My job teaching cooking classes at our local health food store gives me freedom to experiment with new foods and challenges me to find new and clever recipes each week. To encourage some experimentation- and get me out of my greens rut- I’ve claimed the first class of each month as a Vegetable Spotlight, with all three/four recipes featuring one single vegetable. A class this summer featured tomatoes as the vegetable (fruit, I know!) of choice. I am not a big tomato-lover, but I hear they are at their flavorful peak in the summer months, and I do know now that they fit wonderfully into light, refreshing summer recipes like these gorgeous Rustic Tomato Flatbreads. These Flatbreads made me giggle with joy: not only are they pretty, they were super tasty, fairly simple, and really fun to make! And all the recipes were yummy enough to make this lady give tomatoes a chance! Check out the other recipes and step-by-step photos here on Down to Earth’s photo album.
These flatbreads are infinitely adaptable and can take the place of any store-bought pizza shell or flatbread you buy. Try topping yours with pesto, red sauce, or just the simple olive oil/salt/pepper combination (which I thought tasted the best!). Decorate with whatever vegetables you love: I used roma tomatoes, red onion, fresh herbs, and lots of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. These are rustic, meaning they are mostly free-form and there is not a specific way to top or dress them- just make it how you love it. Please do note that this is not really a pizza dough- it’s not quite as soft, more of like a crispy bread for chopping, dipping, snacking. When I was testing this recipe, Isa at the Post Punk Kitchen posted about grilled flatbreads with red pepper spread, so consider that additional inspiration for your flatbread adventures!
Rustic Tomato Flatbreads
For the Flatbread Dough:
1 cup very warm water
1 package active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons olive oil + extra for bowl and pans
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon salt
3-3½ cups bread flour or all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
For the Toppings:
4 large ripe tomatoes
1 cup fresh sliced basil
½ cup very thinly sliced red onions
¼ cup fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, sage, etc.)
Olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste
- Combine the water, yeast, olive oil, agave, and salt in a large bowl. Swirl to combine, and let stand five minutes to proof. Stir in 2½ cups flour and stir until a ‘shaggy’ dough forms. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and stretchy, adding more flour as needed- you may use up to a cup of extra flour. Knead for eight minutes, or until dough is totally smooth.
- Lightly oil a large glass bowl. Transfer the dough to bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let dough rise in a warm area (ie: in the oven with the lights on) for one hour. It should nearly double in size.
- When the dough has risen, turn out onto a floured surface. Press dough slightly to form a smaller ball, and divide it into four parts. Cover dough balls with a towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450º and lightly grease two cookie sheets with olive oil.
- Roll out the individual dough balls into ovals or circles. Brush generously with olive oil, then top with tomatoes, basil, herbs, and onions, as you like. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top of tomatoes. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand five minutes before eating. Enjoy!
Yield: 4 (eight-inch) flatbreads, or about 8-10 servings