My homage to Sicily continues. Thank you for reintroducing me to the wonderful herb of Oregano – something I had largely ignored and had met the fate of yet another store cupboard – out of date and way past its prime (a bit like me too!). One of the best purchases I made was a few bunches of freshly dried Oregano from the outdoor market in Ortygia – and was really keen to put it to use in an Italian inspired recipe. We also bought a significant stash of succulent sun-dried tomatoes and have been looking forward to any opportunity to incorporate this into a recipe, one way or another.
In parallel, I have been experimenting over the last few weeks with a range of quick and easy flatbreads. I started off with Indian chapatis (having been asked by Marlini if I could make them for her), then wanted to experiment further. The great thing with flatbreads is they can be made very quickly, and with the very simplest of ingredients and equipment. Whilst I am very well served at home in terms of kitchen kit and caboodle, I have certainly hat to put my improvisational skills to the test to ‘make do’. No rolling pin? – simple- a lightly floured glass or bottle does the trick. No surface to roll dough on? Use the floor, covered in cling film. The common theme with all the flatbread recipes I have found, then subsequently adapted is that all need flour, water, a little salt and oil / Ghee. It cannot be simpler.
My last experience of making flatbread away from the comfort zone of my kitchen was just last month, and I was really fortunate to introduce Azni and Hazmir to the method and madness to my cooking, and my Oregano flatbreads. It was quite an event bringing nearly all the kitchen utensils, pan, mixing bowl – you name it – to the rented airbnb apartment, but worth every minute. Now back home in Melbourne, I truly hope that you’ll give these a go, not forgetting all those healthy salads I am sure you are hooked on by now. ;o)
Whilst searching for a great use for Oregano – I found a recipe by Gino Di Campo for Piadine Romagnole – Flatbread flavoured with Oregano) in his book Italian Home Baking. Accordingly, the robust and versatile Piadine Romagnole translates as’ peasant bread’, and can be made from scratch in 40 minutes. Half of this time is to allow the dough to prove. As we bought so much Oregano back from Sicily (had the customs officer opened my bag and seen the stash of dried oregano, I am sure suspicion would have arisen) – I decided to go one step further – and make an oregano infused olive oil to add to the flatbread. Since my return, I have also ventured into making the infused oil – my favourite is a cheeky little chilli variety using fiery Sicilian dried chilli flakes. And wow, it certainly packs a punch in terms heat. I do plan to write a post on flavoured oils in due course.
I see this flatbreads as a ‘foundation’ – limited only by your imagination and the ingredients you have at hand. When made, they are comparable in texture and thickness to a thin pizza base, but far less heavy. I have tried many combinations based on what is around, and would consider my Italian Oregano Flatbread with Goats Cheese and Pear recipe to be one of my favourites. In addition to goats cheese and pear, I have added red onion and sun-dried tomatoes to complement the overall dish. Give it a go, and let me know! As ever, if you do not have the exact ingredients, do not be put off- simply adapt.
- 180g '00 grade' strong white flour
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
- 110ml warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (ideally oregano infused oil)
- Makes 4 flatbreads
- 4 x Italian Flatbreads (for recipe, see above)
- 4 x teaspoons of cherry sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil
- 8 x thin slices red onion
- 8 x slices ripe buffalo tomato
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 x pear, cored, and sliced into 8 wedges
- 8 x 5mm thick slices goats cheese (Chavroux La Bouche)
- handful rocket leaves
- 2 x teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2-3 tsp Sicilian chilli oil (optional)
- makes 4
- Sift flour into large mixing bowl, and whisk in sea salt and dried oregano.
- Using a silicone spatula, make a well in the centre and pour in the warm water and oregano infused olive oil.
- Mix together until a dough is formed.Remove from bowl and knead for 5 mins until elastic and smooth. Whilst this can be done on a floured surface, it works just as well kneading between floured hands. Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and and rest in a warm place fro 20-30 mins.
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out the first into a 18 cm disc (or whatever freestyle shape you prefer) using a silicone rolling mat and silicon rolling pin.
- Bring a large, lightly oiled non-stick frying pan to a medium heat to approximately 200 degrees*
- Cook each bread for 2 mins on each side until starting to brown and flip over.
- Whilst cooking, roll out the next disc.
- Transfer to a cooling rack.
- Once you have cooked the flatbread, turn down the heat in the pan and heat up a little olive oil. Add the pear wedges, season with sea salt and a little black pepper, and drizzle over the balsamic vinegar. Sweat the pears for 3-4 mins.
- Place a flatbread on a plate. Add a teaspoon sun-fried tomato in olive oil and spread on top. Add a few rocket leaves.
- Place red onion slices on top, stack with tomato, then the goats cheese slices. Using a chef's torch, quickly scorch the cheese until it starts to bubble and char.
- Add the pear wedges, then drizzle a little chilli oil on top, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper.
- Serve warm and enjoy!