Homemade Pita Recipes

| June/July 1998

  • Lunch on the run: that’s Shrimp Salad with Lemon Balm and Fennel on the bottom, and Garlic Ricotta and Proscuitto Stuffed Pita on top.
  • Wedges of lightly toasted pita— perhaps the ones that don’t puff enough to form a pocket during ­baking— are perfect for dipping into Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.
  • A pile of perfect pitas, hot out of the oven
  • Bake pitas two at a time in a very hot oven.
  • Kneaded dough is rolled and shaped one piece at a time.
  • Sliding the baked pitas into a paper bag keeps them soft while they cool.

Pita Recipes:

• Garlic, Ricotta, and Prosciutto Pita
• Pork with Olives and Chive ­Mustard
• Shrimp Salad with Lemon Balm
• Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
• Pocket Salad Niçoise
• Feta Mushroom Pita Focaccia 

• Extra: Basic Pita Dough 

The always-easy pita fits Americans’ grab-and-run lifestyle as well as it did that of the Middle Eastern nomadic tribes who invented the flat bread thousands of years ago. Puffed with a pocket perfect for stuffing, it provides a portable, edible container for a vast array of fillings. It’s sturdy enough for picnics and take-out food, but it’s not too rough-hewn to accompany fancier fare. Even its blandness is a bonus, complementing all manner of flavorful ingredients.

Fill pitas with deli meats, herbs, and vegetables; ignore the pocket and top them with tomato sauce, cheese, and herb sauce and bake them as you would focaccia; or cut them into triangles to dip into savory sauces. You’ll find that the possibilities for using pitas are unlimited.

Pita’s Place In History

Bread has been a food staple for thousands of years. Paintings in Egyptian tombs depict the growing, harvesting, and milling of grain for bread. The Sumerians, Phoenicians, Hittites, and other ancient civilizations depended on bread for much of their nourishment, and the breads they baked were flat loaves, ancestors of today’s pita. Eventually fermented or leavened bread was discovered, but this was reserved for the rich, while flat breads served the needs of commoners.

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