Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fun With Pita Bread

Pita bread is a staple of Greek and Middle-Eastern cuisine. It's a very versatile bread that can be used for dipping, wrapping or as a “pocket” for various fillings. It's a really good way eat savory meats and cheeses without having to worry about silverware or making a mess. You can find them in the deli/bakery section of pretty much any grocery store in quite a few varieties-white, whole wheat, garlic, sun-dried tomato, spinach and several others I can't think of right now. Most of the time I've seen the latter two it's been used as a wrap, but it's such a versatile bread that you can use it for pretty much anything you can think of.

One of my favorite pita sandwiches is the gyro. Gyro (pronounced YEE-row) meat is a mix of beef and lamb that can be found in many grocery stores, although it *does* take a bit of looking. Most gyro wraps I've had include lettuce, tomato and onions, but they can come plain. If you want pita-style bread with a different kind of meat, you could also use Steak-Ummms or another Philly-style sandwich steak. Just add provolone cheese, sauteed onions and peppers and perhaps some mayonnaise or tzaziki sauce and you've got yourself a great and relatively-easy lunch.

This is an artisan-esque recipe I found that sounds great if you want something different.
Spicy And Sweet Curry Pita-serves 4
4 pitas
8 watercress or lettuce leaves
4 1/4" thick slices turkey or chicken breast
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup yogurt, plain
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1/4 cup celery, chopped
1 1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt, to taste

Cut the turkey into bite-sized chunks. Using medium heat, toast curry powder in a small skillet for about 20 seconds. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and cranberries. Then, add the meat, scallions and celery. Stir in the curry, walnuts and salt until well-blended.
Now, cut each pita in half. Place a leaf in each of the 8 pockets and distribute the meat mixture evenly.
Variations: if you'd like, you can leave out the nuts. Depending on how big your pita pockets are, you could also mix in diced tomatoes and/or raisins. Add fries or potato chips and you have a nice lunch.

If you're the type of person who likes soup with their sandwiches, here's a way to make a bread bowl for soups, sauces or dips.
Basically, find a round loaf of bread like sourdough or Italian bread. Preheat your oven to 350 F and cut about 1/4” to 1/2” off of the top of the bread with a serrated knife. You can cut more or less depending on the size of your loaf. Pick the bread out from the middle of the loaf, making a bowl with about 1 1/2” around all sides.
Take a basting brush and brush olive oil onto the insides of the bowl, creating a sort of seal so the soup or whatever else you put in the bowl won't leak. Then, bake on a baking sheet until golden on the inside, about 15 minutes. Now it is ready for any sort of liquid, although it will also make a great salad bowl.
Enjoy yourself!

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