Spinach Mushroom Beef and Tomato Stuffed Pitas with Labne

Spinach Mushroom Beef and Tomato Stuffed Pitas with Labne
Stuffed pita time! Deliciously easy ground beef and veggies mix together in a thick tomato sauce to make the perfect filling for a hot and doughy pita bread. Labne (or Greek yogurt) smeared generously inside the pita brings an added creamy and tangy bite to these yummy stuffed pitas.

Inspiration, thoughts, notes

It’s clearly been too long since I’ve posted a Middle Eastern inspired recipe.  This one is so good.  Continuing on the delicious stuffing trend from my last post (see my fabulous recipe for stuffed acorn squash!),  these stuffed pitas have all the yummy ingredients inside with so much flavor.  Ground beef is mixed with mushrooms, garlic, spinach and onions all together in a delicious tomato sauce to make the stuffing.  Creamy labne is smeared generously into each pita for a tangy bite with the stuffing mixture to make the perfect pairing!

One of the subtle stars of this recipe is labne, which is basically a Middle Eastern super extra strained kefir cheese yogurt.  It is very similar to Greek yogurt, but tastes even more tangy and thick – as if Green yogurt were strained even more.  Honestly,  labne is so much better!  In my opinion of course, but it really is delicious and so healthy.  I have a spoonful or two every day even if I don’t add it to a recipe.  I am so excited that you can now find great brands of labne in regular grocery stores in San Diego right by the cream cheese area, so now I can grab one or two from my local Vons or Ralphs.  I know this might not be the case for everyone in all locations, so if you cannot find it at your local grocery store, either try an ethic market or just use plain Greek yogurt!  Greek yogurt is still delicious and creamy and will be just fine with this recipe if you can’t find labne.  

 

 

Labne, or the Greek yogurt, give the perfect contrast to the warm meat and veggie sauce that will go inside the pita bread.  You wont regret making this one.

A few notes on these stuffed pitas.  The biggest thing you will want to watch out for when you make this is to make sure you simmer your mixture for long enough.  You want to thicken up that tomato sauce mixed with the meat until it is almost similar to a stew or very thick sauce.  This is extra important, because once you add the spinach it will add a bit more water to the mix, so make sure to continue to simmer after you’ve added the spinach to continue to thicken it up.  This will also avoid liquidy stuffing that will drip everywhere.  These can be a bit messy anyway since you eat them with your hands, and some liquid is necessary from the sauce, but a bit more simmering down to a thicker sauce is better.  

I only used 2 cloves of garlic for this recipe so I don’t give Eli a garlic overload, but I would definitely add more if you love garlic!  Honestly I’d add 5 if it were just for me.  You can also just use 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder if you prefer a lighter garlic flavor.  

Lastly, I used thick, soft and fluffy fresh wheat pitas for this recipe.  I also just prefer these to regular white pitas, but both are great!  I actually got these (and most of my pita) at the Middle Eastern market near my parents’ house, and they are so good.  The pita is so fresh and soft, I honestly ate a half just by itself before I started cooking.  

That fluffy pita, delicious meat and veggie stuffing mixed with the tangy labne…can’t wait for dinner!  Enjoy this one! 

stuffed pitas on plate

Spinach Mushroom Beef and Tomato Stuffed Pitas with Labne

Stuffed pita time! Deliciously easy ground beef and veggies mix together in a thick tomato sauce to make the perfect filling for a hot and doughy pita bread. Labne (or Greek yogurt) smeared generously inside the pita brings an added creamy and tangy bite to these yummy stuffed pitas.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Middle Eastern, Syrian

Ingredients
  

  • 3 thick pita breads cut in half; I used thick whole wheat pitas
  • Labne (or plain Greek yogurt is fine!) about 2 tablespoons per pita half; see notes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 brown onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces mushrooms sliced
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • salt and pepper

Instructions
 

  • Add the olive oil to a medium skillet and heat on medium high until nice and hot. Add the garlic, onions and mushrooms and cook until the onions and garlic are just slightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the ground beef to the mix, breaking up the meat and mixing together with the garlic, mushrooms and onions until browned and almost cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce and paste to the pan. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until it thickens to a sauce texture.
  • Add the spinach and cook for 10 minutes more, allowing the mix to thicken further. You want to simmer this mix until the tomato sauce has thickened quite a bit and the texture is similar to a very thick sauce (not soupy).
  • Now to stuff the pitas! Heat up the pita bread first. Spread your labne (or Greek yogurt!) onto one side of the inside pocket of the pita half then scoop the beef mixture into the pita generously. Enjoy!

Notes

Labne is basically a Middle Eastern extra strained Greek yogurt cheese, and in my opinion so much better.  But Greek yogurt is great too, and plain Greek yogurt can definitely sub for labne if you can't find it at your local grocery store!  San Diego's local grocery stores that I have been to carry two different brands of labne which is great.  You can find it near the cream cheese.  If you can't find it at your favorite grocery store, you can definitely find it at an ethic market. 
Make sure you allow your mixture to simmer long enough to really get nice and thick.  This recipe can get slightly messy if you accidentally poke a hole or rip your pita and have juices running out, but you can avoid this a bit more with a deliciously thick sauce mixture.  
Keyword bread, cherry tomatoes, Greek yogurt, ground beef, labne, paste, pita, sauce, spinach, stuffed


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