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.

The Onions

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

3-4 roasted red peppers, sliced in lengthwise strips (about 1/4″)  and then in half

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!

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This sandwich recipe for leftover turkey is a yummy departure from the norm of turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches.  I received this in my weekly email from The Splendid Table, but the original came from Ellie Krieger whose recipes are always tasty and healthy!   This Greek salad in a pita pocket is easy to prepare and delicious to eat.  You could easily add other Greek salad staples such as red onion, Kalamata olives and tomatoes, but it’s really good exactly as prescribed.  If you don’t do dairy you can substitute your favorite hummus for the feta spread.  And don’t even consider skipping the mint – it’s what brings all the other flavors together!  This recipe serves 4 people with one sandwich each or 2-3 with healthy appetites.

The Feta Spread

3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (4 ounces)

3 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon dried oregano

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the feta and yogurt in a small bowl, mashing any large chunks of cheese.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  (This spread will keep in the fridge for about a week.)

The Sandwich

4 whole-wheat pita pockets

4 large romaine lettuce leaves, torn in half or fourths

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced

1/4 cup mint leaves

3/4 pound sliced cooked turkey

To make a sandwich, cut a pita in half to form two pockets.  Warm the pita wrapped in foil in the oven for a few minutes before this step if you like.  Line each pocket with half a lettuce leaf. Spread 2 heaping tablespoons of feta spread into each pocket. Then fill each pocket with about 6 cucumber slices, 4 or 5 mint leaves, and 2 or 3 slices of turkey. Serve immediately or wrap in foil to go.