Red Pepper-Onion Pitas with Dates & Feta Cheese
January 21, 2011
Aunt Suzy says . . . .
This is a delicious casual meal for any occasion that’s a lot of fun to cook and serve for a crowd. Think football playoffs! My brother and I cooked these great pita sandwiches last Sunday and served them with a number of Mediterranean items – hummus, roasted chickpeas, olives, tabbouleh and Corfu salad. We waited till half-time of the Bears-Seattle game to serve -my niece, Katie and her cousin make it clear who we were rooting for! Good meal, great game outcome! (Go Bears!!) Many sides work with these sandwiches and a peppery Cotes du Rhone or California Syrah works really well.
This recipe is comprised of several components – sauteed onions, red pepper-date relish, sausages, feta cheese – that can be assembled into the pita pockets to individual tastes. Randy likes to substitute hummus for the feta and these can be made vegetarian by omitting the sausages. These can also be served as appetizers on toasted regular (non-pocket) pita wedges, omitting the sausage. The amounts specified here served 7 people. All quantities are adjustable to your taste and number of people.
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon EV olive oil
2 white onions, sliced
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet. When shimmering, add the butter. When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the sliced onions. Saute on medium-high heat stirring constantly until beginning to brown – about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until soft and golden. Set aside. NOTE: I heard about a technique for slicing the onions that minimizes the stringy membranes. Cut the onions in half length-wise and then slice in that same direction – from top to bottom rather than across. Yellow onions can be substituted for the white.
The Pepper-Date Relish
1/3 cup chopped dates
1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons EV olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
The Sausages/Assembling the Sandwiches
8 sausages – lamb, merguez or flavorful chicken sausages
1 1/2 cups feta cheese, in chunks or crumbles
8 pita pockets, whole wheat recommended
A NOTE ON THE SAUSAGES: If you are near a Whole Foods, brother John discovered delicious lamb sausages from New Zealand in their freezer section – flavored with Sofrito. Some Whole Foods have fresh lamb sausage. I use either fresh-made merguez Moroccan lamb sausage or lamb-blueberry-pine nut sausage, both from Clancy’s Meats in my neighborhood – definitely worth a trip for you Twin Cities residents. We also use some of the fully cooked, highly flavored chicken sausages found at places like Co-ops, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
DIRECTIONS: Cook the sausages according to directions till just done, but still juicy. If it’s warm out, you can grill on either a gas or charcoal grill. Cut into smallish pieces on the diagonal. Cut the pitas in half and wrap in foil and heat in the oven till warm. To make the sandwiches, place the onions, sausages, red pepper-date relish and feta into a pita pocket half. Enjoy!