By Alison Boyd-Savage
Whipping up a batch of homemade flatbreads is a total win. Don’t let the thought of baking your own yeasted bread daunt you, you will be amazed at how quickly this recipe comes together from just a few pantry staples. A superior alternative to store-bought pita, you can use to assemble sandwiches, dip in hummus, create an impromptu pizza base, or spread with a variety of vegetable and meat toppings to make a tasty light lunch or supper.
For a delicious spiced lamb version, I combined the flavors of cinnamon, allspice and cumin, with the sweet and sour of pomegranate molasses and a sprinkling of pignoli nuts for crunch. The optional tahini and parsley sauce can double as dip served with plain flatbread. While the dough rests on the counter, you can assemble your toppings and mix the salad, while still having time for a glass of wine before you sit down to eat.
June is a peak month for tender field greens, before the heat of summer sends them dormant for a few short weeks. For our accompanying salad, I have looked beyond the standard offerings, to combine tender lettuces with arugula, baby chard, mustard greens and dandelion leaves, all sourced from local farm stands. The leaves are best with a simple dressing of chopped scallions, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt.
Spiced Lamb Flatbreads
The quantity below is enough for four large flatbreads to serve plain, or eight small breads with lamb topping. You can substitute ground beef for the lamb, although it is not as tasty. Both pomegranate molasses and Aleppo pepper are versatile and flavorful additions to your store cupboard and really enhance the dish. Both are easily available online through Amazon or at www.kalyustyan.com You can substitute ½ tsp paprika and a pinch of red chili flakes for the Aleppo pepper. If you do not have the pomegranate molasses, your filling will still taste fine. The finished dough must not be sticky. It is important to keep all the surfaces well- floured when working and proving the dough.
1. Flatbread Dough
2 ¼ cups white bread flour, plus extra for dusting work surface
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. active dried yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and slowly mix into the flour by hand. When all the water has been incorporated, add the olive and knead to mix thoroughly. Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for five minutes until soft and pliable and no longer sticky. Cover dough with a cloth and leave to rest for an hour on a floured surface.
2. Spiced Lamb Topping
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion finely chopped
1 ¼ lbs. ground lamb
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground allspice
1 ½ tablespoons tomato puree
2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp. water
¼ cup pignoli nuts
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook on medium heat until softened, before adding the garlic and cooking for a further minute. Add the lamb, Aleppo pepper, cinnamon, cumin and allspice. Cook over medium heat, breaking lamb up with a spoon, stirring in the tomato puree after a couple of minutes. When the meat is lightly browned and cooked through, season with salt and pepper. Mix the pomegranate molasses with the warm water and add to pan. Warm through briefly, remove from heat and set aside.
3. Parsley Tahini Sauce
1 large garlic clove peeled
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup tahini
Juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp. Warm water
Half cup Greek yoghurt
4 tbsp. fresh parsley, washed and dried thoroughly
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Puree the garlic clove with a pinch of sea salt in a pestle and mortar. Whisk the tahini, lemon juice, warm water and pureed garlic together. Add the yoghurt and parsley and season with salt and pepper. The consistency should be creamy. If the mixture is too thick, thin down with a little more water. Can be made ahead and stored in refrigerator for up to three days.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Divide dough into eight pieces. On a floured surface roll out into thin circles about 5 1/2 inches in diameter.
Flour two large sheet pans and divide the dough circles between them. Spread 3 tbsps. lamb, mixture on each flatbread, leaving a ½ inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the tops with pignoli nuts.
Place one of the pans on the middle shelf of the preheated oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until bread is cooked through. Repeat with the remaining tray of flatbread.
Bread should be lightly colored, but not browned. Drizzle the finished flat breads with sauce and a little extra parsley, before serving warm with the green salad.
Mixture of local seasonal greens, washed and dried thoroughly (arugula, baby chard, lettuces, dandelion greens, mustard greens etc.)
4 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
Juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Toss dressing with salad five minutes before serving.
If you are serving flatbreads without toppings, divide the basic dough into four pieces. Roll out thinly on a well-floured surface. Flour two large sheet pans and place two breads on each. Bake separately in the center of a preheated 450-degree oven for about 5-10 minutes. Bread should bubble up and color slightly but should not be too crisp. Serve warm with your favorite dip and salad.
Alison Boyd-Savage worked in advertising before running a catering business in her native London. After moving to Long Island, she first settled in Bridgehampton, where she worked as a private chef. Five years later, the quiet beauty of the North Fork prompted a move to Southold. On weekends she loves to entertain, and can be found scouting the local farm stands for seasonal produce and visiting the markets for local fish, meat and eggs. Each month, she now shares some of these dishes on the back page of the East End Beacon.