1. A Saturday morning in Los Angeles. Sunshine. More sunshine. A farmers market — maybe Santa Monica, maybe Hollywood or Pasadena.
2. Fill a huge market bag with these things: tiny ripe heirloom tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, bunches of parsley and mint, pink breakfast radishes, salad greens — maiche, purslane, arugula, romaine, whatever looks best.
3. Then go home. Break up some stale pita bread — left out from last night’s dinner, or forgotten in the back of the refrigerator — and toast it with your own morning toast. Why? You’re making fattoush, a Middle Eastern bread salad. (“Fatta” means torn to pieces, which is a great thing to tell your kid when you ask her to help you do this.) Fill your cup of coffee while the tomatoes warm in the sun.
4. Find the biggest bowl you can. Whisk together the dressing (lots of sumac, Aleppo pepper and garlic, and use the best olive oil you have), then chop up and drop in the vegetables that were at those farmers’ stands just an hour ago. (Remember the story a friend told you about her Iraqi family fighting in the kitchen over fattoush recipes. Too much lemon, not enough spices and garlic. Yelling, tears.)
5. Load the bowl with greenery, toss in the crisp bits of bread. Add more garlic? Maybe so. (Other things you can add: garbanzo beans, feta cheese, bell peppers, avocados.) Mix everything together with a pair of kitchen tongs or your hands, and spill the whole salad onto a sheet pan.
6. Hand your kid a cup of mint tea and two forks, and go outside. Eat lunch from the pan, just the two of you.