If you love your Instant Pot and air fryer as much as I do, or even if you haven't even taken your appliances out of the box yet, today is a big day. Instantly Mediterranean by Emily Paster is here, and this cookbook will be your new go-to guide for all recipes for your electric pressure cooker and air fryer.
Emily taught a virtual Intro to the Instant Pot class this summer for The Chopping Block and it was such a big hit, we invited her back to share even more recipes from her new cookbook. She has authored four cookbooks in all, and this latest one focuses on how to make vibrant, mouthwatering Mediterranean recipes in the Instant Pot and air fryer. Emily knows everything there is to know about the capability of these machines and how to use them to make your life in the kitchen easier.
As a working mom, Emily can attest to how hard it can be to get a dinner on the table the entire family will enjoy. Enter Mediterranean cuisine which is among the healthiest, most sustainable and tastiest food in the world. These recipes are not only approachable, but they are absolutely delicious!
I was lucky enough to get an advance copy of the book so that I could experiment with some of the recipes, and I've had so much fun doing that over the past few weeks. I can tell you that each recipe is written with extreme focus to detail and in the case of my testing, each dish has been easy to execute and delicious to eat. In our virtual class coming up on Saturday, October 16 at 10am CST, you'll watch Emily prepare an entire meal, including dessert, in the Instant Pot:
- Italian Sausage Ragù
- Olive Oil Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Prosecco Poached Pears
As I perused the book, marking more pages than I care to admit to my "to make" list, I was especially drawn to the chapter on Dips, Spreads and Breads. I make yogurt in my Instant Pot often, but I've never used the Yogurt function to proof bread. I was pleased to learn it cuts down the time it takes the dough to rise nearly in half.
Emily gives props to Chicago restaurant Galit in her story for this recipe. I am in total agreement that it is absolutely amazing Middle Eastern food, especially their football-size heart-baked pitas, but this version comes pretty darn close!
Whole Wheat Pita
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes: 8 pitas
2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
Pinch of sugar
2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
1. If using active dry yeast, whisk together the yeast and warm water in a small bowl and let it sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Note: Active dry yeast and instant yeast are interchangeable. The only difference is that you don't have to activate the instant yeast. You can just add it to your dry ingredients.
2. Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, salt, sugar and olive oil in a large bowl and stir to combine. If using instant yeast, add it to the flour mixture.
3. Gradually add the water-yeast mixture (or just the warm water, if using instant yeast) to the flour and stir with a fork until a dry, shaggy dough comes together. (You may not need all the water, depending on the humidity in the air and the age of your flour.)
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Note: I used my KitchenAid mixture with a dough hook for 7 minutes because I am lazy, and we've already established that I like power tools. The dough was the perfect elasticity.
5. Place the trivet in the inner pot of your electric pressure cooker. Lightly oil a bowl small enough to fit inside the pot. Place the dough in the bowl and place the bowl on top of the trivet.
6. Close the lid and make sure the pressure release valve is set to "Venting." Select the Yogurt function and press the Adjust button until "More" is illuminated. (The 8-hour timer will begin, but you will not need it. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
7. Punch down the risen dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces ad roll each piece into a ball. (If not baking right away, you can place the balls on a baking sheet, cover, and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake, up to overnight.) Note: I did this and let the dough balls come to room temperature in the morning before cooking.
8. Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat until water sprinkled on the skilled sizzles on contact.
9. Working with one ball at a time and keeping the others covered with a clean tea towel, use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. It should be very elastic.
Place the rolled-out dough in the hot skillet and cook until it begins to puff up and the underside is browned and charred in spots, about 1 minute. (To really encourage the dough to puff, cover the skillet briefly.) Flip with tongs or a spatula and cook until the second side is browned and charred in spots, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer the cooked pita to a cooling rack and repeat with the next ball of dough. If the pitas begin to char too much or too quickly, turn the heat down to medium-high or medium as needed. Note: I wanted to grill the pita but it was raining, so I used my Le Creuset grill pan on the stove. I got it nice and hot but felt a little like I was cooking pancakes. You know how the first pancake is never that great but the rest of the batch are perfect? My first two pita weren't my best, but numbers 3 through 8 were perfection! I used a large skillet lid to cover the grill pan to encourage the puff and it worked great.
10. Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover pitas can be stored, covered on the county for several days or used to make Fatteh.
NOTE: These pitas are also wonderful grilled. Get your grill smoking hot and oil the grill grates well. Place as many pitas as will fit directly on the grates. Grill for a minute or so, until they start to puff up and the underside is nicely browned with a little char, then flip and cook on the second side for 30 to 60 seconds.
I took Emily's advice and made her Chickpea Fatteh (recipe in Instantly Mediterranean) with some of the pita. This toasted pita with chickpeas and yogurt-tahini sauce utilizes other leftover ingredients you may have if you are cooking your way through this book (yogurt, chickpeas, etc.). Dried chickpeas are cooked in the Instant Pot, and with no soaking and only about an hour total time, you have perfectly cooked chickpeas. This dish made for a perfect vegetarian lunch, and now I want to top everything with that sauce!
I used the rest of the pita for Emily's Fattoush with Fried Halloumi (recipe in Instantly Mediterranean) and was not disappointed. This was the only air fryer recipe I tested, but I could not pass up trying Halloumi in the air fryer. Plus, I love Fattoush which is a bread salad, similar to Fatteh. You use the air fryer to crisp up the pita bread and cook the Halloumi, which is a squeaky, firm Middle Eastern cheese that does not melt when grilled or fried.
Finally, I ate the rest of the pita with some labneh balls (recipe in Instantly Mediterranean) sprinkled with Za'atar. I'm not a newbie when it comes to making cheese in the Instant Pot, but I usually make feta for Saag Paneer. Labneh is known as yogurt cheese because it's thick and creamy, and it's especially easy to make in the Instant Pot. You can use it as a dip or garnish for soups or stews or simply smear it on bread. If you let the labneh drain even longer (48+ hours), you can shape it into small balls and preserve them in jars with oils and spices.
I also made Emily's Classic Tabbouleh with Parsley and Mint (recipe in Instantly Mediterranean) to go with all of my bread salads. I love Tabbouleh but as Emily points out in the book, bulgur wheat can come with a lot of different instructions for preparation depending on what variety it is. Instead of guessing, use her Instant Pot method: 12 minutes using the Rice function. The grains were firm and not gummy at all!
Want more recipes from Instantly Mediterranean? Purchase the book today, then reserve your spot in our virtual Instantly Mediterranean demonstration class on Saturday, October 16 at 10am CST. Emily will share her tips and tricks for preparing an entire menu in the Instant Pot, including dessert! You'll get to ask questions about anything in the book so start your own Instantly Mediterranean experiments now. I'll have quite a few more of these recipes under my belt by then!
In honor of Emily's Instantly Mediterranean book release today, using your Instant Pot or air fryer is this week's challenge in our private Facebook group. Join, use one or both of your appliances this week and share your creations with other home cooks.