Flat breads offer variety for sandwiches

July 18, 1999|By CeCe Sullivan | CeCe Sullivan,seattle times

Flat breads come from every corner of the world, with variations as diverse as the cultures from which they originate. Their increased availability and our exposure to them has transformed the American sandwich.

Stuffed flat breads are actually better when made a couple hours ahead and wrapped tightly. As the zesty flavors of the fillings are absorbed, the breads soften but still hold their shapes.

Tortillas: These thin, round flat breads from Mexico are made with unleavened wheat flour or cornmeal dough. Use the round burrito-sized flour tortillas for stuffing and wrapping because they roll easily into self-contained packages. Although it's not necessary to heat the tortillas before using, it does bring out their flavor and makes them more pliable. You can put each tortilla into a hot dry skillet for about 7 seconds on each side. Or stack the tortillas between two damp paper towels and microwave for about 10 seconds per tortilla. Wrap the tortillas in a clean kitchen towel after heating to keep them pliable.

Pita bread: The traditional pocket bread from eastern Mediterranean countries. When the dough puffs during baking, then deflates when cooled, a pocket is formed. Check the expiration date on the package as this bread dries out quickly. Store in the refrigerator, or freeze for later use. It's not necessary to heat pitas before stuffing. To fill, cut a thin strip from the top of the pita, or cut in halves.

Lavash: This flat bread has its origins in Armenia. It's pliable enough to roll without heating first. Store in the refrigerator if using within a day or so, but freeze for longer storage. If it does dry out, heat in a microwave for 5 seconds to soften. To fill, lay the fillings in a thick horizontal strip about a third of the way up, then roll. Or scatter the fillings over the bread, leaving about a half-inch around the edge and roll.

Focaccia: The thin, chewy bread of Italy can be found flavored with herbs, olives, sun-dried tomatoes and caramelized onions. The plain brown-and-serve focaccia are a little thicker, and are a good choice for vinaigrette-dressed fillings that can soak into the bread.

Pub Date: 07/18/99

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