Homemade Pita Bread

I enjoy smorgasbord style eating, lots of options, everyone getting to pick what they like for their plate.  One such meal we do this with is mezze.  Easy to throw together, it can be composed of store-bought hummus, canned dolmas, kalamata olives, pre-made falafal, and tabouli, and pita.  You don't really need to cook anything at all and you have a feast on your hands.  But if you have time, I recommend you do one thing from scratch, make fresh pita.  Like pizza dough, it takes very little skill or cook time, and the result is so much better than store-bought; it's soft, spongy, and flavorful.  Here's how I make it...

Homemade Pita

1 cup very warm, not hot, water

1 packet of active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)

2 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tbsp for cooking

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour plus 1/4 cup for rolling

2 tsp sea salt

To prepare: Dissolve the yeast in the water in a glass measuring cup, and allow it to sit for 5 minutes while the yeast activates. Stir the olive oil into the mixture.  Using a standing mixer with a dough hook, measure out 1 1/2 cups of  flour, salt into the bowl, add the yeast and mix until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes.  Coat the inside of a medium-sized mixing bowl with a little olive oil to prevent sticking and insert the dough, covering with a cotton dish towel.  Allow to rise until it doubles in size, about  1 hour.  Flour your prep surface, and divide the dough into 8 sections for full sized pita, cutting them into smaller sections for mini pitas.  Roll out to about an 1'8" thickness.  Warm olive oil in a cast iron skillet, over medium flame, and place the pitas (one at a time for full-sized) in the pan cooking 30 seconds on the first side, until you see the dough bubble, turn over and cook for anther minute, then flip back and finish for one for minute until the pita is toasted on both sides.  Cover with a cotton towel, and serve fresh.

Mezze platter tip: I get my pre-made falafal and tabouli from the Whole Foods prepared section (a pack of 6 falafal is $3.50).  Their fresh dolmas are delicious, but pricey, head over to the jarred condiments section and pick up  a tin packed in olive oil for a quarter of the price.  Grab your kalamata olives there too.  They sell both of these things at Trader Joes as well. Hummus tastes better room temperature so warm it slightly, and drizzle it  with a little warmed olive oil to bring out the flavor.