Sometimes I want pizza — wood-fired-oven-baked, charred-crust, Neapolitan-style — and sometimes I want “pizza.” The latter is the type of thing I would make in the broiler after school when I was a kid: French bread, English muffins or flour tortillas topped with sauce and cheese and heated until bubbly.
This recipe is squarely in the latter camp, but it’s a step up. Cookbook author Heather Thomas, who splits her time between Greece and the U.K., uses pita breads as a base for a pile of spinach, soft onions, tomatoes, feta, olives and pine nuts. I’m sure these would be even better with freshly made pitas from a Mediterranean bakery, but Thomas takes into account the reality that few of her U.S. readers will be able to find such a thing, and instructs you to first pan-fry the rounds in a little oil in a skillet, turning grocery-store bread soft and pliable. When you bake them, they get a little crisp on the edges, while the spinach wilts and the tomatoes soften.
If you’re a purist unable to consider this a pizza, I have a solution for you: Don’t. Just dollop on a little harissa-spiked yogurt, fold the round over, and eat it like a gloriously messy sandwich. Now, isn’t that better?
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
4 large (over 8-inch) or 5 medium (6- to 8-inch) pita breads
5 ounces (4 cups) packed baby spinach leaves
2 ripe plum tomatoes, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
12 pitted black olives, preferably kalamata (optional)
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 teaspoon harissa paste
1/2 cup plain, whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a rimmed baking sheet at hand.
Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onions and cook until very tender and golden brown, 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and sugar, if using, the salt and pepper; cook for another minute or two, so the flavors can meld. Taste, and add salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to a bowl, and wipe out the skillet.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat. Pour in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Working with one or a few at a time to avoid overcrowding, heat the pita breads in the skillet until lightly browned and soft, 2 to 3 minutes on each side, adding a little more oil as needed between batches. Transfer them to the baking sheet.
Divide the spinach among the pitas, then top each one with cooked onions, tomatoes, feta, olives, if using, and the pine nuts.
Bake until the pitas become crisp on the bottom, the tomatoes begin to soften and the pine nuts start to turn golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, swirl the harissa into the yogurt in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the warm pita pizzas with basil. Serve with the harissa yogurt alongside, for dolloping or dipping at the table.
Adapted from “The Greek Vegetarian Cookbook” by Heather Thomas (Phaidon, 2019).
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to email@example.com.
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Calories: 520; Total Fat: 18 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 25 mg; Sodium: 820 mg; Carbohydrates: 72 g; Dietary Fiber: 6 g; Protein: 21 g.