To me, pita bread is like a plate. Layer on an assortment of toppings and tear, roll or slice like a pizza and eat. Back in my college days I was the Queen of pita pizzas, I was also known as a pretty “tight” gyro wrapper at the local Pita House, a skill proven useful even today…pita bread and I go waaaaayyyy back.
Today, March 1st, sparked a rush of spring through my veins. A balmy 12 Celsius, I walked the dog in the warm(ish) fresh air, felt the sun make my eyes squint, realizing I needed sunglasses, poked around in the garden to see if anything was making it’s way to the surface, went for a run, listened to a babbling brook and watched a robin bathe in a puddle.
Ravenous, yet intent on eating healthier, I boiled an egg, grabbed a pita, opened the fridge and got to work. The perfect lunch came together: Pita slathered with homemade hummus, goat labneh, chopped chives, chili pepper and za’atar alongside a hard-boiled egg with capers and a quick-pickled Persian cucumber and shallot salad.
Note: I am not one to measure and cook mainly by taste.
Two Tips for smooth and creamy hummus:
1. Cook your own chickpeas. Yes, it takes more planning and a bit more work, but it’s worth it. That said, I am guilty of having taken shortcuts and will use the canned variety.
2. Ice. Yep. A handful of ice will make your hummus smooth, creamy and the perfect color. I don’t know the science behind it, but I saw a purist make it this way and I’ve stuck by it.
2 cups chickpeas, skins removed Note: if using un-canned chickpeas soak them in hot water for 8 hours or overnight. When ready, drain chickpeas and place them in a large cooking pot. Cover with water and boil 1-2 hours until tender. Drain into a colander, reserving 1 cup of the water and remove the skins.
If using canned chickpeas, rinse and remove skins.
1/4 cup tahini
juice from 2 lemons
2 cloves garlic
Handful of ice
Salt to taste
Additional cooking liquid from chickpeas to thin
Place tahini, lemon juice, garlic cloves and ice in a food processor and pulse until creamy and pale in color. Season with salt.
Add the chickpeas and blend until well incorporated. Add as much water (reserved from cooking chickpeas) as you need to achieve desired consistency and run for a few minutes in the food processor until silky smooth.
Serve topped with olive oil and a dash of sumac or paprika, garnished with chopped parsley, whole chickpeas alongside pita bread.
Store in the fridge 1 week (if it lasts that long!) Use on sandwiches, with veggies, toss with rice dishes, pasta or thin out as use as a salad dressing.
Quick Pickled Persian Cucumber and Shallot Salad
Serves 1 (Simply add more ingredients to serve more)
1 Persian cucumber, sliced in half and chopped
1 Shallot, thinly sliced
Salt to taste
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a bowl add chopped cucumber and sliced shallots. Season with salt add a few swirls of vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to taste. Let set 10-30 minutes and enjoy.