Traditional Mediterranean pita flatbread with fresh herbs from the summer garden, or dried spices. A favorite with sandwiches, dips or tapas spreads!
Flatbread vs Pita Bread
Most often flatbread is flour and liquid quickly mixed into a batter that cooks fast on top the stove or over fire.
I’ve often known it to be a little crunchy, like a cracker or softer, like a bread. Sometimes the texture will depend on the amount of flour and oil in the mixture.
Here’s something you might not know; pita is traditionally thicker than flatbread. Though flat, it is a softer, bread-like texture, made with yeast.
Lets talk about ancient nomad times of the Middle East, when bread was quickly mixed, left to sit out in the sun to ferment a little. When dinner time rolled around, it was cooked on open fire, often on a flat metal plate set on top of the fire.
Think of a pancake type of batter; flour, yogurt (often soured sheep milk) and some type of fat.
Depending on the meal it was to be eaten with, honey or herbs would be added to the batter.
Ancient Tradition Of Pita Bread
Pita bread was an important aspect of the meals eaten for one very good reason; no forks!
A little leaven in the batter and it creates a softer yet more sturdy type of bread. Tearing off pieces of pita and using to scoop (like a little spoon), the food for eating was the way it was done; or else you eat with your fingers.
Mediterranean Herbs and Spices
Dough for either pita or flatbread is basically flour and water. Fat added to the batter, such as olive oil, made for a softer texture.
Herbs are either added to the batter, sprinkled on top or both. Garden fresh herbs are what I use during the summer months. Oregano and fennel grows like weeds in my yard but I have to cultivate parsley more delicately.
Garden-to-Table cooking is what I love most during the summertime. Winter spices, for Mediterranean flavors, are also delicious especially when they are homemade, like Za’atar, which is delicious on top of pita.
What To Serve With Pita Flatbread
Goodness me, do we have enough room on this page to tell you all the devious dishes to serve with Pita flatbread!
In fact, which cooking on The Great American Recipe program with PBS, I made sure that I made some type of bread with as many dishes as I could.
Episode 2, I made Shakshuka on the show and believe you me, I was determined to make flatbread to serve with it, in under 60-minutes! I did and the judges were wowed that I made my own bread to dip in the egg!
Here are just a few of the traditional Mediterranean dishes I will serve a pita or flatbread with:
How To Make Pita Flatbread
First, we must make the dough of flour, water, yeast and olive oil. Yes, I put even a sprinkle of yeast in my flatbread, let it sit 20 minutes and cook it on top the stove. Keeps it from taking on the texture of a cracker.
Secondly, the dough, once it rises, gets cut into little golfball (or tennis, depending on how large you want), and rolled flat and oval.
Thirdly is the cooking and this, for me, is what makes pita different from baking bread. On top of the stove, on a hot, oiled cast-iron griddle, I quick sear both sides of the pita. Pop it in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes to bake and it is perfect!
Last, is the toppings. While the pita is hot, brush a little olive oil, sprinkle coarse salt and add with dry spices or fresh chopped herbs. Scrumptious!
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Fresh herbs (optional)
- Za’atar (optional)
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Basting brush
- Rolling pin
- Stovetop griddle or cast iron pan
- Cutting board (for herbs)
- Stovetop of burner
Mediterranean Pita FlatbreadCourse: Bread Muffins u0026amp; CrackersCuisine: Mediterranean
Traditional Mediterranean pita flatbread with fresh herbs from the summer garden, or dried spices.
Yeast – 2 teaspoons
Sugar – 2 teaspoons
Salt – 1 tablespoon
Olive oil – 2 tablespoons, more for basting
Water – 1 1/4 cup
Flour – 4-5 cups, more to roll out
Coarse salt – 1 tablespoon
Fresh herbs – 1/4 cup (optional)
Za’atar – 1 tbsp (optional)
- Pour water in a bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar on top. Let sit 5 minutes to form a foam. Add salt and oil. Stir.
- Slowly add flour and stir until it becomes difficult to stir. Now it’s time to get a little messy. With your hands, begin to press added flour into the dough, adding flour until it forms a lovely plump ball.
- In a clean bowl, rub a little oil to glaze the bowl. Place the dough ball in the oiled bowl, cover and let it sit in a warm (not hot) place to rise. It will rise in about one hour. A little longer in cooler climate.
- Once it rises, sprinkle a little flour on top, and punch it down. On a floured surface roll out the dough. Cut into 12 pieces and shape into flat/oval pieces about 1/4 inch thick.
- Preheat oven to 400 and heat a cast iron griddle on top the stove.
- Brush the griddle with oil, place the pita on the hot pan for a minute on each side. Remove and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until golden on top.
- While the pita is still warm, brush again with olive oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and add the spices or herbs of your choice.
- Pita freezes well. To reheat, just pop in the microwave for about 25 seconds so the pita becomes soft again.