Friday, September 18, 2009

Pitas, Roasted Eggplant and Yogurt with Paprika and Dill

It is hard to cook when you don't feel well. I have had a nasty little virus this last week and it sat on all of my ambition and typical adventurous spirit I have for cooking. But I knew that settling for cruddy food wouldn't make me feel any better. I needed to eat food that made me feel healthier. And you know, it really helps. Particularly this dish was easy prep work and I really loved it. Yes, you don't have to make your own pitas, but you will be surprised how easy they are and what a revelation they seem to be compared to the prepackaged variety.

Pita breads and fillings are some of my favorite simple meals. Tomatoes and cucumbers tossed with fresh mint and homemade hummus is always a winner. But as eggplants are looking so nice are the farmer's market these last few weeks I couldn't resist trying them out instead. This recipe is every bit as wonderful. Pitas with roasted or grilled eggplant and a a bit of the yogurt sauce and some sliced seasonal fruit and you have a simple dinner that you don't have to try too hard for and feel better for eating. And did I mention it is SO GOOD- I'm having some leftover for lunch today.

Pita Bread
Peter Reinhart
Crust and Crumb
(This is really one of the BEST bread making books I have ever come across- check it out sometime)

3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or whole-wheat flour
1 t. salt
2 t. instant yeast
2 T. olive oil
1 1/4 cups cool water

1. Combine the dough ingredients in a mixing bowl of in the bowl of an electric mixer with a dough hook.
2. If kneading by hand, mix till all of the ingredients form a ball, then turn the ball out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it for 12-15 minutes. In a mixer, mix the ingredients for about 1 minutes on slow speed and 10 minutes on medium. The dough should be soft and pliable, similar in texture to baguette dough. If you are using whole wheat flour you may need 2-4 more teaspoons of water.
3. Place the dough in a clean bowl, mist with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rise for about 90 minutes, till double in size.
4. Place a baking stone on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 475° or use a heavy skillet or baking sheet.
5. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Lightly round each piece into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest for 20 minutes or refrigerate it for up to 2 days.
6. Roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin unto a circle about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough resists move on to the next piece and return in a few minutes. When all the pieces are rolled out, allow them to rest uncovered for 10 minutes before baking.
7. Spritz the baking stone lightly with water and place as many pitas on it as will fit. Lower the oven temperature to 450° and bake the pitas for about 3 minutes, or until they balloon.
8. When the pitas have fully expanded, remove them from the oven and cool on a rack if they are to be stored for later or wrap them in a napkin or towel to keep them warm for the meal.

To cook the pitas on the stove top: Preheat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly grease the surface and cook the pitas one at a time. Cook for about 20 seconds, then turn the dough and continue cooking for 1 minute or until big bubbles appear. Turn the dough again and cook until the dough balloons. If the dough begins to brown, lower the heat. The entire cooking process for each pita should be about 3 minutes.

Roasted Eggplant

2 medium or really any eggplant
2 T. olive oil
sea salt
freshly milled pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°. Slice the eggplant about 1/2 inch thick. Lay them out flat on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.

Yogurt Sauce with Paprika and Dill
Adapted from Deborah Madison
Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 1/2 cups of plain yogurt (drained of any whey that has separated out)
1 large clove of garlic, minced or otherwise pulverized
Sea Salt
2 t. chopped dill (dried is okay)
3/4 t. hot, smoked paprika

Whisk the yogurt together with the garlic, salt, dill and paprika. Chill for 1 hour if possible.


  1. Oh, dear heavens to Betsy I love you right now! That sounds delicious. We don't have any fresh mediterranean food around here and I miss it!!! I LOVE fresh pitas. I have made homemade hummous before and it didn't turn out so great. Do you have a good recipe?

  2. Do you make Tzaziki??? I want to make that too. And tabullah. gosh.... this all sounds soooo good.


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