Thu Apr 28, 2016
In my creative process of thinking of new recipes, once I hit an idea, my brain often won't stop considering all the variations that can come out of it. This was the case when I decide to try to make Turkish pides— which are pizza-like stuffed flatbreads. My original inspiration was a minced lamb pide, but instantly I wanted to also do a potato version, and a spinach and cheese version. My tendency towards excess led me to make all three, and I'm finally getting around to sharing that last one of the series.
Of the three pides I made, the spinach and cheese variation is the lightest on ingredients. The spinach mixture is pretty basic and pretty delicious. It started with sautéing finely diced red onion in butter and and oil until it was just softened, but not browned.
Then I added in spinach in large handfuls, stirring until each batch was wilted. Once I had the entire pound of spinach in the pan, I let it continue to cook until the excess moisture was gone. A final seasoning with salt and pepper finished up this half of the filling.
The other half is cheese, of which Kasseri seemed to be the most popular choice for this pide application. Kasseri, produced both in Greece and Turkey, is made with sheep's milk and has a semi-hard texture and a mildly tangy, salty character. If Kasseri isn't something you can pick up easily in your grocery, don't sweat it and just use a low-moisture mozzarella instead. There will be some sacrifice in flavor, but overall texture will be somewhat similar.
Assembling the pide wasn't all that hard, but it took me a few tries to get it right. I first started by rolling out the dough into a long oval—you can check out details on the dough here. Then I spread out a layer of spinach and cheese along the center, leaving a good inch of room along the edges.
This allowed me to finish the formation by folding over the sides and pinching the ends closed.
I utilized my KettlePizza to cook these, since its intense temperature produced from burning wood is perfect for this type of bread/pizza baking. I got my KettlePizza up around 950°F, which cooked this pide in about three minutes, rotating it about halfway through.
My first shot at it turned out like this. If this were a pizza, I would have been proud of the puffy, spotted crust, but pides are supposed to be thinner with a little more crunch. This was mighty pretty and mighty tasty though.
I got the crust texture down better on subsequent tries by rolling out the dough thinner, which made it both not as puffy and required less time to cook, keeping it from charring like that first one did. The overall pide was pretty stellar. The minced lamb and potato versions had a layered spice that made them more complex, but there's a lot to be said for the fresher, lighter flavor of this spinach pide. The spinach was nice and tender with a faint onion-y flavor and richness thanks to the butter. It's simplicity was given a little boost from the mildly tangy Kasseri, but not so much to make this feel heavy at all. Taking that altogether with the crisp crust, it made me happy I invested additional time to do a third variation and already has me thinking of even more pides I can make in the future.
Turkish Spinach and Cheese Pides
- Prep Time:
- 30 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 2 Hours
- Cook Time:
- 5 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 2 Hours 35 Minutes
- 4 servings
- For the Dough
- 20 ounces (about 4 cups) all-purpose flour
- .5 ounce (about 3 teaspoons) instant yeast
- .35 ounces (about 1 tablespoon) kosher salt
- .15 ounces (about 1 teaspoon) sugar
- 12 ounce lukewarm water
- 1.125 ounces (about 3 tablespoons) Extra Virgin olive oil
- For the Spinach Filling
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1lb fresh spinach, roughly chopped
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6oz Kasseri cheese, grated
- To make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add in water and oil and mix on low speed with paddle attachment until combined. Switch to dough hook and knead on medium speed until dough clears sides, but sticks to the bottom of the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator for 1-3 days.
- To make the spinach fulling: Heat oil and butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add in onion and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add in a few large handfuls of spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted. Continue adding spinach a few handfuls at a time until all spinach is used wilted, and no moisture remains. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the pides: If dough is refrigerated, 2 hours prior to cooking, remove dough from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature, covered, for at least 2 hours before baking. Heat KettlePizza or pizza oven to 950°F. Alternatively, set a baking stone or Baking Steel on upper middle rack in oven and heat on highest setting possible for 45 minutes. Roll dough out into a long oval. Spread 1/4 of spinach mixture and 1/4 of the cheese along middle of dough, leaving a 1-inch edge with no filling. Fold sides of dough over filling and pinch ends closed.
- Place pide in pizza oven and cook for 2-3 minutes, rotating pizza for even cooking as necessary. Alternatively, place pide on baking stone or steel in heated oven and cook until crust is baked through, 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven, garnish with remaining parsley, slice, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.