Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Whole Wheat Flatbread with Pesto, Potatoes and Farmer's Cheese

How big of an idiot am I? I achieved what was probably the height of my culinary career, and I did not take one. Single. Photo. Actually, it's more accurate to say that if I had taken two minutes to locate my camera, our party guests would've devoured the whole thing, and damned if I wasn't going to grab myself a slice. My dear friend Sarah was able to capture the moment when I stuffed it into my face before throwing down her camera and storming the food table herself.

This amazing flatbread/pizza is yet another treat inspired by our recent trip to Portland, OR. My brother-in-law to be was kind enough to take us to Clyde Common for lunch, and My Dude and I loved it so much that we went back the very next day. I had their vegetarian flatbread both times, because I was determined to re-create it for our engagement party. On our first visit, I let myself get lost in the restaurant's laid-back vibe, my cold glass of wine, and my light yet comforting meal. On the second visit, however, I covertly lifted away each layer and discovered just how easy it really was: pesto, thinly-sliced fingerling potatoes, and lumps of fresh farmer's cheese, placed under the broiler until golden.

My favorite thing about this recipe is that it satisfies a pizza craving while still being light and fresh enough to serve on the muggiest, most oppressive days of a New York summer, those days when the very thought of stepping into the un-air-conditioned slice joint on the corner makes me melt into a puddle of sweat and Clinique City Block.

I've posted the full recipe after the jump, but you could easily cut a few corners by using a pre-made pizza dough or crust and a decent jarred pesto and it would still turn out great. To be honest, the pesto is more My Dude's territory, so I think I'll have him write up his recipe in a subsequent entry. Anyway, without further ado...

Whole Wheat Flatbread with Pesto, Potatoes and Farmer's Cheese

Makes two 12-inch pizzas or one 13- x 16-inch pizza.
  • One recipe Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (see below)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 5 or 6 large fingerling potatoes
  • 1/2 cup pesto, jarred or homemade
  • 1/4 lb very mild, soft farmer's cheese (I used Westfield Farm Capri from Murray's)
  • 4 leeks, green parts only, sliced diagonally
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare and par-bake the crust in the center of the oven, about 9 minutes. Let it cool off a little on the baking sheet.

Peel the potatoes and slice them paper-thin, or as thin as you can reasonably get them without slicing off a finger. Heat about 1/4-inch of olive oil in a skillet on medium-low. Add potatoes and cook until tender, turning occasionally. If you notice the edges starting to crisp, turn down the heat. Drain the potatoes on paper towels.

Spread the pesto evenly over the crust in a thin layer. Top with another even layer of potatoes, followed by nickel-sized lumps of cheese.

Turn the broiler to low (if you have the option) and let it heat up. Place the pizza directly under the heat source and broil until the top of the cheese lumps are a nice, golden brown. Depending on the stregth of your oven, it should be about 5-10 minutes, but WATCH CLOSELY. This thing can go from zero to charred in no time.

Top with the leek and serve. But maybe grab yourself a slice first.

Easy Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Adapted from Nick Malgieri's How to Bake
  • 1 1/2 cups white unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup warm tap water
  • 1 envelope (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk the yeast into the water, followed by two tablespoons of olive oil.

Make a well in the center of the flour and salt mixture. Pour the liquid into the center of the well and stir with a fork all the flour is incorporated and a soft, sticky dough forms. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Grease a cookie sheet with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Without stirring or folding the dough, use a rubber spatula to scrape it from the bowl onto the oiled sheet. Oil your hands and press, pull, and pat the dough into the pan. If it starts to get stiff and resist, let it rest for a few minutes before continuing. Let the dough rise in the pan uncovered until it starts to puff up slightly, about 30 minutes.