Feed your neighbors with  sourdough pita and dipping oil

News & Politics

This week for Align, I interviewed prepper and children’s book author
James Walton. Interestingly, when asked what he thought the most important thing is that someone could do right now to better prepare themselves for disaster, he said:

“Engage with the people in your neighborhood. The loneliness epidemic and the hollow world of digital stimulation has created a real hunger for human interaction, because it has made it too easy to do life without looking anyone in the eye. Should a disaster strike, the people who live around you will be the ones you are surviving with. They will be the ones by your side, moving debris and tarping up roofs. Start a community garden, create a neighborhood text line or email group, and start talking about things like neighborhood watch. Life with people is so important. We need each other more than we realize.”

This struck me. Inspired by his comments, I want to share this relatively easy, crowd-pleasing pita and dip.

This is perfect for outdoor parties. You could even throw the oil in a mason jar and deliver it to new neighbors as a welcome gift.

Sourdough novices needn’t be intimidated; this is one of the easiest recipes to start. If you’re running low on time and know a good local bakery, a crusty sourdough works just as well.

As for the dipping oil, feel free to add chopped artichokes. It might even be nice to serve these alongside my
Greek meatballs and cucumber salad, which many of you seemed to enjoy.

Have a great weekend; may this dish grease the wheels of friendship!

Sourdough ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter, active and bubbly
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus more for greasing bowl
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Dipping Oil Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives (I prefer kalamata)
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • Lots of shaved parmesan
  • Handful of chopped Italian parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sourdough instructions

  1. Combine everything in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook.
  2. Knead on medium/low speed for 10 minutes or until dough is stretchy and smooth.
  3. Oil a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl, and add a lid or plastic wrap.
  4. Let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 4-6 hours at room temperature or up to 12 in the refrigerator.
  5. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape into small balls on a lightly floured surface
  6. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes to relax gluten.
  7. Roll each ball of dough into a 6” circle with a rolling pin, no more than 1/4” thick.
  8. Allow them to rise a little until puffy (about 30 minutes to 1 hr). Cover with a damp tea towel during this final rise to avoid the dough drying out.
  9. While the pitas are doing their last rise, get a large pizza stone or cast iron skillet preheating in the oven at 500 degrees. You want to use a heavy vessel so that it can retain the heat. When the pitas hit the hot surface, they release steam in the oven and cook rapidly, creating the pocket that is so great for sandwiches or pita pockets!
  10. Place the pita bread dough onto the hot baking surface and place into a hot oven. Bake for 5 minutes or so. They should puff up really nicely.

Dipping oil instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients; as always, adjust quantities to taste.
  2. Serve on a platter with a tall lip and a large, flat spoon. Serve pita in a bread bowl.

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