In my latest obsession with cooking Middle Eastern dishes, I’m constantly finding myself in need of a flatbread component to the meal. Whether it’s for dipping into a smoked eggplant dip, serving next to a beautiful mezze platter with olives and pickles, or wrapping around kebabs or lamb kofta, I’m frequently finding myself revisiting the pita section in the grocery store. I then spend several of my precious dinner prep minutes warming the flatbread and brushing it with oils and seasonings in an attempt to try and make it my own. Don’t misunderstand me here- there’s a time and a place for store-bought pita, but I started to find myself on occasion wanting something a little more flavourful, more moist, more unique… more homemade.
And so, I tried my hand at “bread making,” and with several attempts under my belt, I think I’ve come up with the perfect flatbread recipe that teeters between few ingredients, little hands on time, and maximum flavour and texture for a result that really is worth the extra effort. The bonus is that the ingredients are all staples you’ll have in your pantry, except for the za’atar for garnish. If you don’t already have this spice blend, however, it’s easy to find in most major grocery stores, and so worth the extra pantry space. It’s that subtle addition that takes all of your Middle Eastern dishes from tasting like you made them to tasting like the real deal (kind of like kaffir lime in Thai cooking, if you know what I mean).
So, here it is! The recipe that I’m loving most right now, because it’s so simple, and yet seems to really impress the audience. Seriously, you could serve this flatbread next to good olive oil and have your guests raving about it. It’s that simple. I love to serve mine next to homemade labneh (see recipe below) but you can use this flatbread recipe however you see fit! Serve with Homemade Hummus, next to a big bowl of tzatziki, or cover the flatbread with fancy toppings for a truly impressive and crowd pleasing appetizer. Check out my recipe for Grilled Flatbread with Fresh Figs for inspo!
Homemade Grilled Flatbread
The flatbread is light and airy, and charring it on the grill adds amazing crunch and smokey flavour. Use this flatbread for your favourite dips, wraps, and curries, or top it with your favourite sweet and savoury ingredients for appetizer or dessert flatbreads.
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- t tsp salt
- 3/4 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil plus extra for topping
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in the warm water, and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Continue to stir until the dough starts to come together in a sticky ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured clean surface, and gently bring the dough together with your hands. Knead the dough for 2 minutes until it is a stretchy, smooth consistency. The dough should be slightly sticky, but not so wet that it won't hold together in a loose ball. Add more flour to the kneading surface to make the dough less sticky if necessary.
Lightly coat the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil, and rub the excess on the outside of the dough ball. Place the dough in the bowl, and cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and let the dough rise in a warm place.*
Preheat grill to medium-high. Once risen, turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, and divide the dough into 4 or 5 balls. Roll the balls into spheres, and then flatten them with your hands or with a rolling pin to less than a quarter inch thick. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Lightly drizzle or brush each side of the dough with olive oil and a sprinkle of za'atar. Place on grill, and let cook until the dough easily comes away from grill and is nicely charred, about 1-2 minutes per side. Once both sides are nicely charred, remove from grill, lightly drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with za'atar, a pinch of salt, and fresh herbs. Enjoy!
*Tip: To help my dough rise, I place it in a warm place. I usually turn my oven on for a few minutes while I am kneading the dough. Then, turn the oven off (don't forget!), place the covered bowl with dough in the warm oven and leave the door ajar.
Labneh (yogurt dip) with Pistachios and Mint
My take on this traditional Middle Eastern "cheese" dip is really simple and a crowd pleaser. It's essentially just strained Greek yogurt, with salt, olive oil and honey... in other words, everything regular Greek yogurt wishes it was but isn't. Serve alongside flatbread or pita and enjoy!
- 500 g plain Greek yogurt 0 or 2% MF
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus drizzle
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp honey plus drizzle
- 1 tsp za'atar
- 1 tbsp roasted pistachios, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Line a strainer with 2 layers of cheesecloth or strong paper towel. Place the yogurt in the cloth or paper towel, and let strain over a bowl in the fridge for ~2 hours. Stir the yogurt every 30 minutes to release more water.
Once the yogurt is strained and thick, remove it from the cloth and place into a bowl. Combine with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a half tablespoon of honey, and a half teaspoon of salt. Taste and adjust seasoning if you like it a bit saltier or sweeter.
Spread the labneh on a plate with a shallow well in the centre. Garnish with a drizzle (about a half tablespoon) each of olive oil and honey. Sprinkle on the za'atar, pistachios and mint. Serve alongside flatbread or pita and enjoy!