Summer Flatbread (aka: how to use up anything in your fridge)

Flatbreads are my go to dish for so many occasions –they are cheap, quick, and can use up nearly any type of produce or leftovers.  Folks always seem to be super impressed that you’ve made your own bread too.

Here’s a basic dough recipe and instructions for topping it different ways.  I made one for a hike/swim last weekend with zucchini, sun gold tomatoes, green onions, lime-basil pesto and some parmesan.

Flatbread with zucchini, sun gold tomatoes, scallions, lime-basil pesto and parmesan.
Flatbread with zucchini, sun gold tomatoes, scallions, lime-basil pesto and parmesan.

photo 2

Flatbread dough

This dough is made in advance so you don’t need to knead it forever, but if you are on a tighter timeline, just work the dough a bit more to develop the gluten.

  • (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (or a couple teaspoons)
  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or other herb (or leave out)
  • 3-4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (don’t skimp on the salt or the bread will taste bland, no matter what toppings you add)

Stir together 2 cups warm water (slightly warmer than body temperature) and yeast in a large bowl and let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, chopped herbs, and 2 1/2 teaspoons table salt and mix to combine. At this point, you can either drizzle with olive oil, cover with a moist towel, and let sit overnight in a warm, draft-free location. I put mine in the oven with just the light on, and it creates a perfect environment. Or – you could continue to knead for 5 minutes by machine or 10 by hand until the dough becomes elastic.  You will still need to let this dough rise for an hour or so.

Press dough evenly into a well-oiled, rimmed cookie sheet (can use parchment paper too). Drizzle with oil and spread around with your fingers. Let dough rise, covered with a moist kitchen towel, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Top your flatbread as you wish, leaving some space between toppings so that the bread itself can get toasty.  Bake for 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of your bread and what toppings you’ve added.  Check under the flatbread to see if bottom is crisping up.  I sometimes take the bread off of the cookie sheet and place directly onto the oven rack for the last 5 minutes of baking to brown.

Remove bread to a cooling rack so that the bottom doesn’t become soggy.  Serve immediately or let cool slightly before packing up for a picnic or potluck (you don’t want the steam to ruin the texture).

Other topping ideas: sautéed greens+bacon+parm; grilled corn+cheddar+scallions; roasted tomatoes+mozzarella+arugula (added after baking); peaches+prosciutto+chili flakes+balsamic drizzle; leftover dinner (grilled chicken, roasted meat, baked potatoes, sauteed veggies, etc.)+cheese


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