When is a pizza not a pizza? Why, when it’s a flatbread, of course!
It seems that flatbread is the new pizza – at least by restaurant definition. Pizza has traditions assigned to it – and the negative dietary connotations. Flatbread, on the other hand, can evoke anything the chef desires. With a minimum of good-quality toppings, they can outshine their pizza parlour cousins while commanding dinnerhouse prices. Not to mention appearing more nutritionally sound.
I made pizza for years. Hand-spun rounds of cheesy, saucy perfection. And while I’m sure most of you will be surprised, I was quite opinionated on what should be allowed on a pizza. I’d never in a million years put seafood other than anchovies on a pizza – but Victor had lobster on a flatbread last week that was out-of-this world fantastic. Ham and pineapple was – and is – a sacrilege. But on a flatbread?!? Eh… why not?!?
It seems that I can continue to be opinionated and still allow for new thoughts and ideas. What a concept.
I use my old standby pizza dough recipe – it’s pretty much the recipe I was was making at Pirro’s back in the ’60s scaled back for home use. I have a La Cucina Italiana recipe that calls for a 2-day cold rise that is really good, but this one is fairly classic and works in no time.
- 1 tsp yeast
- 1 cup barely-warm water
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Mix yeast with water and let proof a few minutes. Add flour and salt and (preferably) knead for five or six minutes with a mixer using a dough hook. Slowly add olive oil while machine is running, mixing well and incorporating everything. You should end up with a soft, smooth, and elastic dough. If mixing by hand, add oil with water and knead about 10 minutes.
Roll into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise until double in size – about an hour and a half.
Form into two balls and allow to rise, again.
Form the proofed dough into nice, round pizzas (I still hand-spin them but use whatever method works best for you.)
Top with your favorite sauce and topping and bake in a 450° oven until done.
While I generally like a 2-rise dough, you can form into balls and go for one rise, form, top, and bake – as I did with the flatbread, below.
I spread the dough with homemade Fig and Caramelized Onion Jam and then topped that with prosciutto and a sprinkling of cheese. Into a 450°F oven with a pizza stone for 20 minutes.
And then there was soup…
Butternut squash soup may be one of my all-time favorites. Victor makes such a great version that I don’t even bother, anymore. I really do love a man who can cook!
The soup really is simple – but it packs a wallop of flavor. It was especially true with this batch because we knew Nonna wasn’t going to be here for dinner – Victor added a couple of hot peppers from the garden.
Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 butternut squash – peeled and cubed
- 2 qts chicken broth
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 2 hot peppers
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained
- garlic powder
Saute onion and peppers in a pat of butter. Add squash, broth, beans, garlic powder, and S&P, to taste. Simmer until squash is falling apart-tender.
Puree with an immersion blender until completely smooth.
Serve with sour cream and a drizzle of good-quality olive oil.
The beans add a creaminess to the soup without having to add cream. You can also make it with olive oil and water or vegetable broth to make it completely vegan.
No matter how you do it, it’s going to come out great!