Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Flatbread with Dandelion Greens

There are recipes that are old friends. The years go by, and you keep perfecting them (and there's always something to be perfected, isn't there?)

This one is an oldie. The CC got it from a friend's magazine (Seriously! The CC wouldn't be caught dead buying those magazines.)

Over the years, it's been rationalized and made much much more scientific. It's been through the paces more than a few times. More spices have been added and tweaks made but the basic ideas remain the same. You, my good friends, are the beneficiaries of the CC's hard work.

It's an idea as old as time. Bread topped with tasty stuff topped with cheese. If you're thinking "pizza" then that's what it resembles, of course.

What makes it interesting is what the "stuff" is and how the "bread" is constructed.

It's basically a very classic long-fermented dough topped with dark leafy slightly-bitter greens with tomatoes and Indian spices topped with salty feta. A Greek friend mentioned that it very strongly resembles what they call "Arabic Pie".

It's truly a wondrous recipe. So make this one. It takes a little effort but it has a rock-your-world kinda taste. It will certainly rock your party!



1/4 cup rye flour
2 cups whole wheat flour (sifted)
3/4 cup dark rye flour
1/2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups water
cilantro (chopped fine)
rosemary (chopped fine)
1 tbsp ground pepper


1 large red onion (very finely diced)
3" ginger
5 garlic cloves
2-3 Thai green chillies (or 1 serrano)

1 stick cinnamon
2 tsp whole coriander
1 tsp whole cumin
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tbsp fennel
3-4 cardamom pods

1 cup tomato sauce
6 cups chopped dandelion greens

olive oil

crumbled feta


Just a few notes about commercial yeast. It is built to reproduce fast but that doesn't allow flavor to build so you need to retard it. The standard way is just to stick it in the refrigerator and give it much much longer times to do its thing. This recipe was made last week when Fall made its way. The house was extraordinarily cool which is functionally the same thing as a refrigerator. The CC trudged off to the NYFF while the dough did its thing.

You want a cool long fermentation process not a fast one. Otherwise, the dough which is part of the magic will have no taste.
You need to prepare this dough early in the day for consumption at night.

In a very roomy glass bowl, add 1/4 cup of rye flour with the dried yeast and mix with about 1/2 cup of luke-warm water. Err on the cooler side. Hot water will definitely kill the yeast. Let it sit for about 20 minutes.

This is an old baker's trick. Rye flour is like crack-cocaine for yeast. They will reproduce and go crazy. It's called a poolish (French) or biga (Italian).

After 20 minutes, the sludge will be all foamy. (If not, your yeast is dead. Discard and try again.)

Add the sifted whole-wheat flour, rye flour, cilantro, rosemary, salt, black pepper. Add water slowly and knead until you get a solid but pliable ball. (This really depends on the weather and humidity. The CC just adds water slowly until he gets it right.)

Cover the bowl tightly and let it sit for at least 8 hours.

After 8 hours, you will notice that the dough is a lot more "flowy". The yeast have eaten away the sugars and left the gluten behind. Deflate the dough.

Form a ball one more time. If it's very wet, you may need to add a little bit more flour.

Cover and let it sit for a 2-3 hours. It will rise a lot faster the second time around.


Roast the spices in a dry skillet. Make sure they don't burn. Set aside and grind in a clean coffee grinder.

Pound the ginger, green chillies and garlic to a paste. Set aside.

Heat up some olive oil. Fry the onions for about 4 minutes. Add the paste above and fry for a while. Add the tomato sauce. Let it cook for about 6 minutes.

Add the greens with some salt. They will give off a lot of water. Let them cook at a medium-low heat until almost all the water is gone.

Add the ground spices, mix and set aside.


Cover a large rectangular 9"x16" pizza tray with aluminum foil. This makes cleanup easy.

Pour some olive oil and spread all over. This ensures that the dough doesn't stick. Deflate the dough gently with your hands. Dump it in the tray, flatten it gently with your fingers so that it assumes the rectangular shape of the tray. The dough will be quite "doughy" so this step is quite easy.

Top with the greens mixture from above. Add crumbled feta on top.

Pre-heat the oven to 450°F.

The CC lets the tray sit near the oven while it pre-heats for about 20-25 minutes. Consider this as the third rising of the dough. (It rises really rapidly.)

Bake for about 14 minutes. (You will need to check because the feta can easily burn.)

Let it rest for about 7 minutes. (Yes, this is important. It's still cooking even though you've pulled it out of the oven.)

Slice and devour!

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