We’re never too old for pita pizzas. Don’t let anyone tell you this because it’s not true.
This weekend Jake put in a special dinner request for gyros. I bought my ingredients at Mideast Market in Ballwin, MO. It’s not a huge store, but they do have an in-house Halal butcher shop, produce, and a chaat deli counter where you can order pani puri and gyro tacos.
The sight of pani puri on a menu transported me back to this little (now closed) restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis called Bombay 2 Deli where I fell in love with spicy Indian food as a new grad. One afternoon, I brought a coworker who used to live in India and remember how flipped when she saw pani puri. She ordered them on the spot and taught me how to dunk the crunchy, little shells filled with curried potato into the spicy water before popping them into my mouth. Before Bombay 2 Deli, I had only visited Indian buffets serving northern cuisine so this was pretty revelatory.
Two of the items I bought included Cham Bakery pita and a box of frozen Olympia-brand gyro meat. The pita reminds me of the Lebanese flatbread a college friend used to bring from home. It’s larger than the typical store-bought pita, thinner, and chewier. In a nutshell, Cham’s pita crisps into the perfect pita pizza base. I’m guessing MSP residents can find something similar at Holy Land Deli or St. Paul Flatbread. One lesson I learned was that frozen gyro slices differ in quality. These slices browned around the edges nicely and rendered little fat, while the last ones I bought at a grocery store in Iowa melted into liquid goo. These are good products.
The next day I turned some of our leftovers into pita pizzas. I whipped together a simple tomato sauce and topped them with pinches of fresh mozzarella, basil, roasted eggplant, and gyro meat. There’s really no exact recipe. Taste as you go and add whatever you like.
1 garlic clove, slivered
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 – 8.5 oz can tomato sauce
Dab of butter
- Gently saute silvered garlic in a good glug of olive oil.
- Add a couple spoonfuls of tomato paste and briefly cook.
- Pour in tomato sauce and incorporate into tomato paste.
- Season sauce to taste with a splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine, pepper, salt, sugar, oregano and basil. Add a little dab of butter for some richness.
- If you use the tomato sauce and/or tomato sauce that’s already flavored with Italian seasonings, be aware that they might contain a lot of salt.
- Simmer until you’re ready to top the pizzas.
I used to work at Broders’ Cucina Italiana where I got hooked on their Eggplant Special pizza. Roasted eggplant is my favorite pizza topping.
If you have a larger eggplant with tough skin, remove most of it with a peeler. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips. Drizzle with lots of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until it’s tender and caramelizes. Toss eggplant occasionally during cooking. If it seems too dry, add more oil.
- Lightly rub pita with olive oil on both sides. Place on a sheet pan.
- Spread pizza sauce on pita.
- Top with mozzarella, roasted eggplant, and whatever toppings strike your fancy. We also made pizzas with leftover gyro meat, fresh basil, shaved onions, and hot pepper flakes.
- Bake until the pita crisps and cheese starts to bubble.
- Serve with extra tzatziki sauce. We made ours similar to this recipe. If you can find it, Lebanese labneh is a delightfully thick yogurt. The lemon juice and cucumber will thin it out.