“Recipes for Poets”: Grilled Pancetta, Spinach, and Onion Pita Pizza

May 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

About a month ago, the folks over at 32 Poems suggested a “Recipes for Poets” blog carnival, the idea being to share quick and healthy recipes by poets for poets so that everyone can eat a little better and spend a little more time writing. 32 Poems being a great magazine, coedited by fellow—though just before my time—UNT alum John Poch, and me with a spanking new food/poetry blog, I was of course excited about the proposal. I also had no idea what to make. It was Kelly who eventually saved the day, suggesting the simple and versatile flatbread/pita pizzas she used to make during a brief stint years ago at The Green Chai Cafe in Bastrop, TX. They’re perfect for any meal, just enough to fill you up without being heavy.

First thing you’ll need is pita. The thicker, pocketier pita you’ll usually find at stores won’t do. You’re looking for the wider, flatter kind like the ones pictured. We currently get ours from Shawarma King, an awesome Middle Eastern restaurant here in Kalamazoo, who gets theirs from Yasmeen Bakery in Dearborn. Back in Texas we found good pita at Sprouts, and I imagine places like Whole Foods and such would have it, too, if you can’t find a good Middle Eastern restaurant or specialty store to buy from. It’s also pretty easy to make. We recently followed the recipe on this site (scroll down a bit or do a ctrl-f for “pita bread”) with good results, though next time I’m either going to use all-purpose flour or a half and half mix of all-purpose and bread flour, as it came out a bit too elastic for me. This of course abandons the “quick” caveat of this recipe, but they can be made ahead and freeze very well.

Once you have your pita the rest is just play. For my toppings last night I chose pancetta, spinach, onion, cherry tomatoes, garlic, and basil. Toppings

With the pita darker side down, drizzle with olive oil, and add garlic.

Olive oil and garlic

Next add two big handfuls of spinach along with sliced cherry tomatoes, red onion, and some basil leaves. Slice the tomato fairly thinly, by the way. The “dough” is already baked, so with the short cooking time the tomatoes need to be fairly thin in order to be affected by the heat.

Spinach, tomatoes, and red onion

Add pancetta, mozzarella, and Parmesan. You can put the pancetta on whole if you like, or chop/tear it like I have.

Pancetta, mozarella, and parmesan

Grilling is optional, but since it’s summer and since I’m always looking for any excuse to use my new grill, on it went. If you’re grilling, let the grill get hot then turn the burners down to just under medium when you put the pizza on. Again the “dough” is already cooked here, so all you’re trying to do is melt the cheese, lightly wilt the spinach, and crisp up the pita, which will burn quickly if you have the heat too high. You can also put the pizza on a baking sheet in a 475° oven for 8-10 minutes. When the cheese is melted and the pita crisp, it’s ready.

Slice, shake on some red pepper flakes, and enjoy. This is, of course, just one of many ways to make these. Try it with pesto, Roma tomatoes, and slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella for lunch, or bacon, fried eggs, and sautéd onion for breakfast. Kelly mentioned last night that you can hold the cheese altogether for a vegan version—that super-thin sliced tomatoes will lightly caramelize and do the binding-together work the cheese would do normally. With the leftover pancetta from last night and some marinara I made a few days ago, I just made a more traditional one for lunch, adding green bell peppers and chopped, pickled wax peppers, and ate it as I began typing up this entry. And with six or so pita left in the freezer, I’m sure we’ll be making more soon.

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