Recently I have become excited about making Pita. I enjoy its rustic flavor and versatility. It can be cut open and stuffed with Falafel, or it can be wrapped around sausages and eaten like a hot dog. It can be torn into pieces and dipped into one of my favorite dips, Greek Yogurt Labneh, or you can toast the torn pieces and use it in salad or soup.
I have been baking Pita on a pizza stone on my barbecue, using the smoker feature. This makes me feel like I have a pizza oven! I also make a version called Moroccan Country Bread (Matloua). This variety of Pita uses whole wheat flour and Semolina flour, while the regular Pita I make, uses regular white flour. However, I like to substitute ¼ of the flour with whole wheat. It gives it a more rustic texture and taste.
Both versions undergo expansion when you put them on a pizza stone. Slide the 5” rounds onto the pizza stone, close the smoking barbecue, and come back in 2 minutes to see pillows of bread. I flip them to brown on both sides. They usually deflate some but retain a wonderful space within, which you then can stuff with whatever good things you have on hand.
On this particular sunny evening, which we have been enjoying more of lately, my stuffing of choice is Falafel. Falafel is common in the Middle East. I recently purchased a fun cookbook, called “Israeli Soul” by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook. Wonderful recipes! From this cookbook, I learned how to make Pita and Falafel.
Falafel is similar to meatballs, but with ground Chickpeas instead of meat. Mixed into it are several common Middle-Eastern ingredients, such as cumin, turmeric, cilantro, and parsley. The balls are formed, deep-fried, then stuffed into pitas tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce—your choice! Various sauces can be spread inside, but my favorite is Harissa Tahini.
Tahini is smooth like the consistency of smooth peanut butter, but with sesame seeds in place of peanuts. Garlic, lemon, and salt are blended in. Harissa is a North African spice mix of hot chilies, garlic, salt, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, and caraway. There are various iterations of it, but I usually just pick some up from “Bucks Spices” in
Stuffing all of these ingredients into my Pita makes a wonderful meal to enjoy with family or friends. It is a process of getting all the ingredients together, like setting up for homemade pizza. We select all the toppings, stuff them in the Pita, then enjoy it like a big juicy hamburger, with more of a Middle Eastern feel. And for those who like a non-
meat option, Falafel is a good choice.
Now that spring is here with summer not too far behind, I will be doing more cooking on my outside barbecue, and adding the feature of my pizza stone will give me more options for enjoying outside cooking.