I realize it may be a bit sacrilege to call this next recipe Greek pizzas since the only thing vaguely Greek about it is the pita bread and maybe the mint and, depending on which side of food history you’re sitting on, the chickpea hummus-like spread that goes on top of the pita. I’m not sure if there’s some kind of national pita day in January or if grocery stores were just anticipating the massive ban on carbs in diets come the New Year, but it became quite elusive when I needed to find some, thus I figured for all the trouble and running around, it would be wise to make really good use of it and feature it prominently. So, there you have it.
As you may remember, I have this Vegetarian in my life, who despite my best attempts to charm him, refuses to come over to the dark side and eat anything with a snout, tail, hooves, fins-you get the idea. Now that we live together, it’s been interesting to see what I can whip up that satisfies us both, without leaving me feeling like I need to run out and find a cow or a chicken or anything that could double as a cute farm animal. Actually, I don’t eat much meat in general, mostly due to cost and my food budget, so I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of creating recipes that have hearty enough combinations of things like legumes and grains so at least I know I’m getting something nutritious in my diet. I also don’t have a lot of time, like most folks, to be sitting around waiting for things to cook, so I opt for quick-cooking grains and canned beans whenever I can.
People often ask me for tips on how to add more variety to their meals. If they’re open to being a little adventurous, I typically recommend adding one or two new ingredients to recipes they feel are their standards or ones they feel comfortable preparing. New spices, one new vegetable or grain can take what you have eaten for the last 10 years of your life into something a little more interesting. It doesn’t take much and it doesn’t have to make a hole in your budget, but there are always new ways to look at an old classic recipe. It also helps to educate yourself on common food pairings and world cuisines. On-line resources, your local library or bookstore, your favorite restaurants always feature recipes and dishes that give you a sense of ingredients that work well together. Like peanut butter and jelly, these pairings are generally fail-safe, time-tested and easily identifiable. I was aiming for something Middle Eastern in this recipe so I started with bulgur and the mint and dates just came from there.
I know this time of year can be daunting for those of you getting back into a healthier routine. If there’s not a pita shortage in your neck of the woods, hopefully you’ll give this recipe a whirl and find some new inspiration in your kitchen.
- For the chickpea spread
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 large clove garlic
- ½ bunch of parsley (about ½ cup chopped)
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- For the bulgur salad
- ½ cup bulgur
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup dried and pitted dates, chopped
- ½ cup walnut pieces
- 1 large shallot, minced
- Remaining parsley, minced
- 1- .66 oz pack of fresh mint (about 1/3 cup chopped)
- Zest of 1 large lemon and remaining lemon juice
- 1 pack (6 count) whole wheat Greek pita bread
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place bulgur, vegetable stock and olive oil in a small sauce pan, covered, over high heat until boiling. Once boiling, turn to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Next, prepare chickpea spread either in a large mixing bowl or a small food processor. Mash or blend until smooth or somewhat thick and creamy. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine dates through lemon juice. Stir in warm bulgur and combine.
- Place pita on a large baking sheet. Top each with ¼ cup chickpea spread and ½ cup bulgur salad. Warm in the oven 5-10 minutes just until bread is soft.
- Cut each pita into four portions and serve one pita per person or 24 individual servings if making as an appetizer.