Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grilled Flatbreads with Tomatoes and Basil

These little grilled flatbreads make for a delicious bite - a little bit bread basket, a little bit salad all in one! The original recipe called for topping it with plum tomatoes and regular basil, but for a variation, try using cucumbers and lemon basil: my friend just shared some of each with me from her backyard garden (right in New York!) So of course I had to try a variety with not just the plum tomatoes but with thin slices of the cucumbers she gave me. The lemon basil she gave me worked really wonderfully on the tops instead of regular basil - delicious!

For starters, make the dough. In a large bowl, combine 1/4 flour, 1/4 warm water (100 to 110 degrees - I suggest using a thermometer for accuracy), and one individual packet yeast (about two and a quarter teaspoons). Stir with a whisk and let stand 30 minutes.

The recipe called for bread flour, which I couldn't find at the supermarket. Bread flour is made of barley flour, which helps the yeast work, and also has a higher gluten level than all-purpose flour, which produces a chewier end result (i.e. it's great for pizzas and breads - not so great in cakes). However, all-purpose flour will work in a pinch, or, as I used here, all-purpose whole wheat flour.

After 30 minutes, add 2 cups more flour, another 1/2 cup of warm water, one tablespoon olive oil, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes. The original recipe said to add an additional tablespoon of bread flour, but with my whole wheat flour, I judged that it didn't need it.

When you're done kneading (remember: punch, fold, quarter-turn, repeat!) place the dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray (turning to coat the top), cover and let rise for one hour until doubled in size.

While the bread rises, prepare the topping for the flatbreads. In a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, one tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves; stir with a whisk. Add 4 cups (1/4-inch thick) slices of plum tomato and toss to coat. (As mentioned above, here's where you could substitute cucumber slices for some of the tomatoes!) Place in the fridge until ready to use.

Once the dough has doubled, divide it into 8 equal portions. Roll each into a 6-inch circle (cover the remaining dough in between to prevent it from drying), and place the circles on a lightly floured baking sheet so they don't stick to the counter or anything as you roll out all the other pieces! Over a prepared grill, grill each flatbread for about two minutes on each side.

Of course, I'm not grilling in my apartment - by all means, if you have access to a grill and a backyard, prepare the grill in advance to medium-high heat and use the real McCoy. If you're indoors like me, pull out your trusty grill pan, heat it over medium-high heat on the stove, coat it with cooking spray and voila! You'll get those same lovely grill lines along the bread and (maybe) no one will know the difference.

Once you've grilled your flatbreads, top each with 1/2 cup of the tomato and/or cucumber slices. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons regular or lemon basil. Each of the eight flatbreads is 180 calories.

Here's a picture of the variation!

olive oil $12.99 (yes once in a while I have to buy a new bottle for the pantry!)
plum tomatoes $3.06
basil $3.49
cucumbers and lemon basil - gift of a friend!

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy http://www.wholesoyco.com/
  • Vegan milk - Silk http://www.silksoymilk.com/
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia http://www.sunergiasoyfoods.com/
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods http://www.galaxyfoods.com/
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G http://www.ener-g.com/
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance http://www.earthbalance.net/product.html