Festive Flatbread is as pretty as it is delicious – and it’s riffable! Since my husband retired he has gotten into doing some cooking, much to my delight. He now bakes the best challah, using my recipe, and is branching out to pita, pizzas and other flatbreads, with the occasional curry or stir-fry. The Festive Flatbread is named for the myriad grilled vegetables with all of their beautiful rich colors and flavors. It makes full use of summer’s bounty.
This recipe evolved because I was trying to clean out my vegetable drawer, and has become a favorite dinner for the two of us. We use just a shmear of homemade pesto sauce on the base, but you could also just brush it with a flavored olive oil. There is just a dusting of cheese, which could be left off if you wanted to keep this vegan. However you choose to make this wonderful flatbread just remember that sometimes less is more. Make sure that each element has the best flavors and don’t overdo it.
The shaping is kind of freeform so don’t fret if it isn’t a perfect circle or rectangle. And while we eat this as a dinner for two, if cut into smaller squares, this flatbread would also be a lovely appetizer with a beer or nice glass of wine. The version shown uses zucchini, red pepper, Portobello mushroom, corn and grape tomatoes topped with arugula. It’s a great combination and the Portobello mushrooms give off less liquid than some other mushrooms. But if you have eggplant or other kinds of peppers, use them. Caramelized onion – yummmmm! Even thinly sliced potato would be great. Let your imagination and vegetable drawer rule the results!
We did use the same basic flatbread recipe with a red sauce, pepperoni and cheese for a very thin crust pizza. And while it was delicious, the veggie version remains our favorite.
For other thin crust pizza/flatbreads:
I’m going to turn the blog over to my husband now since this is really his handiwork.
In Andrew’s words
Hi! It’s me again, Lisa’s husband, the guy who just recently started learning how to bake and cook. The recipe I’m sharing with you I adapted from Laura Vitale’s Grilled Veggie Flatbread, and it’s a wonderful summer dish, fresh, light, and flavorful.
Interested in my thoughts about learning to cook? Then keep reading.
Not so much? Then skip to the next section. My feelings won’t be hurt.
But I also want to share with you how my attitude about recipes and cooking changed over time. Here’s the thing: I started out knowing almost nothing about cooking, so when I’d watch a YouTube video where the presenter talked about “options” or was vague about some of the details, I’d get really nervous. How exactly am I supposed to cook this dish? What’s being left out that everyone else apparently already knows how to do?
This flatbread recipe is a good example. After I made it a few times I started to understand that you could make it slightly differently, or with different ingredients, and it would still be good. Or the next time I made it I could adjust it to what Lisa and I liked better (e.g. less pesto). So I’ll do things both ways: I’ll highlight how the basic idea of the recipe is simple, allowing you to make changes based on what you like or what vegetables you have on hand that night. But in the photos and descriptions I’ll also describe exactly how I made it, trying to be as simple and specific as possible. OK, on to the recipe!
Yield: Dinner for 2 or 4 to 6 as an appetizer
For Flatbread dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp active dry yeast
½ tsp granulated sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup warm water
½ tbsp olive oil
For the topping
1 zucchini or 1/2 of a green and 1/2 of a yellow
1 red/orange pepper
1 ear of lightly-cooked corn
1 large portobello mushroom
7 cherry or grape tomatoes
Parmigiano cheese, grated
Mozzarella cheese, shredded
fresh basil leaves
Instructions for those who are more experienced cooks
1. You grill some summer vegetables you have on hand
(You slice them up, toss them in a bowl with some oil, salt, pepper and some thyme or oregano, then put them on a grill and cook them until they start showing some char marks. Then take them off the grill and set them aside.)
2. You partially bake a simple flatbread. The instructions are below.
3. You put some basil pesto (or maybe some flavored olive oil) on top and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano. You put on those delicious vegetables, some oil, some Mozzarella and then pop it back into the oven.
4. After about 5 minutes you take it out, top it with baby arugula and basil leaves and a drizzle of oil. You put it back in the oven for a minute, then take it out, cut it into pieces and serve.
Step by Step Instructions
Place the yeast, sugar, and water in a small bowl. Mix, cover, then let sit for about 5-10 minutes. The yeast should look slightly foamy, showing that it is working. (If you instead used instant yeast you don’t need to proof the yeast.)
Place the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix together. Add the yeast/water mixture and the oil, attach the dough hook and run at medium speed for about 4 minutes. The result should be a smooth, supple dough.
Take out the dough, knead it slightly into a ball. Place it into an oiled bowl and cover. Leave the bowl in a draft-free spot in the kitchen. I like to use the microwave. Let it rise for 1 hour or until doubled. How quickly it rises will depend on how warm your kitchen is.
Now (or even earlier) prepare the vegetables: slice the zucchini into rounds about ¼” thick; slice open the pepper, discard the seeds and stem, chop into 1” pieces; slice the Portobello into strips about ½” thick; leave the corn on the cob; slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
Put all the vegetables in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, dried thyme or oregano, toss all together. Place the vegetables on a hot grill, or on a stove-top grill pan, one layer at a time. Turn them when you see char marks. (Alternatively the vegetables could be cooked in a skillet or even in a 425 degree F oven.)
Place your pizza steel (or stone or upside-down baking sheet) into the oven.
Preheat oven to 485°F
On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 3/8 to ¼” thick.
Transfer it to a parchment-covered pizza peel or upside-down baking sheet. Slide it onto the heated pizza steel (or stone or upside-down baking sheet) and let it bake. Use a sharp knife to pop any large bubbles you see forming.
After 5 minutes take it out. It is partially baked.
Lightly brush the flatbread with pesto sauce or flavored EVOO, then sprinkle some grated Parmigiano cheese on top, if using.
Layer the grilled vegetables on top, but leave the cherry tomatoes for later. (Slice the corn kernels off of the cob first!)
Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle a pinch of salt, then top with shredded Mozzarella (see photos).
Put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes.
Take it out of the oven, add the halved cherry tomatoes, baby arugula, fresh basil leaves, and fresh oregano.
Turn off the oven and put the flatbread back in just to warm up the topping. Keep an eye on it – the baby arugula wilts very fast. Then take it out and serve.