Pascale’s cuisine: Pita bread & salads

Sometimes we crave simple, easy-to-prepare foods. Below you will find recipes for delicious salads when accompanied by a piece of fresh pita bread, for which I have also included a recipe.

It may seem at first glance that making pita bread at home is complicated, but it really isn’t. All you have to do is follow a few instructions and you are guaranteed to get near perfect results.

Pita bread dough should be a little more moist than regular bread dough, which helps the pocket to form inside the dough.

In my experience, the best way to bake pita bread is in an electric pot, which costs only NIS 100. You can also bake pita bread on a baking stone in your home oven.

And, of course, fresh pita bread wouldn’t be complete without some fresh, homemade salads to pick up. Below you’ll find the recipes for three of my favorite salads.

The first is one of my favorite salads: tomato salad, garlic and spicy green pepper.

Next are two extremely simple recipes for fried eggplant slices, although you have to follow the directions for the best results. The most important thing is to make sure that there is as little liquid as possible in the eggplant slices before you start frying them. The more you leave them coated in salt before frying, the easier it will be to remove any excess liquid. Coat them in flour, breadcrumbs or panko before frying, if desired.

PITA BREAD

Makes 14-16 coins.

1 kg. white, whole wheat or spelled flour, sifted
1 tbsp. salt
1½ tsp. dry yeast
1-2 tbsp. white, golden or brown sugar
3 tbsp. canola or olive oil
3½ cups of water at room temperature

Place the flour in a large bowl, add the salt and mix. Add the yeast and mix by hand. Add the sugar and mix well.

Add the oil and half the water and mix well. Knead the dough and gradually add the rest of the water while kneading. Keep kneading until the dough is very sticky.

Dip your hand in the water and turn the dough halfway up the bowl with the other hand. Stand at the edge of the bowl and continue kneading the dough. Continue to turn the bowl while holding the edge of the bowl and kneading the dough with the same hand. Continue kneading the dough for 8-10 minutes. Wet your hand a bit, if necessary, to prevent the dough from sticking.

Alternatively, knead the dough with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 10 minutes until the dough forms a ball and falls off the side of the bowl. Add a little more water, if necessary, while mixing the dough.

Cover the bowl of dough you mixed by hand (or with a blender) with a damp kitchen towel. Place the bowl in a warm spot and let the dough rise for 60 to 90 minutes or until doubled in size.

Place a baking stone in your oven and preheat the oven to 250 ° about 90 minutes before baking the pita bread.

Place the dough on a largely floured work surface. Cut the dough into 14-16 pieces, shape them into balls and place them on a floured baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 10 more minutes. Roll out each ball in a flat circle.

Place each circle of dough on the hot baking stone (or on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper). Wait 30 to 60 seconds until the pita bread expands, then remove it from the oven. Continue to bake all the pita bread circles in the same way.

Difficulty level: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Status: Parvé.

TOMATO, GARLIC AND SPICY GREEN PEPPER SALAD

Makes 4 servings.

3 medium tomatoes
1 large spicy green chili
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and olive oil, to taste

Rinse the tomatoes and peppers then cut them into very small pieces. Place them in a bowl and add the garlic, salt and olive oil. Mix, taste and adjust the seasoning. Add a little lemon juice or vinegar, if desired. Serve with pita bread.

Difficulty level: Easy.
Time: 10 minutes.
Status: Parvé.

SPICY EGGPLANT SLICES. (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
SPICY EGGPLANT SLICES

Makes 6 servings.

1 large eggplant
Kosher salt
1 large red pepper
1 large yellow pepper
3 hot peppers
frying oil

Spicy tomato sauce:
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 tomatoes, chopped
5 large cloves of garlic
100 grams tomato paste
1½ cup of water
Salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tbsp. the vinegar

Toppings:
Whole or chopped basil leaves

Cut off both ends of the eggplant. Rinse well and slice ½ cm. slices. Arrange the slices on a platter and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let them sit and sweat for an hour.

Cut off the stems, pith and seeds of the peppers and cut them into strips 2 cm wide. Cut the spicy peppers into two pieces.

Heat the oil in a pan so that it measures 2 cm. high, as you would use it for frying cutlets. Pat the eggplant slices with a paper towel and fry them in hot oil on both sides until they turn golden. Remove and place on absorbent paper.

Dry the peppers and fry them on both sides for 2-3 minutes. Remove them and place them in a bowl. Let the oil drain out.

To prepare the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan and add the crushed tomatoes and garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir. Add water, salt and pepper and mix. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. If necessary, add ¼ cup of water.

Pour a thin layer of sauce into a medium, shallow round baking dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices, then a layer of pepper strips and on top 2 tablespoons of sauce. Then start another layer of eggplant slices and continue until you have used all the ingredients.

Gently shake the dish so that the sauce coats the vegetables. Place the dish in a preheated oven over medium heat and cook for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Difficulty level: Average.
Time: 2 hours.
Status: Parvé.

    SLICES OF FRIED EGGPLANT (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN) SLICES OF FRIED EGGPLANT (credit: PASCALE PEREZ-RUBIN)
SLICES OF FRIED EGGPLANT

Makes 6-8 servings.

2-3 eggplants
Salt to remove liquid
frying oil

Rinse the eggplants with water and dry them. Peel the eggplants, leaving large sections of skin so that they have stripes. Slice lengthwise or in circles.

Salt the eggplant slices on both sides and let them sit in a colander for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator, to remove excess liquid.

Heat the oil in a pan so that it measures 2 cm. high. Pat the eggplant slices vigorously with paper towels to remove any remaining moisture. Fry the slices on both sides until golden brown.

Serve the eggplant slices covered with a sweet and sour sauce made from the juice of 1 large lemon, salt and pepper, 3 crushed garlic cloves and ½ cup chopped parsley. If you like yogurt, add some to the sauce.

Difficulty level: Easy.
Time: 1 hour.
Status: Parvé.

Translated by Hannah Hochner.

About Francis Harris

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