I made a hummus pizza a few days ago and I felt like recreating a sandwich version of the dish with a bunch of Mediterranean ingredients. The problem was that I only had pita bread at home. I could have created a pocket in the bread and stuffed it, but I decided to place the ingredients on top of the pita bread to create a meal that resembled a pizza.
Following the Mediterranean theme, I made a cannellini bean and roasted red bell pepper hummus-like spread and topped it with Greek feta cheese, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula, pickled shallot, black olives and marinated artichoke hearts. For the meat lovers out there, I would add some cubes of lamb kebabs.
I'm sure you've heard of 30-minute meals, but this took me 10 minutes, tops. Try this recipe the next time you're in a hurry. Beat that, Rachael Ray!
1 dozen mini pita breads
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 (15-ounce) can white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red bell peppers, (I used 2 small peppers)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 teaspoon red chili flakes, crushed
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1 sprig fresh red creeping thyme (or regular), finely chopped
1 cup arugula, washed and spin-dried
1/2 pound Greek feta cheese, diced
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons), freshly squeezed
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, coarsely chopped
1 dozen black olives, sliced
6 marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
2 teaspoons curly parsley
a drizzle chili garlic oil (optional), about 2 tablespoons
For the pita bread: Lightly brush the mini pita bread with olive oil. Place the pieces onto a hot griddle. Cook until you get nice grill marks (about 2 minutes on each side) over medium heat. Remove from the pan. As soon as the bread is ready, drizzle with half the amount of a lemon juice and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper. Set aside.
Pickling the shallot: Peel and thinly slice the shallot; mince finely. Place the minced shallot in a bowl, sprinkle with some brown sugar and drizzle with half the amount of a lemon juice. Set aside.
For the cannellini bean and roasted red bell pepper "hummus": In a mini-food processor, combine the cannellini beans, pickled shallot, garlic, thyme, paprika, roasted red bell peppers, remaining lemon juice, red chili flakes and remaining olive oil. Pulse until smooth. (if the spread is to thick, add up to 2 tablespoons of water). Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl. Chill in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to "broil" setting.
Assembly time: Spread about 1-1/2 tablespoons of the cannellini bean and roasted red bell pepper "hummus" onto each pita bread. Garnish with some Greek feta cheese, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and marinated artichoke hearts. Place the mini-pizzas on a baking sheet and broil them for about 3 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Garnish with some arugula and curly parsley. Finish with a drizzle of chili garlic oil if you like.
Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Roasted bell peppers are pretty easy and inexpensive to make. Wash the bell pepper, pat dry and brush with oil. Place a grill on your stove and char all the skin of the bell pepper. Wrap in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Wash the bell pepper under running water and the skin will come right off.
You can also serve the mini-pizzas as appetizers à la Wolfgang Puck; that's how they serve them at Spago. It's a great time-saver and this dish is perfect when you throw a casual, buffet-style party.
White cannellini beans can be found in any grocery store. They're sometimes also called white kidney beans.
We have a lot of red creeping time this season in our garden. If you have any recipe suggestions on how to use it all, please drop me a message .
I get mini-pita breads at the Iranian store. If you don't have any, I think you can find find regular-sized pita bread in most grocery stores. Just grill and quarter them.
Summer is almost over, so take advantage of the hot weather and make good use of your barbeque. You can grill the pita bread on the outdoor grill. Cover the bread with the spread, then cover it with all the Mediterranean ingredients. Place the pita on the grill, close the barbeque and wait for a few minutes so the feta cheese gets warm.
How to make chili garlic infused oil: The use of chili garlic oil is optional but I like to drizzle a little at the end for a little extra kick. Combine a sprig of rosemary, a sprig of thyme, 8-10 small dried red chilies, 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of olive oil (no need to use high quality) in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat (use the lowest setting on your stove) until the garlic cloves are soft (but not browned). Pick a transparent glass bottle. Fill another large pot with water and bring to just under a boil. Place the glass bottle, heat-proof funnel and tongs in the pot and let it boil for 10 minutes. This will ensure good sterilization. Fill the bottle with oil using the funnel. Add the sprigs of herbs and the garlic cloves if you like. Let it cool completely. Cover the top of the bottle with a cap. Store in the refrigerator. Wait at least 1 or 2 days before using to allow all the flavors to blend. **I sterilize the bottle and store the oil in the refrigerator to minimize any risk of contamination.