackers to eat with your salad and it also makes for a more dramatic presentation. You just arrange them pointy side up around the serving bowl.

They are also great for dipping in hummus.

The basic ingredients for a fattoush salad are: salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, radish, mint, parsley, sumac, fried bread, olive oil and lemon juice.

With that as your starting point you can add whatever else you like: feta, olives, dates, peppers, garlic, pomegranate seeds, the list goes on….

I like to add a little sweetness to counteract the sour lemon juice and sumac. Chopped dates are lovely but I had a fruit bowl full of gorgeous looking nectarines just desperate to be included.

I remembered seeing a recipe in the Ottolenghi Cookbook (I know, I’m obsessed) for a chargrilled peach salad with speck and orange blossom.  I didn’t need any more encouragement than that. Any excuse too use my new griddle pan and I’m happy.

Chargrilled Nectarine Fattoush Salad

serves 2, vegan

  • 2 nectarines, stoned & sliced into wedges (not too soft, firm but ripe is best for grilling)
  • 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • the juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 tsp finely chopped preserved lemon rind (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 big beef tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved, deseeded & cubed
  • 2 spring onions (or half a Spanish spring onion), sliced diagonally
  • 2 or 3 radishes, thinly sliced (I didn’t have any)
  • 1 bag mixed salad leaves, or a mixture of rocket and cos lettuce, chopped
  • a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 5 or 6 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water (optional)
  • 1 soft flour tortilla, cut into eighths (or some stale pita, torn into pieces)
  • sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • sumac & cumin for sprinkling
  • salt & black pepper

 Toss the nectarine wedges with some olive oil, salt & pepper in a bowl. Heat up your griddle pan and cook the nectarines for a minute or so on each side until they get some nice charcoal lines all over. Remove to a bowl and cook the rest, if necessary then sprinkle over the orange blossom water and leave to cool.

Heat the sunflower oil in a wok or deep frying pan over a medium high heat. You can tell when it’s hot enough by sticking a corner of tortilla in and seeing if it sizzles. Carefully put the tortilla triangles (2 batches will be best you don’t want to overcrowd the pan) into the hot oil and cook for 10-20 seconds or until they are a golden colour. Be careful they burn quickly.

Remove to a bowl lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle over some salt, cumin and sumac. Do the same with the rest and leave to cool. Once cooled they can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.

Put the garlic, salt, lemon juice, preserved lemon and olive oil into a large bowl with the tomatoes, sumac and cumin and stir together well.

Just before serving add the cucumber, spring onions, radishes, salad leaves, fresh herbs and any other ingredients (except the nectarines) to the bowl and toss everything together. Check for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Either serve in one big bowl/ serving dish or in individual dishes. Arrange the chargrilled nectarines on top and place the tortilla crackers around the edge of the plate so it looks like a crown. Sprinkle over a little sumac and take to the table.

It’s a royal looking salad fit for the last Moorish King of Spain.

A word of advice, if you are thinking about going to the Alhambra, I wouldn’t recommend going in the summer, May or October would be nice. I’ll try and remember that next time!

29 Responses to “Alhambra Inspired Chargrilled Nectarine Fattoush Salad”

  1. Adora's Box July 22, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Beautiful photographs! Alhambra is indeed breathtaking. I love the architecture. Love the colourful salad, too. I love fruits in salad. The dates in salad sounds nice.

  2. Kelly July 22, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    Such gorgeous pictures and that salad looks delicious!🙂

  3. Miriam/El invitado de invierno July 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I never knew any father in law capable of buying Anarchy in the UK to his 13 year old son… truly remarkable😉

  4. Hannah (BitterSweet) July 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm #

    Such a colorful, lovely salad! The seasoning sounds incredible, and I love how crunchy those chips look. So much better than your average leafy salad.🙂

  5. peasepudding July 22, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    What a beautiful place, I’ll have to add it to my long list of ‘places to visit when next in Europe’. I bet you just wanted to dive into those fountains in that heat. The salad looks very tasty band I love ingredients.

  6. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide July 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm #

    If I have my conversions right, it’s as hot there as it is here. We call it 100 and above temps.:) Great pictures and the fruit really makes the salad. Great recipe.

