Once you go down the rabbit hole of flatbreads, you’ll soon realize the term is pretty meaningless. Yeast or no yeast. Rolled out or tossed like a pizza. Cooked on the stove or in the oven or on the grill. Pasta thin or thick and chewy. Toppings or no toppings. These were the qualities I tried to narrow down on my quest for the ideal flatbread, and what I came to learn was that a flatbread could involve any combination of these qualities. It’s a total crap shoot. Some treat it exactly like pizza, others treat it like the sort of bread that was made 400 years ago over a fire. So today I’m using the term to mean a grilled, freeform piece of yeast dough that’s topped with a few handfuls of fresh, lemony spring greens. It’s tender, fluffy, and brushed with olive oil to keep it extra flavorful. Embrace the freeform nature of these flatbreads and don't try too hard to shape them, the dough will probably just tear. Do your best to carefully stretch it out and slather it with olive oil, then slap it on the grill and let the heat work its magic. Once the flatbreads are grilled, you can top them with a thick smear of ricotta and a lemony salad for a quintessential spring meal.
notes on the flatbread:
these can also be made in the oven. Pick up at the end of step 4 and bake for 8-10 minutes at 500°F, or until puffed, golden brown on top and crispy on the bottom.
the flatbread is also great sprinkled with flaky salt (before cooking) and served with your favorite dip!
grilled flatbread with ricotta, arugula and peas
makes 4- 6 servings
flatbread (recipe adapted from Erin McDowell via Food52)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tbsp juice)
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
8 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups arugula, washed and patted dry
2 cups microgreens, washed and patted dry
1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
15 oz whole milk ricotta (1 3/4 cup)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add flour, salt and yeast and whisk together by hand. Pour in the water and olive oil and stir together with a wooden spoon until a shaggy mass forms. Turn on the mixer and knead 3-4 minutes on medium speed, or until a smooth, slightly tacky dough forms.
Shape the dough into a ball by using both hands to pull sides of dough underneath the ball until smooth. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl, cover with a dish towel, and let rise until doubled in size, 30- 60 minutes.
Preheat the grill on high heat until smoking hot, about 600°F. Drizzle olive oil on two baking sheets and spread around with your hands, and set aside.
Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 4 pieces. Working one at a time on an un-floured surface, gently press and stretch the dough into a long, freeform rectangle (oil your hands if the dough is sticking). Try to get it as thin as possible without tearing the dough. Place on the oiled baking sheet and repeat with remaining 3 balls of dough. Drizzle olive oil on the top sides of the dough.
When the grill is hot, toss flatbreads onto the grill and cook until golden brown and charred in spots, about 3- 4 minutes per side. While flatbreads are still hot, brush them with additional olive oil and set aside while you finish the salad topping.
To make the dressing, whisk together lemon juice, zest, vinegar, honey and olive oil in a glass jar or pitcher until combined. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and set aside.
In a large bowl, toss the arugula, microgreens, peas and cucumber with half the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Spread each flatbread with a fourth of the ricotta (a little less than 1/2 cup), then divide the salad evenly over top. Serve immediately, with additional dressing on the side.