Vol. 26 No. 02

Taste of Turkey: Spinach, Feta and Egg Breakfast Pide

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Chef Scott Conant gained national recognition for his special spin on Italian cooking at his former restaurants, L’Impero, Alto, and Scarpetta in New York City. Now based in Phoenix, Arizona, Conant runs two restaurants Mora Italian, a modern osteria, and The Americano, an Italian-American restaurant in Scottsdale. He also oversees an Italian steakhouse Cellaio at Resorts World Catskills in Monticello, New York.

However, when Conant is cooking at home with his family, one might be served dishes from Turkey, his wife, Mel’s, homeland. Conant pays homage to Mel with a section of Turkish recipes in his latest cookbook, Peace, Love, and Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen (Harry N. Abrams).

Scott Conant

The Conants have a home in Bodrum, Turkey, where Mel’s family lives. ” When we visit Mel’s family during the summer, breakfast is one of the biggest highlights of the trip. A traditional Turkish breakfast in the home is a thing to behold—no matter what day of the week it is,” says Conant.

Pide is Turkish for “pita.” However, the dough is similar to pizza dough but denser. The boat-shaped dough is filled with vegetables, feta cheese, and eggs and baked. It makes a great hand-held bite to eat.

In this recipe, Conant adds a little ricotta to the feta, to temper its bite. (“Though, full disclosure, my mother-in-law gives me the side-eye when she sees me add it.”)

Conant cautions that the spinach filling can be a little liquidy and to be careful it doesn’t drip off the sides when you put it on the pide to bake. Also, if you have a pizza peel, you can use that instead of a parchment-lined baking sheet to transfer the pide into the oven.

Pide Dough

Makes 6 balls of dough

¾ cup (180 ml) warm water

½ cup (120 ml) warm milk

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2½ cups (315 g) all-purpose flour

Combine the water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and begin to whisk. Add the sugar and the yeast then turn the mixer off and let the mixture stand for a few minutes to allow the yeast to activate.

Change to a dough hook attachment, add the salt and flour and mix for 8 to 10 minutes on medium speed until the dough is a little soft without sticking to the sides of the bowl during mixing.

Once the dough is kneaded, let it rest for at least 1 hour, or preferably, place in a 1-gallon (3.8 liters) zip tight bag and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight.

After the dough has rested, divide it into 6 pieces (they should weigh about 4 ounces [115 g] each) and fold each ball of dough under itself to create a tight ball. Cover the balls with plastic wrap while you prepare the filling.

Spinach and Feta Filling

Makes 1½ cups (about 465 g)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces (225 g) spinach

Pinch crushed red pepper

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

4 tablespoons (60 g) ricotta cheese

1 cup (150 g) feta cheese

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil, then add the spinach, red pepper flakes, and salt. Sauté until most of the water from the spinach has evaporated.

Transfer the spinach mixture to a food processor along with the ricotta cheese and blend until smooth. Crumble the feta cheese into the spinach mixture, then pulse to break the feta up into small chunks.

Assembly

1 pide dough ball

2 to 3 tablespoons Spinach and Feta Filling (left)

1 large egg, plus 1 beaten egg for the egg wash

Pul biber (Turkish crushed red pepper; optional; see Special Ingredients on page 23)

Flaky sea salt

Preheat your oven to the highest temperature it will go up to. (Most gas ovens go up to 550°F [290°C]; most electric ovens go up to 500°F [260°C].) Place a pizza stone or large baking sheet in the oven.

Roll out the dough lengthwise on a piece of parchment paper, if you don’t own a pizza peel, so it is 1/8 to ¼ inch thick, about 8 to 9 inches long (20 to 23 cm), and 4 inches (10 cm) wide.

Take the corner of the dough that is closest to you and roll it about ¼ inch toward the middle, creating a small triangle. Then continue to fold that corner of the dough in the same way, moving up the edge of the dough, pinching as you go, until you get to the top; you will have created a shallow wall on one side. Then do the same thing with the other corner; when you get to the top, fold up the edge of the dough on the opposite side, creating a boat (or diamond) shape, with both sides rolled in and the ends pinched down.

Carefully transfer the dough to a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush the egg wash over the edge of the dough, then place the spinach filling in the middle. Using a spoon, create a crater in the spinach mixture on which the egg will eventually be placed.

Carefully place the pide in the oven on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can hold the corners of the parchment paper you put under the dough to transfer the bread to the oven.)

Crack the eggshell on the side of a small bowl, then gently and swiftly open the egg into the crater in the center of the spinach.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the dough are golden brown, the yolk is firm in the middle, and the whites of the eggs are cooked through.

Remove the pide from the oven, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using, and season with flakey sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.

(Repeat with the additional dough balls if making multiple pides, or reserve dough and spinach mixture for another time. The spinach will last for up to 2 days refrigerated, the dough up to 5.)

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An engaging speaker and writer, Melanie Young hosts the weekly national radio shows, The Connected Table Live, featuring conversations with global thought leaders in wine, food, spirits and hospitality (a Feedspot Top 10 Food & Drink Podcasts for 2021), and Fearless Fabulous You, a lifestyle show for and about women (both on iHeart and more than 30 other podcast platforms). Young has contributed articles on wine, spirits, food, and culinary travel to Wine Enthusiast, Seven Fifty Daily, Wine4Food and Jewish Week. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, Wine Media Guild, and Women of the Vine & Spirits. Young’s former marketing and events agency, M Young Communications, worked with global wine, food organizations, publishing companies and nonprofits. She had an integral role in the creation, launch and management of The James Beard Foundation Awards, New York Restaurant Week, and Windows of Hope Family Relief Fund (2001) which raised funds to provide for the families of restaurant workers killed in the September 11th terrorist attacks. www.theconnectedtable.com www.melanieyoung.com Instagram @theconnectedtable

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