Seasoned beef and vegetables stuff pitas and feed the needs of midweek diners

March 12, 1997|By ROB KASPER

THERE ARE high-falutin' dishes, the ones you cook to impress company. Then there are the basic, weeknight offerings, meals you make to satisfy the homefolks.

Beth Zorab's beef pita is the stuff midweek suppers are made of. She makes the dish by stuffing slices of seasoned beef inside pita bread, tossing in some onions and peppers and topping the whole thing off with dollops of salsa and sour cream.

You can hold one of these beef pitas in your hand, which makes it easy to eat. It has some zip, which also makes the eating easy.

I tasted these beef pitas last weekend at the 1997 Maryland Beef Cook-Off, a contest held as part of the annual convention of the Maryland Cattle Industry in Hagerstown.

The recipe won first prize in the cook-off, an honor that gave Zorab $250 and a chance to compete in the National Beef Cook-Off to be held in Tampa, Fla., this September. Her recipe will be sent to a screening committee in Chicago which, sometime this summer, will announce 15 finalists who will compete in Tampa.

Marjorie Farr of Rockville won second place in the Maryland contest with a Thai-gazpacho grilled steak. Dorrie Mednick of Baltimore finished third with hot-diggity meatballs. And Kay Shaprow of Baltimore got honorable mention for her Mexican beef pie, as did Hubert Scott of Timonium for his Dijon pepper steak with jalapeno marmalade. (A free booklet containing these recipes can be obtained by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Maryland Beef Council, P.O. Box 259, Sykesville 21784.)

Zorab figures that the average serving of her dish is two pita pockets. That seemed like a lot. But when the other judges and I tasted this dish, we quickly polished off one pocket and were ready for a second helping.

Beth Zorab's beef pita pockets

Serves 4, 2 pockets each

1 pound boneless top sirloin or top round, cut into strips 3/4 -inch and 1/4 -inch long

2 tablespoons chili seasoning mix

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large onion, halved and cut into 3/8 inch slices

2 medium green peppers cut into strips 1 1/2 inches long, 3/8 inches wide

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons lime juice

4 white or whole wheat pita breads, halved and warmed in microwave for 45 seconds

2/3 cup chunky salsa

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

In medium bowl, toss steak strips with chili seasoning. Heat large (12-inch) nonstick skillet to medium heat. Sprinkle with salt. Stir-fry onion and green peppers 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp and tender. Remove to large bowl.

In same skillet on medium-high heat, combine meat, 3 tablespoons water and lime juice. Stir and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until outside of beef is no longer pink. (If the mixture appears dry, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water). Reduce to low heat. Add onion and peppers. Stir well and remove from heat.

Divide mixture evenly to fill 8 pita pocket halves. Top each with 1 tablespoon of salsa and one tablespoon of sour cream.

Note: For ease in slicing beef, cut when partially frozen.

Pub Date: 3/12/97

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