Middle Eastern flatbread is all sorts of delicious! Plus, the secret to crunchy crust at home. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not unicorn tears!
I’m not trying to make you jealous, but Sunday was 70 degrees and sunny here in Austin (we had a very rough two weeks of winter, I swear!), so we decided to make it a boozy brunch kinda day. Mimosa or bloody Mary. The hardest of all the first world problems! On the walk to brunch, we saw a car driving with a pristine Christmas tree roped to the top, and for a brief moment I thought, ooh, it’s almost the holidays. Yay! Lest I forget the million latkes I made, right? (I wish I could say a Christmas tree in January was odd, but Austin is the capital of weird. Just how I like it.) Anyhoo, what I’m trying so inarticulately to say is I’m slightly horrified January is halfway over, and I’m already planning Passover recipes to share with y’all. Someone make time stop, please! Thanks. Any Passover requests, friends?
But for now, in between glutenous Hanukkah and matzah-heavy Passover, I’m aiming to bring you some pseudo-healthy New Year resolution worthy recipes. How’s that sound? Good? Great! Next up, a Middle Eastern flatbread topped in all my favorite things. I’m talking eggplant, tahini sauce, cheeeese. Za’atar. Yes! We are even making the crust from scratch because it’s easy and delicious and Jew can do it! The hardest part is the yeast equation. See that photo over yonder <——— ? That’s what your yeast should look like when I say foamy! If it doesn’t, the yeast is old or the water was too hot or cold. Start again! Your bread will thank you.
Mix that sucker with the flour, salt and olive oil and you have pizza dough! Look at me now.
While your dough is rising, let’s prep the toppings, shall we? So pretty!
I used Japanese eggplant, which isn’t as bitter as traditional, and the skin is easy to eat. But feel free to use whatever you can find. Plus, the Japanese variety is so darn cute!
Roasted with a little olive oil and salt. Try not to eat them all before you put them on your pizza!
You can whip up your tahini sauce now too. Also use this sucker as a dip! By now, your dough should have risen. Ooh look!
Roll it out with a little cornmeal, and here is where the secret comes in. Instead of baking it on a pizza stone or cookie sheet, I’m using a my 12-inch Le Creuset cast iron pan!
Get the crust crispy in the oven, smother with toppings, and then finish in the oven to melt the cheese.
Drizzle with olive oil, honey, and garnish with mint.
You’ll seriously wonder why you never made pizza in a cast iron before. Whyyyy?
- 1 envelope (2.25 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1½ cups warm water, about 110 degrees F
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (can use whole wheat)
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into ¼ inch slices
- ½ cup tahini
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon water
- Cornmeal for sprinkling
- 2 tablespoons za'atar (homemade or store bought)
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- Mint for garnish
- Honey to drizzle
- First, make your dough. This recipe makes two crusts, but we are only using one. You can freeze the rest for up to three months! Simply defrost before using. Combine yeast, sugar and water in a large stand mixer bowl and combine. Let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy. If it doesn't foam, your water was too cold or warm or the yeast was old. Try again!
- Then add flours, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil and beat with a dough hook into a ball. If dough is dry, add a little water. Knead with mixer or by hand for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, firm dough that isn't sticking to the sides or crumbling.
- Grease a large bowl with olive oil, place the dough ball in, cover and let rise in a warm area until double in size, about 1 hour.
- While dough is rising, prep remaining ingredients. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss eggplant in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Place slices on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, or until eggplant is soft. Then heat oven up to 500 degrees F.
- To make tahini sauce, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper and water in a small bowl. Depending on how thick your tahini is, add a little more water to get a thick sauce.
- Once dough is ready, divide it into two pieces. Roll out 1 piece into a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. If dough bounces back while rolling, let rest about 10 minutes to allow gluten to relax.
- Heat 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Sprinkle pan with cornmeal and carefully place dough in the pan. Brush with a little olive oil. Bake at 500 degrees F for about 10 minutes or until crust starts to brown and crisp.
- Then spread tahini paste over crust (careful, it's hot!), top with eggplant slices, za'atar, tomatoes and cheese. Bake another 5-8 minutes until cheese is melty. Top with pine nuts and mint and drizzle with honey and olive oil. Eat!