They’re chewy, they’re hot off the grill, and their pockets can be filled with everything from scrambled eggs to falafel. Pitas are a versatile staple to have around the house, and it felt very satisfying to make at home what we usually just grab at the store. The original recipe suggested placing a cast iron skillet on the grill over indirect heat and cooking the pitas that way, but we found that throwing them directly on the grill imparted a delicious flavor, left those appealing grill marks that lets everyone know that yes, you grilled your pitas, and allowed us to cook more at a time. We think it was the right decision (per advice from Bridge of The Way the Cookie Crumbles).
Grilled Pita Bread
(Slightly adapted from the June/July 2010 issue of Fine Cooking – Makes 10 pitas)
1 TBS. honey
2 tsp. active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; more as needed
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 TBS. olive oil; more for the bowl and baking pans
- In a small bowl, mix the honey with 1/2 cup lukewarm water and stir in the yeast. Let sit until the yeast has started foaming, 2-3 minutes.
- Put both flours and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (alternatively, you can use a hand-mixer that has a dough attachment – we don’t have a stand mixer and this worked fine). With the mixer running on low speed, mix in the olive oil until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.
- Add the yeast mixture and 1 cup lukewarm water and mix until fully incorporated, 2-3 minutes more. Raise the speed to medium and knead dough until it starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball that is smooth, elastic, and no longer sticky, 4-5 minutes. If the dough seems too wet and sticky, add more flour 1 tsp. at a time.
- Raise the speed to medium high and continue kneading for another 5 minutes.
- Oil a medium bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl. Roll to coat the dough with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead two or three times to remove any air bubbles. Form into a log and divide it evenly into 10 pieces. Form each piece into a ball and then roll into disks about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Lightly oil two rimmed baking sheets, and place the disks on the baking sheets. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until just doubled in thickness, 30 to 45 minutes.
- Prepare a charcoal fire with indirect heat by placing the coals to one side of the grill. Place the pitas directly on the grill (over the “cool zone” – not directly over the coals) for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Depending on the heat of your coals, the time may be shorter or longer. Enjoy while hot!
Looking for a new idea to use homemade pitas? This is what we came up with the evening we made ours. Instead of making use of their pockets, lay them flat, spread a thin layer of goat cheese (like a fromage blanc from Harley Farms), scatter a handful of caramelized onions, and season with salt and cracked black pepper. Place the pitas back on the grill (covered) for a few minutes to warm the cheese and onions, and then top with a handful of fresh, peppery arugula and finish with a drizzle of balsamic. You’ll love the flavor combination. I made a simple fruit salad to go alongside these “pita pizzas.” I tossed freshly cut watermelon, peaches, strawberries, and plums with fresh lime juice and chopped mint. It tasted like summer!