Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

September 26, 2021
Bookmark and Share

Kalamata pita

This pizza-like pita has no equivalent in the traditional Greek kitchen, but Kokkari customers would never let them drop it. They make it with rounds of flatbread dough, and although they have varied the toppings over the years, this olive version wins the popular vote. They offer it as a meze, but you could serve it as an appetizer at a cocktail party.

2 tbsp. (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
sea salt
1 tsp. (5 ml) brown sugar
fine semolina flour for dusting
2 uncooked rounds of Greek flatbread dough (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. (30 ml) coarsely chopped Kalamata olives
2 plum (Roma) tomatoes, sliced ¼-inch (6-mm) thick
¼ c. (60 ml) grated myzithra or ricotta salata cheese
¼ c. (60 ml) grated kefalotyri or pecorino romano cheese
2 pinches chopped fresh thyme
2 pinches chopped fresh rosemary
fresh basil, julienned, for garnish

In a small saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onion wilts slightly, then cover and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and beginning to caramelize, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the brown sugar, cook over low heat, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the onion caramelizes a bit more and is almost creamy, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let cool.

Preheat the oven to 475°F (240°C). Dust a heavy baking sheet with semolina flour. On a work surface also dusted with semolina, use a rolling pin to stretch each dough round into an elongated oval about 10 x 6 inches (25 x 15 cm). Transfer to the prepared pan. Pierce each oval in several places with a fork to keep air bubbles from forming during baking. Brush lightly with olive oil. Top each oval with the caramelized onions, spreading them with the back of a spoon.

Scatter the olives over the flatbread, then top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle the two cheeses over the surface, then finish each with a pinch of thyme and rosemary. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese has melted, 12 to 14 minutes. Garnish with basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Cut into wedges and serve immediately. Serves 8.

Greek flatbread

The Greek pita is not a pocket bread, but a thick, floppy flatbread that you can roll around souvlaki or tear into pieces and use as a scoop. It keeps well for several days in a plastic bag; reheat under a broiler or in a toaster oven.

2 c. (500 ml) warm water (105 to 115°F/40 to 46°C)
1 package (¼ oz./7.5 g) active dry yeast, about 2¼ tsp. (11.25 ml)
2 tbsp. (30 ml) honey
½ c. (125 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
½ c. (125 ml) plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt (not Greek-style yogurt)
2 tbsp. (30 g) unsalted butter, melted
6 c. (1.5 L) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 c. (250 ml) whole-wheat flour
¼ c. (60 ml) fine semolina flour
sea salt
crumbled dried Greek oregano for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, combine the warm water, yeast and honey. Whisk well, then let stand for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom. Stir in the ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil, the milk or yogurt and the melted butter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the 6 cups (1.5 L) bread flour, whole-wheat flour, semolina and 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt. Add to the yeast mixture and mix with the dough hook on low or a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. Knead with the hook or by hand for 5 minutes.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 hour. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet and dust with flour. Cover with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, 1 hour.

Prepare a medium-low charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-low. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and brush the parchment with olive oil. On a lightly floured surface, flatten one ball of dough into a thick disk. Using a rolling pin, gently stretch the disk into a 6-inch (15-cm) round about ¼-inch (6-mm) thick, no thinner.

Brush the round with olive oil, then sprinkle with dried oregano and sea salt. Transfer to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough, stacking the flattened and seasoned rounds on top of each other in 2 stacks, so they are oiled and seasoned on both sides by contact. Let rest for 15 minutes to relax the gluten.

In batches, place the rounds on the grill and cook slowly until the bread puffs slightly and the bottom colours lightly and develops grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes. Grill on the second side until the bread is cooked through, 2 minutes longer.

It’s difficult to judge doneness without cutting into the bread, which you don’t want to do until it’s cooled completely. Beware of undercooking. Move the breads to a cooler part of the grill if they’re browning too quickly. The first time you make them, you may want to cook, cool and test a couple before continuing.

Transfer the flatbread to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes before cutting. Makes 1 dozen.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


Post a comment