Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Endless Possibilities in the Lavash Pinwheel

When I first encountered lavash pinwheels I was in my late twenties and it seemed to be the sudden trendy item bought by Costco bulk card carriers for any occasion requiring food for many mouths. It seemed like every banquet table, after work mixer, holiday cocktail party or business meeting boasted a tray or two. Like the great Jewish bagel and Japanese sushi, it was one of those foods that suddenly became popular amongst the likes of the great white middle class when the fifties palate got old and started craving a little suburban diversity. But unlike its true Middle Eastern root uses, the lavash rolls I encountered in those years were always a bastardized deli version stuffed with ham, cheese, olives and mayonnaise and other cold cuts parading as something exotic. 

Traditionally, the thin unleavened flatbread is a Persian, Turkish and Armenian staple because of its diversity. When fresh, the bread is quite flexible and used to make wrap sandwiches that please because of their ability to host multiple types of satisfying filling. Even though it can dry out quickly, it can be stored for up to a year and reconstituted with water or used dry as an additive with butter, milk and cheese to dishes that need toppings or a starchy component to soak and sop up liquids.

I like the bread because it is low calorie, non-fat and lacks any cholesterol but also because the possibilities are endless when it comes to thinking up creative strains of the pinwheel. Basically you can spread anything on the full sheet in thin layers, roll it up into a nice compact log, refrigerate it for long enough to have the flavors merge (at least twenty minutes but no longer than a day) and slice and serve. One lavash roll can be cut into ten pinwheels serving four to five people for snacks or two people as an entrée.

The real fun comes in thinking about the stuffing. It is a good thing to roll out with refrigerator leftovers. This past New Year’s Day, we watched the Rose Bowl after a trip to the local Armenian market from which I had purchased a bounty of authentic dips and spreads. My lavash offerings included one with roasted eggplant spread, crumbled feta cheese and slices of oily, salted black olives and another with roasted red pepper vegetable spread, leftover shredded pork from a Mexican chili verde meal and labne yogurt cheese - both accentuated by dunks into tzatziki cucumber yogurt dip. A few days later, for breakfast I rolled up a superfood version containing tahini, acai powder, rose jam and sunflower seeds. 


And for the fourth piece of the bread left I covered it with hummus, carrot puree and tabouleh and dipped the pieces in comforting tomato soup!

Lavash is easy to find with a quick trip to any true Middle Eastern market where there are literally shelves offering different types and brands. If you wish to make rolls, make sure you purchase a bag on the day of or a day before you plan on using it.

No comments:

Post a Comment