I don’t really understand the concept of flatbread. I do know that, of late, it’s become an unfortunate fixture on a lot of restaurant menus both high and low brow, see: T.G.I. Friday’s appetizer list.
To me, flatbread has always seemed like the estranged, dope-fiend brother of the classic, always-endearing pizza. Maybe it’s because restaurants go to such great lengths to distinguish the two by slathering barbecue sauce and nacho cheese all over them. Human behavior can be questionable like that.
Only under one condition can I accept flatbread, and that’s if I’m the one controlling the ingredients. Micromanaging flatbread is the only way to go.
So after a two-day, post-holiday work week when everything in life seems utterly out of your control (New Year’s resolutions, snow boots that make your ankles feel arthritic after a day’s wear, hair that looks greasy after sitting under a hat for all of 15 minutes just to avoid losing sensation in your ears on the way to the office) you need to take it out on some flatbread.
Micromanaging is all about getting the results you want. Pick ingredients that don’t fight back. Vegetables are a good choice (especially on a night when there’s no way in hell I’m taking the elevator up 21 floors to haul ass on the treadmill next to some girl in yoga pants and a bralette). Red onions are a great choice, especially when sautéed/caramelized real quick with a few pinches of this little miracle:
I also went with cucumbers and tomatoes (that may or may not have been picked out of a last night’s salad leftover because we can’t all have photographic memories of what’s left in our produce drawer…) For sauce I chose pesto (from a jar, not from an Ina Garten recipe…fresh basil is expensive and impossible to find in bulk) and for cheese: FETA. Wildcard, right?
Since I haven’t mentioned it yet, you’ve probably safely assumed that my dough is not homemade. Some yeast elf from Trader Joe’s crafted it. I just spent 10 minutes working myself up to the point of a breakdown trying to roll it out wide enough to feed two people.
But even the worst dough meltdowns come to an end and soon enough we were throwing down this relatively easy, way better than anything you’ve had at Friday’s, Mediterranean Flatbread. Med Bread, I lovingly call it.
Makes one 12-inch round (or ~14 inch rectangular) flatbread. Serves two decently hungry, tired people.
1 pre-made pizza dough ball
1/2 of a cucumber, chopped
1/2 of a red onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup diced tomato
1 tbsp olive oil
A couple pinches of brown sugar (light or dark will work)
A few tablespoons full of pesto
1/2 cup feta cheese
Flour to coat a baking sheet/your hands
Start by reading the instruction on your dough ball. Most require a few minutes sitting out a room temperature. It’ll also tell you what the oven needs to be preheated to (around 350 F should do you right.)
Prep the vegetables. It’s always helpful if you have a sous chef/boyfriend to chop tomatoes (because you hate tomato guts). Once the onions are sliced, heat the olive oil until it glistens like Christian Bale’s sweaty forehead in American Hustle. Toss in the onions and sauté, adding the pinches of
crack brown sugar. Keep moving them around until they start looking golden, soft and worm-like (yum), no more than 10 minutes or so.
Flour a baking sheet/cookie tray and get your hands powdered. Roll the dough. Numerous methods work here: pressing it outward with your fingertips, draping it over your fists and stretching it out in a circular motion, crying to the dough gods for help, etc. Once it’s between 12-14 inches wide (and not stretched too thin), spread on the pesto. Sprinkle on half of the feta. Add the cucumber, tomatoes and onions. Add the rest of your cheese.
Cook time depends on the dough you buy. Trader Joe’s recommends 10-12 minutes (if you are OK with a softer crust; give it an extra minute or 2, and press the crust area thinner, if you prefer it on the crispier side.)