Week 56. Turkey. Ispanakli Pide

I think I need I need a holiday. In fact I know I need a holiday. The winter has been here for a long time now and this morning walking out of the house to minus 5 degrees was the last straw. My body needs to get into the sun and drink a long soothing cocktail of vitamin D. I need my skin to tingle, not crumble. I need to sweat because the sun is too hot, not because I am curled up next to a radiator. I need to wear shorts outside (I wear them inside throughout winter). I need to drink cold crispy Sauvignon Blanc with beads of condensation rolling down the side. I need to jump into a swimming pool to cool down, not jump into the shower to warm up. I need to be covered at night in a sheet and to hear a fan in my room and I want to eat Moules Marinières – outside.

I just don’t want to be in winter any more.

When I drew Turkey this week and began my usual trawl of the potential recipes available to me I came across how to make the red pepper paste which is used in this dish. One of the instructions was to “leave the paste out in the sun for 8 hours to further reduce”. To what?  The sun probably popped out for 8 minutes today, not 8 hours and the power it contained could reduce nothing more than a man to tears. Had I left it outside it would have grown not reduced, as ice would have built up on it. My sun jealousy was starting to build…..but then I thought that we should get away. Why couldn’t we head off to Turkey for some early summer sun in a couple of months? Why couldn’t we walk down the sun drenched streets and look at all the plates of reducing red pepper paste. Well we could – and we are going to and that is thanks to my jealously of some paste.

Look up online what the national dish of Turkey is and you get flooded with Kebab options, but I wanted to go past that and look at something I hadn’t eaten before. Pide is a form of Turkish Pizza which is topped differently and shaped differently to the pizza we know in the UK, but taste wise wasn’t too dissimilar.

I opted for a vegetarian dish and I was largely swayed by loving the combination of spinach and feta. I love the salty flavour of the cheese amongst the vitamin powered spinach. Added this were two staples in garlic and onion and the special red pepper paste. I didn’t add (as I don’t think it is traditional) black olives or pine nuts, but they would have even further enhanced the dish I believe.

The result of the dish was somewhere between a pizza and a calzone  but allowed far greater quantities of filling than either of the aforementioned. It was delicious and the poached egg on top worked fabulously. I don’t often make pizza at home, as I don’t think they compare to the taste you get form a Pizza oven, but this really wasn’t far off. Take careful note of how I basted the dough with butter as this made an enormous difference.

Make this. It’s not as difficult as it looks, and it tastes great. It will impress.

Recipe (to make for 4)

Red Pepper Paste.

  1. Take 4 Red Peppers and 1 Red Chilli
  2. Boil them for 25 mins
  3. Take out the seeds and core
  4. Remove Skin
  5. Blitz in a Blender.
  6. Add salt and a glug of olive oil and “leave in the sun for 8 hours” or simmer for 10 mins.

Pide

  • 2.5 Tbsp Dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 + 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil
  1. Disolve the yeast in ¾ Cup Warm Water
  2. Leave for 15 mins
  3. Mix everything else together in a bowl and then kneed for 15 mins on a floured surface.
  4. Leave to prove for 1 hour.
  5. Cut into 4 and then leave for another 15 mins.
  6. Shape into ovals and then turn up the sides and tie the ends in a knot.
  7. Filling:

Filling:

I used frozen spinach, boiled it and then drained and squeezed all the water from it. Set aside

I gently fried 1 Onion and 3 cloves of garlic and once done I added the red pepper paste and then stirred through the spinach.

Preperation

Once the pide and filling is complete, brush the pide with warm butter (all over) and then spoon an equal measure into each, followed by crumbled feta over the top. Mix it in a bit so it doesn’t all sit on top, but be liberal.

IMPORTANT

You need to bake this on very high. Pretty much as high as your oven will go. The pide will dry out unless you brush a lot of butter on it at the start.

It will need to bake for about 15 minutes so with 5 mins to go poach an egg for each one.
When you take out the final dish, brush with butter again. It will make a huge difference.

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