Saturday, 1 February 2014
Freshly baked pittas are far superior to shop-bought and are amazingly simple to make. Try them stuffed with souvlaki or dipped into hummus or with my griddled halloumi and watermelon salsa.
250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 x 7g sachet instant yeast
20g/⅔oz nigella seeds or black onion seeds (optional)
1 tsp salt
160ml/5½fl oz tepid water
2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for kneading
In a bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, nigella seeds and salt. Add 120ml/4fl oz of the water and 1½ teaspoons of oil. Using your fingers mix the ingredients together. Gradually add the remaining water and oil until all the flour has come away from the sides and you have a soft dough. (You may not need all the water; the dough should be soft and not sticky.)
Pour a little oil onto your work top. Place the dough on top and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet in the beginning but will form a smooth dough once kneaded. Once a smooth dough is achieved, place it into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/Gas 9 and place a clean baking tray or baking stone on the middle shelf.
When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a work surface dusted with flour. Knock the dough back by folding it inwards over and over again until all the air is knocked out. Split the dough into 4-6 equally sized balls. Roll each ball into an oval shape 3-5mm thick.
Remove the hot tray from the oven, dust with flour and place the pitta breads on it. You may have to cook them in batches.
Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until they just start to colour. Remove them from the oven and cover with a clean cloth until they are cool.
Spiced Halloumi with Watermelon Salsa
Serves 4 as a starter
½ tsp cumin seed
½ tsp coriander seed
200g /7oz block halloumi cheese
a little olive oil
2 handfuls mixed salad leaves
small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 mint sprigs, leaves picked
2 large pitta breads, quartered
For the salsa
175g / 6oz pack watermelon chunks, or equivalent whole chunk), chopped into small pieces
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
Using a pestle and mortar, crush the cumin and coriander seeds with a coarse grinding of pepper. Slice the halloumi and place on a chopping board, Brush with olive oil and sprinkle over the spice mix, turn over and repeat – Set aside.
Mix the salsa ingredients together and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Mix together the salad leaves, parsley and mint with a little olive oil. Heat a frying pan, and when hot fry the halloumi for 1-2 minutes on each side. At the same time warm the pitta in the oven.
To serve cut the pitta bread in half and divide them and the cheese between 4 plates plates, and serve with a spoonful of salsa and salad.
To get ahead: The salsa can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge.