Yesterday was the Washington Nationals first playoff game – ever! I didn’t grow up much of a sports fan (to put it mildly), but came to love baseball in law school and have remained a semi-devoted fan ever since. My allegiances have shifted, from the Yankees when I lived in New York to the Baltimore Orioles when I moved to DC and we didn’t have a home team – and finally now to our very own Nats. I’ve been with them from their first days in DC and lived through seasons when underdog was a charitable way to describe their status. So being able to watch them in a playoff was a true thrill. The game against the Cardinals was a cliffhanger right up to the end, when the Nats won 3-2.
Although I do love watching baseball in a stadium, there are many benefits to being invited to watch with friends on their big screen, high def TV, sitting in comfortable chairs, with plenty of great food. Much as I love the All-American peanuts and popcorn, ballpark sandwiches and hot dogs, I’ll readily admit that the spread yesterday beat any ballpark food I’ve had. Chicken wings, roasted tiny fingerling potatoes with chimichurri (a parsley-based sauce with red pepper, oil and vinegar), a nacho cheese platter, baked brie cheese and crackers, and my contribution – hummus with vegetables and homemade pita chips.
Homemade pita chips are incredibly simple and quick to make. They are also much lighter than the store-bought versions and have a certain “wow factor” that comes from being irresistible but not fried. Because you have to cut repetitively, brush each wedge, and sprinkle salt and herbs somewhat carefully, this recipe is well suited to those among us who enjoy the Zen of proofreading, needlepoint, or painting window frames.
Homemade Pita Chips
Servings – 128 chips if 8 pita rounds, 96 if 6 rounds. Cost – $2-3
- 1 bag of large pita rounds
- Olive oil (between a few tablespoons and ⅓ cup)
- Coarse salt – either Kosher or coarse sea salt
- Thyme or other herbs – I used fresh thyme from my deck
- Cutting board
- Large knife
- Large cookie sheets, preferably with rims (so crumbs don’t fall off)
- Pastry brush (in a pinch you can use a spoon, but it doesn’t work as well)
- Small bowl for oil
- Tiny bowls or other containers for salt and herbs
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Cut each pita round into a semi-circle.
- Cut each pita semi-circle into 4 wedges.
- Gently open each wedge and separate it into the two parts. (Each one is doubled because the pita is a pocket bread.)
- Lay the wedges on cookie sheets with the rough side up.
- Gently brush each chip with extra virgin olive oil.
- Lightly sprinkle coarse salt and any optional herbs. Try to aim the salt and herbs onto the brushed oil; they need oil below in order to stick on the pita chip. Also sprinkling by hand (rather than using a salt shaker or herb jar with holes) will give you more control over how much you use.
- Bake for approximately 10 minutes, watching the chips carefully to make sure they don’t burn. If you put 2 cookie sheets in the oven at the same time, halfway through (after baking for 5 minutes), switch their positions and turn each around for even baking. Even if they get a bit dark, you may like them. My second batch looked too dark when I first took them out. But it turned out they were tasty – like dark pretzels, only crispier.
This isn’t a recipe, so much as a template, which you can vary by sprinkling on other herbs or spices, using whole wheat pita, or by using an herb-infused olive oil instead of plain. I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use these chips – next time I’m going to try an Indian-style version with fresh roasted cumin that would go with a refreshing, yogurt-based dip.