To ensure crisp and sturdy lavash, we brush them with olive oil and bake them before adding hearty toppings.
Lavash with Tomatoes, Spinach, and Green Olives
MAKES two 12 by 9-inch flatbreads, serving 4 to 6 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS The Middle Eastern flatbread known as lavash has a crisp, crackerlike texture that makes a great base for a quick and easy vegetarian dinner. Store-bought lavash tasted great and kept the recipe streamlined, and to make sure the flatbreads were crisp enough to support the toppings, we brushed them with oil and toasted them quickly in the oven. A combination of thawed frozen spinach, fresh tomato, and briny green olives made for a simple yet flavorful topping. Two types of cheese, mildly nutty fontina and full-flavored Parmesan, gave our lavash more complex flavor; sprinkling the Parmesan on top and allowing it to brown slightly in the hot oven offered an appealing finish. For another flavor variation, we used mellow cauliflower, fennel, and fragrant coriander.
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 cup)
1 tomato, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup pitted large brine-cured green olives, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 (12 by 9-inch) lavash breads
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup)
1. Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 475 degrees. Combine spinach, fontina, tomato, olives, garlic, pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in bowl. Brush both sides of lavash with oil, lay on 2 baking sheets, and bake until golden brown, about 4 minutes, flipping lavash halfway through baking.
2. Spread spinach mixture evenly on each lavash and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until cheese is melted and spotty brown, 6 to 8 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Slice and serve.
Lavash with Cauliflower, Fennel, and Coriander FAST VEG
Omit spinach, tomato, and olives. Heat 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 2 cups chopped cauliflower florets, 1 chopped fennel bulb, 3 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool slightly. Substitute 1 cup shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese for fontina and combine with cauliflower mixture, garlic, and spices before topping lavash. Substitute ½ cup crumbled goat cheese for Parmesan. Sprinkle with 1 thinly sliced scallion before serving.
MAKES two 14 by 8-inch tarts, serving 4 to 6
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Pissaladière is a pizzalike tart from Provence that is prized for its contrast of salty black olives and anchovies against a backdrop of sweet caramelized onions and earthy thyme. Supporting this rustic flavor combination is a wheaty crust with a texture that is part chewy pizza and part crisp cracker. The tart is easy enough to prepare, but each ingredient must be handled carefully. We made the dough in a food processor and kneaded it just enough so that it had the structure to stand up to the heavy toppings. To keep our crust thin and prevent it from bubbling, we poked it all over with the tines of a fork. Starting the onions covered and then uncovering them to finish left them perfectly browned and caramelized and prevented them from burning. We stirred in a bit of water when the onions finished caramelizing to keep them from clumping when we spread them on the crust. To protect the black olives and fresh thyme from burning in the oven, we spread them on the dough first and then covered them with the onions. Finally, we chopped the anchovies to keep them from overpowering the other flavors, but some fish-loving tasters opted to add more whole fillets on top. Some baking stones can crack under the intense heat of the broiler; be sure to check the manufacturer’s website.
3 cups (16½ ounces) bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1⅓ cups ice water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds onions, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
½ cup pitted niçoise olives, chopped coarse
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse, plus 12 fillets for garnish (optional)
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1. FOR THE DOUGH Pulse flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. With processor running, slowly add ice water and process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
2. Add oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.
3. FOR THE TOPPINGS Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Stir in onions, sugar, and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and have released their juice, about 10 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring often, until onions are golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer onions to bowl, stir in water, and let cool completely before using.
4. One hour before baking, adjust oven rack 4 inches from broiler element, set baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Press down on dough to deflate. Transfer dough to clean counter, divide in half, and cover loosely with greased plastic. Pat 1 piece of dough (keep remaining piece covered) into 4-inch round. Working around circumference of dough, fold edges toward center until ball forms.
5. Flip ball seam side down and, using your cupped hands, drag in small circles on counter until dough feels taut and round and all seams are secured on underside. (If dough sticks to your hands, lightly dust top of dough with flour.) Repeat with remaining piece of dough. Space dough balls 3 inches apart, cover loosely with greased plastic, and let rest for 1 hour.
6. Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, generously coat 1 dough ball with flour and place on well-floured counter. Press and roll into 14 by 8-inch oval. Transfer oval to well-floured pizza peel and reshape as needed. (If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 10 to 20 minutes before trying to stretch it again.) Using fork, poke entire surface of oval 10 to 15 times.
7. Brush dough oval with 1 tablespoon oil, then sprinkle evenly with ¼ cup olives, half of chopped anchovies, 1 teaspoon thyme, ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, leaving ½-inch border around edge. Arrange half of onions on top, followed by 6 whole anchovies, if using.
8. Slide flatbread carefully onto baking stone and return oven to 500 degrees. Bake until bottom crust is evenly browned and edges are crisp, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating flatbread halfway through baking. Transfer flatbread to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley, slice, and serve. Heat broiler for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough, oil, and toppings, returning oven to 500 degrees when flatbread is placed on stone.
NOTES FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
A Stand-In Baking Stone and Peel
A baking stone is a terrific investment if you enjoy making breads, flatbreads, and pizza, and a peel makes the process easier. But you can make do with rimless or inverted baking sheets for both the stone and the peel. To improvise a baking stone, preheat a baking sheet for 30 minutes. For an improvised peel, cover a rimless or an inverted rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, shape and top the pizza on the parchment, and slide parchment and pizza directly onto the preheated stone.