At a previous job, I had the pleasure of working with a sweet Bosnian girl. Conversation, as it does with me, turned to food and I asked her what she enjoys cooking for her new husband. This is when she introduced me to the idea of a Bosnian dish called Pita. Not like pee-tah (how we may pronounce the pocket bread used with falafal) but pi-tha (with a soft -th- sound). She described this wonderfully complex dish that I just knew I had to try. It includes an interesting ingredient, “Vegeta”, that she swears by.
So where to begin?
Let’s try to explain Vegeta (she pronounced it va-geth-a….not va-jetta). It’s a vegetable based seasoning used in many Eastern European households. You don’t need to use a lot to get good flavor. She says she finds it at the local “international” store but a quick internet search shows that you can also find it at other grocery stores. If you don’t have Vegeta and don’t want to buy it, that’s totally fine. I tried one pie with it and one pie without it (I forgot!!) and they were both delicious. You may just need to compensate with either more salt or some other vegetable seasoning.
Now, let’s see if I can try to explain Pita – But wait, let me just put a disclaimer out there. I am not claiming to be a Pita expert. I’m far from it. I heard about it from a friend and then researched a bit on the net before combining all that I’d learned into my recipe below. I don’t know if my recipe is exactly the same as what my friend makes at home but it does look like the pictures I’ve found on the internet ;).
Pita is a traditional dish with a long history in Bosnia but the recipe is complicated and time consuming enough that many people have stopped making it. I could hear the pride in my friend’s voice when she said she makes a good pita. She said something to the effect of, the test of being a good Bosnian wife is you can make pita.
Does that make me a good Bosnian wife? Haha…I’ll have to ask Mitch about that.
Alright, so getting to the point. In the simplest terms, Pita is kind of like a phyllo pie arranged in a spiral. It’s not terribly complicated in concept, but it certainly takes patience. That said, this will be the first recipe for which I’ve posted some “in process” pictures because in this case, seeing really makes a difference – Especially with regards to the thinness of the dough. I think the dough should have been even more thin but my patience ran thinner…that’s why patience would be the first ingredient in this recipe. Regardless, it still tasted good.
Pita is also very versatile. You can stuff it with just about anything. A popular stuffing is spinach & cheese so that’s the example I’m giving today. However, don’t think you’re limited to savory flavors – I made a tasty strawberry and goat cheese pita for dessert (I meant to add candied pecans but…fail…if you try it, let me know how it goes).
|2 cups All Purpose Flour + more flour for dusting|
|1 cup Warm Water|
|1/2 tsp Salt|
|12-16 oz Frozen Spinach (thawed and squeezed of excess liquid)|
|Salt to taste (to sprinkle on spinach)|
|2 cups Cottage Cheese - drained|
|4 heaping tbs Feta Cheese|
|2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil + extra to spread on dough|
|1 tbs Vegeta|