This blog has been lately a lot about baking and pastries (even more if you follow me on Instagram), but I happen to also make savory dishes sometimes (yes yes!). I love then preparing food inspired by Mediterranean or Middle Eastern cuisine, with lots of veggies and spices. Pita sandwiches are a favorite of mine, and my dream filling includes a thick layer of hummus or tahini, fresh avocado and crunchy veggies. The crunch today comes from crisp eggplants dipped in a polenta and herbs mix and baked in the oven – no deep drying here!
Do you ever cook with upbeat music? I was still pumped up by my Zumba session from last night, so latin music served as a great background for cooking my pita sandwiches! The first step is to prepare pita bread pockets: no special skills required to make the dough. Just make sure your oven is well preheated so the breads will nicely puff, allowing you to cut them open and stuff them. Every now and then, one bread doesn’t puff (it happens to all of us!), I simply use it as flatbread.
Next we will prepare crispy eggplants. Typically in France we use beaten eggs as a first coating, before dipping further in chapelure, or ‘breadcrumbs’. I chose here to make the recipe vegan by using almond milk instead of egg. I mixed polenta with dry oregano herbs to coat the eggplants, in place of breadcrumbs. 30 minutes in the oven et voilà, crusty flavorful eggplants ready to be stuffed in your pita pocket! For non-vegans, add grated parmesan to the mix for extra flavor boost!
Pink beetroot hummus is both pretty and healthy! All my childhood I ate delicious well-seasoned beetroot salads, as my grand-father used to grow them in his garden. If you are not a big fan of beetroot, no worry, you can hardly taste it once mixed in hummus paste, with chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, tahini and cumin spice.
Pink… Green… Crusty… Creamy… Garlicky… Lemony… Spicy… and healthy, in a word, just my kind of sandwich!
- Pita breads:
- 250 g gluten free flour mix (the mix I use contains buckwheat, rice flour, corn flour, potato starch and psyllium)
- 230 g water
- 5 g dry yeast
- 4 g salt
- 20 g olive oil
- 1 tbsp dry oregano or basil (optional)
- Beetroot hummus:
- 3 small beetroots
- 400 g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Juice of a lemon
- 2 tbsp tahini paste
- 1-2 clove garlic minced (depends how garlicky you like)
- ½ tbsp cumin spice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp water
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Crispy eggplants:
- 2 small eggplants (about 220 g each)
- 50 g gluten free flour mix
- 80 g polenta
- 2 tbsp oregano or Provence herbs
- Optional for non-vegan: 3 tbsp grated parmesan
- Pinch of salt and ground pepper
- Olive oil
- 3 avocados
- Fresh spinach leaves
- Prepare the pita bread pockets: Activate the dry yeast by mixing it with 100ml of warm water (about 40 degrees). Let it rest for about 10 minutes until it starts foaming.
- Add flour and salt in your stand mixer with K-beater. Pour in the yeasty mixture, the rest of the water and the olive oil. Mix until a dough forms. (you can also do it without mixer, with a wooden spoon and kneading by hand).
- Place a humid kitchen towel above the bowl and let the dough rise for 1h30.
- Preheat your oven 220 degrees, leaving a baking sheet inside.
- Line your counter with parchment paper and lightly flour it. Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces.
- Take one piece and make a ball using your hands. Spread it in a circle with a rolling pin.
- Place each pita on parchment paper (2 to 3 pitas fit at a time on my baking sheet). Brush them with water and let them rest 10 min.
- Slide the pita and parchment paper in the oven on top of the preheated baking sheet. Bake until the pita breads puff (about 3-4 minutes), then take them out immediately. Keep them under a dishtowel while baking the other pitas. After they cooled down a bit, slice them open (half way).
- Prepare the crispy eggplants: (I do this step with the pita dough is rising). Cut the washed eggplants in 7-8mm slices, sprinkle some salt and set aside for a few minutes.
- Dab the eggplant slices with a paper towel to remove excess water.
- In a bowl, stir together the polenta, dry oregano (or Provence herbs) and pepper (plus parmesan, if added, or salt).
- Prepare a plate with almond milk. Dip each eggplant slice in almond milk, then coat both sides in the polenta mixture and place slices on a parchment paper lined baking pan. Drizzle olive oil on top of the eggplant slices.
- Bake for 30 minutes, 200 degrees.
- Prepare the beetroot hummus: Place the beetroots in a food processor and blend them. Then add chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, water and blend until smooth. Add a bit of water if too thick. Chill until use.
- Stuff the pita bread pocket by spreading first the hummus, then a layer of sliced avocado, topped with crispy eggplants. Add spinach leaves before serving.
I used small eggplants which are easier to stuff in pita breads. If you only find large eggplants, cut the slices in two.
If you prepare the crispy eggplants on their own, without the beetroot hummus, add half a teaspoon of dry garlic. As my beetroot hummus was garlicky (I used 2 garlic cloves), I left garlic out of the eggplant coating.