Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homemade Pita Bread and Greek Salad

How does a pita get it's pocket? This is no riddle, and it's even something you can create on your own. Even before I went to Jerusalem my mom made homemade pita bread, and now, after I've been to Jerusalem where I ate pita nearly every day I've learned to make it myself. It's become quite a hit in my apartment. I usually make Greek salad to go with it, making the cutest pita sandwiches that even so-called vegetable-hating carnivores will probably like. Here are the recipes:

Pita Bread
5 cups bread flour
4 tsp salt
2 tbls sugar
4 tsp active dry yeast
4 tbls good olive oil
2 cups warm water (105-110 degrees)
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour with the salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the oil and water. Beat vigorously with a wooden spoon for three minutes, then stir in the rest of the flour ½ cup at a time. The dough should be a rough, shaggy mass that will clean the sides of the bowl. If the dough is moist, add a small amount of additional flour.
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 6 minutes.
Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Roll into balls, dust lightly with flour, and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Use the palm of your hand to flatten each ball into a disk. Finish with a rolling pin, flattening the dough into a disk about 6 inches in diameter and ¼ inch thick. Their thinness is more important than making them perfectly round. Irregularity adds charm.
Place each round on a square of foil, and carefully place 3 or four of the rounds directly on the oven rack (not on a pan). Bake 4-5 minutes, or until they are puffed.
When you remove them from the oven, stack them up and put them immediately into a plastic bag and seal it. This keeps the dough soft while the tops fall, leaving the pocket in the center!

Greek Salad!
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/4 cups chopped tomatoes
1 cup diced seeded peeled cucumber
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped radishes
1/2 cup chopped fresh italian parsley (cilantro)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 8-inch-diameter whole wheat pitas, halved
Whisk olive oil and red wine vinegar in large bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Mix tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, radishes, parsely and dressing. Sitr in feta cheese. Keeps in the fridge for a long time.

Hummus is also the perfect partner. Click here for a great recipe.  Also, in Jerusalem we couldn't live without this on our pita.

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