Saturday, August 7, 2010

Margherita Flatbread Pizza

Friday night I came home from work, opened the refrigerator and realized we had one tomato, a handful of cherry tomatoes and tons of basil. And that was pretty much it. That and a half-full bowl of leftover cooked penne with no sauce. Not exactly enough to feed two people. So I ran away to the gym. I really didn't want to think about the pathetically empty state of my refrigerator. But then, I had an epiphany on the elliptical: Margherita Flatbread Pizza. I will forever be grateful to whatever sent that hurtling into my brain, because it was one of the best cooking ideas I've had in a while.

It was especially great because the flatbread recipe I used doesn't use yeast. Which first of all I'm still intimidated by and secondly takes way more time than I had. Unless we were interested in eating dinner somewhere around midnight. Which we weren't.

The flatbreads on their own are one of my favorite online recipe finds to date. They take about 10 minutes to whip together but they taste like they could have taken hours. Don't tell your friends how easy they are. They will all just marvel at your culinary genius.

Margherita Flatbread Pizza
3 medium to large tomatoes (or a bunch of cherry tomatoes if that's all you have)
20-30 fresh basil leaves
2 balls fresh mozzarella
3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Olive oil for drizzling
1 recipe flatbread

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Gourmet
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil + more for drizzling

Preheat oven to 450 with a baking rack in the middle of the oven.

Put the mozzarella cheese in the freezer while you prepare the flatbread and preheat the oven (only for about 15 minutes). This will make it easier to slice later.

First, prepare the flatbread. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead on a work surface 4 or 5 times.

Divide the dough into three pieces. Roll out one piece on parchment paper into a round. Dough should be thin. The "roundness" of it doesn't matter much. Drizzle the top with olive oil and spread evenly across the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with salt.

In the preheated oven, bake the dough for about 5 minutes, just to start making it crisp. It should start to firm up, but not be completely cooked.

While dough is cooking, prepare toppings. Thinly slice tomatoes and mozzarella and roughly chop basil. Once the dough is done, remove from oven. Cover with 4-5 slices of mozzarella, keeping it away from the edge of the dough. If it gets too close, the cheese will spill over the sides when it melts. And then you will be forced to mourn the loss of your mozzarella cheese. Or eat it straight off the parchment paper. Cover the cheese with 4-5 slices of tomato. Sprinkle 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese over the pizza. You can either sprinkle fresh basil on now and bake with the pizza or add it later. I made it both ways and it turned out great each time.

Return the pizza to the oven for 5-7 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly and the edges of the flatbread are golden. Place on a flat surface to cool for 1-2 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Repeat with remaining flatbreads and toppings.



  1. I am really excited to try this flatbread recipe. Don't be afraid of yeast! I was totally terrified of it until I made my own pizza dough for my new years party last year. Alton Brown has a great episode on making pizza dough with yeast (although , of course, I did not see it until much later). Still, if I want some homemade pizza, I like this alternative because it's much quicker for a last minute meal. :) thanks for posting val!

  2. I"m getting better at yeast, but it's still intimidating. And time consuming! I really have to plan ahead if I'm making a meal that needs rising times, etc. This is really nice because it's fast and versatile! I used the flatbread once to make taco pizza with leftover taco meat. Let me know how you like it when you try it!

  3. Hi! I'm dying to make this but when I went to make the flatbread dough tonight I saw that the ingredients list called for baking powder but baking soda was mentioned in the instructions. I was afraid of messing it up so I didn't dare make it after all. Could you clarify please? We ended up using flatbread from the store since I could not find any other recipes that didn't call for yeast and I didn't have time for that. The Margherita pizza was still good but I'm sure it will be better with homemade dough.

    Btw, if you're still intimidated by yeast I have two suggestions. First, buy a good, accurate candy thermometer for determining the water temperature. I found a good one at that was highly rated, reasonably priced (ten dollars, I think) and shipped for free. If your water is the right temperature it's easy from there.

    The other suggestion is to get a bread machine to mix the dough for you. I found a nice one at the Salvation Army recently for just $7 and bought it so I would have a back up for my older model. They both work great and make dough mixing a snap. I rarely bake in the machine, just mix the dough and then take it out and shape or use it as I please.

  4. Thanks for finding that, Audrey! The recipe should call for the baking powder and not baking soda, as was mentioned in the instructions.

    I've actually gotten over my fear of yeast, mostly by forcing myself to cook with it. I was surprised by how easy it was! Especially when I discovered I could knead the bread in my mixer. That was a good day.