This is based on fattoush, the popular salad enjoyed in the Lebanon and Syria, and it makes a satisfying main dish. It's important to grill the pitta bread until it is really crisp and golden or it will quickly become soggy when mixed with the other ingredients. The dressing adds the distinctive flavours of olives, anchovy and garlic.
Instead of toasted pitta bread, try polenta croutons. Bring 750 ml (1¼ pints) vegetable stock to the boil and add 170 g (6 oz) instant polenta, stirring. Cook for 4–5 minutes, or according to packet instructions, until the mixture is thick and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Stir in 15 g (½ oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp chopped fresh coriander, and season to taste. Quickly spread the polenta in a greased 18 x 28 cm (7 x 11 in) shallow tin and leave to cool for about 30 minutes or until set. Then turn out and cut into 1 cm (½ in) cubes. Spread out the croutons on foil in a grill pan and toast under a preheated moderate grill for 5–8 minutes, turning several times. Add most of the croutons to the salad and toss. Scatter over the remaining few croutons and serve. * Make a chickpea and aubergine salad. Cut a 340 g (12 oz) aubergine into 1 cm (½ in) cubes and fry in 2 tbsp olive oil for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tsp cumin seeds and continue to cook until the aubergine is lightly browned and tender. Tip into a bowl and mix with 2 cans chickpeas, about 410 g each, drained and rinsed, 1 thinly sliced red onion, 170 g (6 oz) baby spinach leaves and 1 seeded and thinly sliced yellow pepper. For the dressing, whisk together 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander and pepper to taste.
Although olives have a relatively high fat content, it is mainly unsaturated fat, which is considered to be the healthiest kind of fat to include in the diet. * Chickpeas are an excellent choice for people with diabetes because of their very low Glycaemic Index.
Excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin E. Good source of copper, iron, niacin, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B1, zinc. Useful source of calcium, folate, vitamin B6.