Sunday, October 3, 2010

Grilled Mediterranean Flatbread

I've been loving the market's here in Western Australia where the fresh fruit and vegetables are abundant and grown locally in most cases. Having spent my whole life between Minneapolis and the Chicago-land area where the climate shifts dramatically and the growing seasons are sweet but short, I am enamored with what the down under markets have to offer year round.

The other day there was a heaping pile of glossy grape-colored eggplants - the long skinny ones, not the large roundish ones, and I loved the sight of them so much I bought a bunch to make something with later. As I browsed, I grabbed some Roma tomatoes and a beautiful basil bouquet and thought I would make an Italian something or other. However, a zucchini ended up in my basket along with a variety of mint I'm not familiar with and so things took a Mediterranean turn. Some salty feta cheese was the missing component and so I got a block and headed home.

M has become sort of a master pizza griller. I wanted to make a flatbread on the grill and so became a director rather than a cook and watched him do all the work. His technique works great...preheat the grill to low, stretch the dough out on a piece of oil-brushed foil, and then transfer the foil to the grill for about 15 minutes. The foil makes the pizza easier to maneuver and yields even cooking results.

I call this a flatbread rather than a pizza because to me pizza is something slathered with red sauce and melted, gooey cheese. This recipe is all about layers of subtle flavors: the thin crisp crust brushed with garlic-infused oil, the smoky grilled vegetables, the sharp feta, and the fresh herbs.

For 2 flatbreads:
  • 1 recipe pizza dough (I like this one from Gourmet), divided into two balls
  • 1 cup 1/4-inch slices eggplant
  • 1 cup 1/4-inch slices zucchini
  • 8 slices Roma tomatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • olive oil, divided
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic turns barely golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat a grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, combine the eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Coat them with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill the vegetables for about 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside. Turn the grill down to low.

Lightly oil a piece of aluminum foil. Pat out one ball of the pizza dough into an oval. Drizzle half of the garlic-infused oil over it and then lay half of the grilled vegetables on top. Sprinkle with half of the feta cheese, half of the chopped herbs, and a light sprinkling of  sea salt.

Transfer the flatbread with the foil to the grill and cook, covered for about 5-6 minutes. Check on it, rotating it if there's a hotter part of the grill, and cover again. Cook for an additional 5-6 minutes, keeping in mind that because grills vary, the cooking times can range from 10-20 minutes. Peek at the bottom of the crust every now and again to gauge when it's ready. It should be golden, crisp, with nice grill marks.

Repeat the same procedure with the remaining ingredients. Cut into slices and serve.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Mmmm. That looks delicious on any continent.