04 May 2013

Spring Veggie Ricotta Pita - Two Ways

Meatless May is off to a delicious start!  Lunch on day one was a bit rocky due to a lack of planning prior to my trip to the market, but a quick extra ingredient stop quickly smoothed it all out.  Outside of snubbing a delectable-looking cheese ball at work and avoiding the chorizo samples at the store, we really haven't missed meat at all.  It's giving us lots of room to be creative with our cooking, and this little lunch is a perfect example of thinking outside the box done right.

Since the hubs and I are both ardent exercisers, protein is a very important staple of our diet.  And since meat is out, we're using alternative sources to power our workouts.  Ricotta has been one of my favorites to play with thus far.  Its mild, milky sweetness is very filling and versatile.  Besides rocking the socks off of any lasagna, it's absolutely fabulous with the beautiful spring greens that are currently at the market, such as asparagus and peas.  Which both, by the way, contain a surprising amount of protein (it's amazing what you can Google now-a-days).  By serving them all together in this dish, you end up with 20 grams of protein per serving, plenty to leave you feeling satisfied hours after eating.  Plus, you get a nice dose of calcium as well.  Go bones!

Pitas are great stuffed, but we also love using them as little pizza crusts.  Their chewy thickness makes a great base for heavier toppings such as fresh veggies and thick ricotta.  So here we give you two options - stuffed and unstuffed.  Take your pick, but both ways are delicious.  I like to add a few slices of tomato to the stuffed version, and you could easily lay slices underneath your asparagus spears on the open-faced version (the hubs was feeling like a tomato-free lunch).

This dish is incredibly light and fresh.  The peas and ricotta bring a wonderful sweet flavor to the hearty whole wheat pita, and the asparagus adds a nice meaty element, giving you something to really chew on.  A sprinkling of feta provides a nice little tang in contrast to all the subtle sweetness for a delightful lunch on a warm spring day.  If you're packing this for the work week, wait to stuff/top your pita until right before eating as they tend to become soggy after sitting for a while.  But it's a great little meal that is sure to brighten up any day.

Veggies, protein, calcium and whole grains in one delicious little package.  What's not to love?!

Spring Veggie Ricotta Pita - Two Ways (2 servings)

  • 2 small whole wheat pitas
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 c part skim ricotta cheese
  • 14 spears asparagus
  • 1/3 c shelled peas
  • 4 thin slices tomato (optional)
  • 2 tbs reduced fat feta
In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork until smooth.  Add the garlic, lemon juice, pepper and salt.  Mix together until smooth, adding more lemon or salt if desired.  Add the ricotta and stir until well combined.  Set aside.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat, or turn your barbecue onto medium high*.  When the grilling surface is hot, place the asparagus directly on the heat.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, turning once or twice, until asparagus are bright and slightly tender.  Remove with tongs to a cutting board to cool.

For a stuffed pita:
Cut the pitas and asparagus spears in half.  Gently open each halved pita and spread with a generous amount of the avocado ricotta mixture (about 3 tablespoons for each half).  Top with the asparagus and sliced tomato.  Sprinkle with a generous amount of peas and feta cheese.  

For a open-faced pita:
Place the pitas on two plates.  Spread half of the avocado ricotta mixture evenly over the top of each (about 7 tablespoons per pita).  Lay the sliced tomato (if desired) and asparagus on top of the spread and sprinkle with a generous amount of peas and feta.  Pick up and eat like a slice of pizza (even the hubs ate this with his fingers, and he's a fork-and-knifer for pizza).  

*I like my asparagus lightly grilled, but you could easily cut out the cooking and serve with raw asparagus, too.  

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