Flatbread: All-Purpose, All Delicious

While vacationing in Arizona a couple of weeks ago, I attended a cooking class at Sweet Basil Gourmetware and Cooking School in Scottsdale. My friend, Pat Sinclair, and I pulled into the parking lot of the strip mall where the store is located just minutes before the class was to begin.

I grabbed my camera and my tripod from the back seat and we rushed into the store, passing by displays of gourmet food items, beautiful dishes, cookware and bakeware and shelves of cookbooks as we made our way to the back of the store where the kitchen classroom is located.

Shelley Sikora Holman, instructor for the Flatbread Fantasy class, stood in the kitchen looking cool as a cucumber wearing her tomato-red chef’s jacket. A copy of the cookbook she co-authored with Hallie Harron, “Tomatoes & Mozzarella,” was propped on an easel on the counter that separated her from her students.

I considered Holman an expert on all dough that is flat. I had visited with her by phone before I went to Arizona and learned that her cookbook, “Skinny Bread: 100 Amazing Ways to make Flatbread” will be released in late summer of 2012.

Holman explained to the class that flatbread has been around ever since there has been fire. On a trip through Europe, she enjoyed a variety of flatbreads. Each country had its own unique style of flatbread. That’s when she decided to write a cookbook focused on dough that’s been enjoyed by people all over the world for over 2,000 years.

Eleven students worked together in the kitchen, preparing recipes that will be included in that cookbook that’s in the hands of Holman’s publisher right now. My cooking partner, Roger, and I made flatbread bowls filled with a romaine and watercress salad. Holman gave me permission to use that recipe in my food column this week. You will find that recipe by clicking here.

Another team of two cooks prepared an appetizer using small rounds of pizza dough topped with bacon, watercress and tomatoes along with olives and goat cheese. It seems we never have enough appetizer ideas. These are nice for spring and summer since the mini rounds of pizza dough can be baked on the grill before topping.

Fresh, peppery watercress takes the place of lettuce on these two-bite pizzas. Holman suggests giving each pizzetta a couple of drops of anisette, a liqueur that tastes like licorice. I think they would be very tasty without the addition of the alcohol.

The class ended with a flatbread buffet. Flatbread was rolled, wrapped, turned into pockets and bowls and tarts and stuffed with tasty morsels of sweet and savory food.

You can learn more about Shelley Holman and find more of her recipes at her blog: backpocketrecipes.com


Recipe from Shelley Holman, author of the soon-to-be released cookbook, “Skinny Bread: 100 Amazing Ways to make Flatbread”

Makes 18 servings

  • 1 pound store-bought refrigerated pizza dough or substitute a homemade dough
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces Chevre goat cheese, cut into 35 thin wedges
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and quartered
  • 18 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • Crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • 2 teaspoons Anisette

On a floured work surface, roll out the pizza dough with a rolling pin until very thin.  Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, cut the dough into 18 rounds.  Brush the tops of the dough rounds with oil, salt and rosemary, (and crushed red pepper if using), pressing the herbs down to make sure that they stick.  Transfer dough rounds to a baking sheet and, using a fork, pierce the rounds to prevent bubbles.

You can grill or bake it – your choice!

Grill it: Heat your gas grill to medium-high.  Use tongs  and place dough rounds, herb side down, on grates and grill for 1-2 minutes. Brush the top of each pizzetta with oil.  Grill about another minute or until the bottom is crisp and golden brown.  Use a metal spatula to return the pizzettas to the baking sheet when cooked.  Top each with 2 pieces of cheese and evenly divided portions of tomato and bacon. Add a pinch of the crushed red pepper if desired.  Add watercress, along with a few drops of Anisette.  Return the pizzettas to the grill and continue to cook until the cheese is melted.  Transfer to a platter and serve while still warm.

Bake it:  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Follow the exact topping instructions as for outdoor grilling.