Lunch Bunch

Perfect for back-to-school lunch boxes, Israeli pita or pocket bread has become a staple in the American kitchen. At one time, this versatile favorite was only obtainable in upscale gourmet shops or Middle Eastern groceries. Now, not only is it sold everywhere, but it comes in a variety of flavors and sizes.

In Israel, it is typically served warm accompanied by hummus, tehina or filled with falafel and salad. Kids love it because it is like having a meal in one hand. A twist on tradition and a little creativity makes even the most ordinary tuna or egg salad exciting when stuffed into a fresh pita, along with all the familiar salad greens and tomatoes.

Hot off the grill or straight from the kitchen, tasty fillings stuffed into a pita, eaten out of hand makes for a delicious and nutritious lunch.

The pocket that is created while it bakes makes this bread a perfect edible container, and makes any child's feast a portable one. If you're ambitious, the food processor makes quick work of making pita from scratch.

Refresh pita breads by wrapping a stack of them in foil, and heating them for 10 minutes in a preheated 350° oven. (A microwave makes them kind of limp).

Pita Pockets


2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 package yeast
1/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 cup warm water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Stir in sugar. With machine running, pour yeast mixture into flour mixture. Process just until the dough comes together.

Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead about 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover and let rise until doubled about 1 hour. Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead to remove the air bubbles.

Roll dough into a log and divide evenly into 12 pieces. Pat each piece of dough into a ball, them use a rolling pin to flatten into discs about 1/4 -inch thick and 6 inches in diameter. Place discs on a lightly greased baking sheet, flatten slightly and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500°. Place oven rack in lowest position.

Bake the pita bread, one pan at a time, until puffed and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool breads on a wire rack.


Peanut-Butter Pockets


Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely shredded fresh carrots
1/2 cup organic peanut butter
1/4 cup crushed peanuts
4 Tbsps. chopped fresh
bean sprouts

6 6-inch pitas
lettuce leaves

Mix all filling ingredients.

Line pita pockets with lettuce leaves. Stuff pockets with filling.

Makes 4.


Turkey-Hummus Treat


1/2 cup hummus
4 pita pockets
4 slices roasted kosher sliced turkey
1/2 cup shredded or chopped Iceberg lettuce
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
2 plum tomatoes, sliced

Spread the hummus inside the pocket.

Add remaining ingredients in layers in pocket.

Makes 4.


Tuna Delight


Filling Ingredients:

1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsps. mayonnaise
1 can (6 oz.) chunk tuna, drained
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup shredded carrots
2 Tbsps. raisins
1 Tbsps. lemon juice

4 pita pockets
spinach leaves

In medium bowl, combine cream cheese and mayo; beat until smooth.

Stir in tuna, celery, carrots, raisins and lemon juice; blend well to combine.

Line pockets with spinach.

Stuff pockets with tuna mixture.

Makes 4.


Creamy Cheese and Greens Pocket


4 oz. cottage cheese
2 Tbsps. extra-virgin olive oil or butter
4 oz. mixed salad greens, torn into bite-size pieces
2 apples, cored and diced
6 6-inch pita breads, cut in half

In a small bowl, blend cheese with olive oil until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the greens and apples. Spread inside of pita with cheese mixture, then fill with greens mixture.

Makes 6 pockets.


Pizza Pita


4 6-inch pitas
6 Tbsps. pesto
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup olives, pitted and halved
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Spread inside of pockets with pesto.

Combine the remaining ingredients and fill pockets.

Makes 4.

Louise Fiszer is a California cooking teacher and food writer. Among the six books she's co-authored is Jewish Holiday Feasts.