Monday, January 17, 2011

Pita Pockets

For dinner the other night, I decided that I wanted to make the New York Times' recipe for Greek Nachos, because it sounded like the kind of dinner that could be relatively light yet satisfying, and I love the kind of meals that you can assemble and then pick at gradually.

But then I decided that I didn't want to use lamb, I wanted to use turkey; I loved the cumin in the meat part of the recipe, but thought that some more spices were called for. And I didn't want to make the sauce with that much oil and feta, so I cut back on those two ingredients. And I definitely didn't want my sauce to contain any fresh mint because the very idea made me want to vomit, so I used the fresh oregano growing on my windowsill. 

Finally, after having made my own pita bread, I had run out of motivation and no longer felt like cutting the pita pieces into wedges, toasting them, and making a nacho-like sort of thing. So I cut the pitas in half and stuffed all the ingredients inside. The end result was still a dinner I could assemble and pick at, but it no longer resembled my originally intended meal. Nonetheless, it was delicious, and I highly recommend that you try making your own pita pocket dinner. It's relatively healthy, and endlessly adaptable. If anyone out there has a way that they particularly like to make pita pockets, let me know about it in the comments.

Pita Pockets
(Inspired by the New York Times)
Serves 4
  • Feta Yogurt Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat or a combination of dark and light meat)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup water or beer
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon (You'll already have this if you're making the feta yogurt sauce. One lemon is sufficient for the whole recipe.)
  • 4 pieces pita bread, homemade if you like
  • 2 or 3 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 medium cucumber, roughly peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Calamata olives, pitted and halved (optional)
Make feta yogurt sauce.

Put two tablespoons of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook all but 1/4 cup of the onions until soft (set that 1/4 cup aside-you'll use it later.) Add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add turkey, ground cumin, and cayenne, and sprinkle with salt. While the meat cooks, use a spatula or other kitchen utensil to break it up into fine chunks; cook until meat is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. 

If the meat is exceedingly dry when you add it to the pan, add 1/4 cup water or beer. The turkey will later release juices as it cooks--continue to cook meat until almost all liquid has evaporated. Add red pepper flakes if you like spicy food. Add a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and the juice of a 1/4 of a lemon. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, or lemon juice as needed.

Break each pita in half and using your finger, separate the two sides of each half so that you're left with pockets. Stuff each pocket with the turkey meat, yogurt sauce, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives. Eat.

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