  7. chicaandaluza July 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Stunning photos (how did you get so many great pics with no crowds?!) and a stunning recipe. Your Father In Law sounds like a very remarkable man! You are a brave (or mad) woman to go to the Alhambra in this hear…mind you, I´ve done the same with visiting guests!

  8. Visda July 22, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    wonderful pictures of Alhambra. I have been several times to Spain but never in your area. I’m sure the quality of Machega you get in much better than what we have in San Francisco.:-)
    What a gorgeous salad and so perfect for summer. I never put sumac in salad before, usually put it on grilled meat but I can totally imagine how it can give flavor to this salad. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

  9. Saveur July 23, 2011 at 12:27 am #

    Wow – Alhambra sounds incredible… and this salad, gorgeous! Charrilling peaches sounds like a great idea for a salad, or anytime, really! Glad I now have a BBQ.🙂

  10. Maris (In Good Taste) July 23, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Absolutely gorgeous pictures, including the salad!

  11. Marmande July 23, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    Such beautiful pictures of the Alhambra! Too bad it was so hot – it’s really hot by me too. Love the idea of a grilled nectarine salad – sounds so summery!

  12. happywhennothungry July 23, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    What a beautiful post!!! I went to the Alhambra about 5 years ago and these photos bring back such wonderful memories! This salad looks fabulous. I’ve never tried grilling nectarines either. Such creative and beautiful dishes you always have!!!

  13. E July 23, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    oh my goodness… the Alhambra and the salad both look divine! Someday, I hope to experience both🙂

  14. Liz July 23, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    Such a gorgeous salad! The nectarines are a delicious addition! And what fabulous photos…I think we’re experiencing the same stifling heat in Indiana~

  15. tony ward July 23, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Lovely post princess, que memorias !! I think you should stick to Mills and Boone for your romantic inspirations in future.
    I can imagine that a lot of Spanish Queens might like the food too ~~
    Are the nectarines easy to work with, I can’t imagine any other way to eat them than fresh out of the ‘wrapper’..great combination of flavours, as always.

    • foodblogandthedog July 23, 2011 at 11:41 am #

      Sorry I forgot about the queens, how could I! The nectarines are great to cook as long as they’re not too soft (they stick to the pan) and you don’t have to peel them!

  16. jacquelincangro July 23, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    I so enjoyed your photos of your trip to the Alhambra. I have never been and am now inspired to put it on my list of must-see places. The carvings are so ornate and the tiles are lovely.
    This salad looks like something I will try. Would you also include chickpeas as well?

  17. Angie's Recipes July 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm #

    A very summery and beautiful salad! Thank you for sharing those amazing photos too.

  18. Tes July 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    These pictures are so amazing🙂 Thanks for sharing them… and the salad look so fresh and beautiful🙂

  19. veggiegrettie July 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    When we visited Spain the Alhambra was the only site I absolutely INSISTED on seeing. I could spend days wandering through the grounds. Thanks for bringing me back through the pictures🙂

    Your salad is gorgeous!

  20. tiffany July 24, 2011 at 4:38 am #

    The mint and grilled nectarines sounds MAGICAL!

  21. Tori @ The Shiksa in the Kitchen July 24, 2011 at 5:41 am #

    Natalie your nectarine salad is so gorgeous! I love all the ingredients, especially the orange blossom water. And those pictures of the Alhambra are wonderful. What a lovely blog you have!

  22. Medeja July 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    What a wonderful place! I would like to see something like that!

    And really wonderful salad, salad with nectarine is something new to me🙂

  23. Tammy July 25, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    I haven’t been to the Alhambra for 15 years! Thanks for sharing these lovely photos. Your salad looks lovely also.

  24. Serena July 25, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    You’ve got incredible photos! I’m going to make this tomorrow with hummus. I used to live in front of the Alhambra, our rooftop terrace looked right over the Alhambra. You could say our baby was born in the shadow of the Alhambra haha!

  25. Beth Michelle August 20, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    I am having a great time catching up on your blog today, each recipe looks better then the last!!! I have eaten this salad many times but have never made it myself, I love your version of it!

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  1. Spiced Cauliflower and Red Onion Savoury Picnic Cake « Cook Eat Live Vegetarian - April 23, 2012

    […] Ottolenghi is another one of my obsessions, I love his food and find it endlessly inspiring. See this post and this one for proof of his influence over my […]

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