Pesto Hummus with Fresh Pita


I'm a sucker for homemade bread...of any variety really. But for some reason, pita has a special place on my palate. Is that weird to say? When Ryan and I were living in Boston, we frequented a Middle Eastern restaurant on Gloucester St. called Cafe Jaffa and often began our meal by stuffing our faces with lots of hummus and pita. And then regretting all of the face stuffing because we couldn't finish the other food we ordered. But it was always soooo good! 

Since moving to Nashville, we haven't found a match to Cafe Jaffa. I'm sure it exists somewhere (and if you know where it's hiding, please let me know), we just haven't stumbled upon it yet. This week I really, REALLY wanted some hummus, but I don't really like the store bought stuff. It's just not as good, ya know? So I did some researching and found this recipe on Molly Yeh's blog (always a trusty source). Halfway through the hummus-making process I decided to change things up a bit and add some pesto since I had a drawer-ful of basil from our farm share this past week. And let me just say, the two go swimmingly together! And the pita bread - fluffy and warm from the oven - it's pretty much perfection. 

Pesto Hummus with Fresh Pita
Hummus adapted from Molly Yeh

For the pita bread:
To make the sponge, put 1 c lukewarm water in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast and sugar. Stir to dissolve. Add the whole-wheat flour and 1/4 c of all-purpose flour and whisk together. Put bowl in a warm place, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture is frothy and bubbling.

Add salt, olive oil and most of the remaining all-purpose flour (reserve 1/2 c). Stir mixture with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a bit of reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.

Turn the dough onto a work surface. Knead for 2 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Add as little of the reserved flour as possible; the dough should be soft and a bit moist (at this point, you can refrigerate the dough in a ziplog bag for several hours or overnight. Bring the dough back to room temperature, knead into a ball and continue with recipe).

Clean the mixing bowl and put the dough back in it. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Put bowl in a warm place. Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 475 degrees. Place a heavy duty baking sheet or ceramic baking tile on the bottom shelf of the oven while oven preheats. Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a little ball. Place dough balls on work surface, cover with a damp towel and leave for 10 minutes.

Remove 1 ball (keep others covered) and roll into a flat disk with a rolling pin. Roll to a circle about 8-inches in diameter (about 1/8 inch thick), dusting with flour if necessary.

Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on the hot baking sheet. Bake for 2 minutes, at which point the dough should be puffed. Turn over with tongs or spatula and bake for 1 minute more. The pita should be pale, with only a few golden brown speckles. Transfer warm pita to a napkin-lined basket and cover so bread stays soft. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

Serve immediately if you can.

For the pesto hummus:
Cover the chickpeas with about 2 inches of water and soak them overnight, or for 12 about hours. Transfer chickpeas to a large saucepan and cover with an inch of water. Stir in the baking soda and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 2 hours, until the chickpeas are nice and soft.

Drain the chickpeas and measure out 2 c into a food processor, reserving any extra for garnish. Add the tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic (use as much or little as your taste buds desire) and a good pinch of salt. Blend together. Adjust salt, (and add more tahini if you want a nuttier flavor and creamier consistency) and serve with a generous dollop of pesto and your fresh out of the oven pitas.


For the pita bread:
2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
35 grams whole-wheat flour (1/4 c)
310 grams unbleached all-purposed flour (2 1/2 c)

1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil

For the pesto hummus:
3/4 c dried chickpeas
1/2 tsp baking soda, for cooking the chickpeas
6 tbsp tahini
6 tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
kosher salt, to taste
1-2 cloves of garlic
pesto (homemade or if you’re in a pinch, store-bought)