Part Greek, part Asian, part pizza, part whatever, this veggie-blast is a delight on a weekday night! The culinary challenge this week was to give our family an interesting and pallet-pleasing series of vegetable-rich (not necessarily “vegetarian”) meals. On Tuesday, we had this little mediterranian-ish feast. We started off with some gluten free naan, then covered it with grilled vegetables and cheese and threw a fresh-cut salad with homemade vinaigrette in the middle. It’s family-style, and family-approved!
Here’s how we prepped…
This Gluten Free Naan recipe by Arti Sequeira is the way to go for the foundation of this veggie feast. It’s about 20 minutes of prep time and a few hours to let the dough rise a bit. (But it’s warm breadiness will win you over to the gluten free side.)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling, see Gluten-Free Cook's Note*
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Melted butter for slathering on the finished naans
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- In a large glass, dissolve the dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar with 3/4 cup warm water (about 100 degrees F). Let it sit on your counter until it's frothy, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, sift the flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and baking powder into a large, deep bowl.
- Once the yeast is frothy, add the yogurt and the olive oil into the glass, and stir to combine. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients, and gently mix the ingredients together with a fork. When the dough is about to come together, use your hands to mix. It will feel like there isn't enough flour at first, but keep going until it transforms into a soft, slightly sticky and pliable dough. As soon as it comes together, stop kneading. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let it sit in a warm, draft-free place for 2 to 4 hours.
- When you're ready to roll, make sure you have two bowls on your counter: one with extra flour in it, and one with water. The dough will be extremely soft and sticky-this is good! Separate the dough into 6 equal portions and lightly roll each one in the bowl of extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other.
- Shape the naan. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a teardrop shape, narrower at the top than at the bottom. It should be 8 to 9-inches long, 4-inches wide at its widest point and about 1/4-inch thick. Once you've formed the general shape, you can also pick it up by one end and wiggle it; the dough's own weight will stretch it out a little. Repeat this method with the rest of the dough. (If you're making the gluten-free version, you'll have better luck pressing the dough out with your fingertips, than rolling.)
- Warm a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it's nearly smoking. Make sure you have a lid large enough to fit the skillet and have a bowl of melted butter at the ready.
- Dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your naans, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it. Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble.
- After about 1 minute, flip the naan. It should be blistered and somewhat blackened, don't worry - that's typical of traditional naan! Cover the skillet with the lid and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more.
- Remove the naan from the skillet, brush with a bit of butter and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt. Place the naan in a tea towel-lined dish. Repeat with the rest of the naans and serve.
- *Cook's Notes: If you would like to make this gluten-free, you can substitute in 2 1/4 cups of a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix for the regular flour, plus 1 1/4 teaspoons of xanthum gum.
2: Make the eggplant cry.
Brent normally can’t stand the mushy texture of roasted or grilled eggplant. He’s put up with it over the years because, gosh-darn-it, sometimes I just need some grilled eggplant in my life! Well after all those years, I learned that I could have been doing things better with the eggplant. If you cut/slice the eggplant lengthwise, keeping them about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick, then baptism them in some sea salt, they’ll loose moisture and become drier. It looks like they’re crying. After about 20 minutes, wipe off those eggplant tears (and the salt), brush with olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and grill on high heat, 3 – 4 minutes per side. min. per side. Chop and set aside. (Boom you’ve got less mushy, and extremely delicious grilled veggie.)
3. Chop chop.
Chop up your salad vegetables, with whatever vegetables you constitute as Greek, or “Mediterranean,” or simply delicious. I chopped up buttter lettuce, red onion, kalamatta olives, cucumber, and tomatoes, keeping it simple. I also had feta cheese, crumbled and ready to throw on top when serving.
Here’s an earthy & simple vinaigrette to use for this meal:
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced red onion
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Whisk together vinegar, onion and dijon.
Slowly drizzle in:
1/4 cup olive oil
Whisk until emulsified. Add fine sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.
5. Create a veggie-feast:
- 6 - 8 pieces of gluten free naan
- 8 ounces of small mozzarella balls marinated in herbed oil, cut in 1/2, reserve oil
- 5 slices of bacon, baked crispy and crrumbled
- 1 grilled eggplant (see above prep), chopped into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- A delicious greek-like salad topped with a delicious vinaigrette (see above for inspiration)
- Preheat grill (or keep it on after you've grilled eggpllant and/or the naan) to medium high.
- Arrange mozzarella halves, bacon and eggplant on pieces of naan. Drizzle infused oil over the toppings and place on grill, cooking until the cheese has melted.
- Sprinkle finely chopped flat-leaf parsley on top, and slice into wedges. Arrange wedges around the perimeter of the plate.
- Place chopped salad in the center of the plate. Top with feta and vinaigrette. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette on top of the flatbread "pizza," take a picture of your pretty plate, and dig in!