Flat Bread with Heirloom Tomatoes and Pesto

Don’t call it a pizza…it’s a flat bread.  This is the argument going on in my house as my two boys are eating this bit of yumminess for dinner.  Normally I would be breaking up this heated debate, but this argument is distracting them from the fact that I’ve replaced the typical red tomato sauce with green pesto.  Everett is calling it a flat bread because that’s what I’ve told him we’re having for dinner and it’s not round.  Garrett is calling it a pizza because it could be and he likes absolutely any reason to argue with his brother.  Back and forth they go, taking bite after bite, one counter argument after another, until Everett asks, “What’s this green stuff?”  I tell him it’s pesto.  He tells me it tastes like parsley then finishes off his last slice.

This flat bread was crisp on the bottom, airy and light on top.  One of the keys to this flat bread is properly preparing the tomatoes.  I love tomatoes on pizza, in tarts and now on flat breads, but they hold so much water and make a soupy mess when baked.  To prevent this, I sliced the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices and placed them on top of 3-4 layers of paper towels, sprinkled them with kosher salt, put 2-3 more layers of paper towels on top and let them set on the counter for 20-30 minutes.  The salt helps draw out the water and the paper towels soak it up.  You will be amazed by the dampness of these towels.  The paper towels also soak up most of the salt, so you don’t have to worry about salty tomatoes.

To make the dough, you’ll need an electric mixer with a dough hook.  You can do it by hand, but it’s a lot of work and a little messy.  Once you roll out the dough, you’ll need to let it set for 10 minutes, then stretch it out a bit before placing it on a pizza peel coated with corn meal. Just make sure the dough is not longer than your pizza stone.  Learn from my mistakes.

Be sure to dress the flat bread on top of the peel, not on the cutting board.  Another lesson learned.  We made 4 of these flat breads and ate them for dinner, but this would also make a great appetizer.

Flat Bread with Heirloom Tomatoes and Pesto
Recipe Type: Main Dish, Appetizer
  • 1 package instant yeast
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup water at room temperature
  • 1/4 c plain yogurt
  • 1/2 c olive oil, plus more for oiling bowl
  • 1 c pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • 1/2 lb small heirloom tomatoes
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella balls, cut into quarters
  • red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper
  • several fresh basil leaves
  • corn meal
  1. Begin with preparing the dough first. Place the yeast, salt, sugar and flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachement. Mix the dry ingredients on low speed for 15 seconds then add the water, yogurt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Mix on low for 1 minute until the dough just begins to come together. Remove the paddle attachement and replace it with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 8 minutes until the dough becomes glossy and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will stick to the the bottom of the bowl, this is okay. Coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough into the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a draft free spot until the dough has doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. While the dough is rising, prepare the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into 1/4 inch thick slices. Line a baking sheet with 3-4 layers of paper towels. Place the tomatoes on top of the towels and evenly sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of salt. Cover the tomatoes with an additional 2-3 layers of paper towels and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes at room temperature. After the allotted time, gently press down on the top layer of towels to soak up more of the liquid. Discard the paper towels.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place your pizza/baking stone in the oven as it heats.
  4. Once the dough has risen, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface. The dough will be a little sticky. Try not to incorporate too much extra flour into the dough. This will cause the dough to be dense, not light and airy. Split the dough into four equal parts and roll each into a ball. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an oblong shape. Allow the dough to sit 10 minutes then roll it out a bit more to legnthen. Place the dough on a pizza peel dusted with corn meal.
  5. Brush the outer edge of the flat bread with olive oil, then spread 2-3 tablespoons of pesto on the top, leaving 1 inch of the outer edge exposed. Top the dough with tomatoes then lightly brush them with olive oil. Add 4-5 mozzarella balls (16-20 quarters) per flat bread. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
  6. Slide the flat bread onto the baking stone and cook for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and top with torn basil leaves.

To make the dough without an electric mixer, combine the dough ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Mix the dough until the flour is incorporated. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 15 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise as directed.

Adapted from Baking Illustrated


Comments: 2

  1. ally August 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm Reply

    this is seriously restaurant quality — wow!!

  2. Mel @ The cook's notebook August 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm Reply

    I LOVE flatbread. And pesto. And tomato. Will also make this – maybe as a starter when we have friends for dinner tomorrow. thanks!

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