Saturday, September 29, 2007

Catalan Flatbread with Piquillo Peppers, Caramelized Onions & Anchovies

Spanish food...the love affair continues. I, like many cookbook junkies I'm sure, snapped up Jose Andres' book, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America, soon after it came out. I was familiar with Andres from eating in one of his Washington, D.C. restaurants, and I love tapas. I have to shamefully admit that I haven't used the book much at all. It has a lot of motivating photography, and the recipes are not difficult for the most part. The best explanation I can come up with is that, realistically, an array of whimsical tapas dishes is not the simplest thing for the home cook to pull off.

If you enjoy tapas as much as I do, there are times when you find a way. Many of the recipes in this book could be entrees or sides as easily as they could be lunch or a mid-afternoon snack on the weekend. Tapas is not just about lots of small dishes, but a cooking philosophy of bringing together bold, high-quality ingredients in simple but interesting ways.

These flatbreads involve a homemade yeast dough, but wait--the recipe is formulated with a lot of yeast so it requires just one 30-minute rise. Flatbread recipes, like my beloved pizza dough, are simple as can be, but they do require waiting time. Not this one. It is ready so fast, you'll want to use it for other recipes.

Piquillo peppers are Spanish wood-roasted sweet peppers that pack a nice bit of heat. The come in jars like roasted red peppers (but they're not at all similar in taste), and you can find them in lots of grocery stores and gourmet shops.

For me and Mike, this would be great football watching food, but try it anytime you want something savory, salty and out of the ordinary.

Catalan Flatbread with Anchovies & Piquillo Peppers
Adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America by Jose Andres.

Makes 8

For dough:
2 packets (1/2 oz.) active dry yeast
1/2 c. whole or lowfat milk, gently warmed in the microwave (not scalding)
1 c. plus 3 tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt

For Flatbreads:
2 tbs. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
20 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 c. piquillo peppers (a little less than a 13 oz. jar), cut into small pieces
16 oil-packed anchovy fillets, halved crosswise
6 oz. Manchego cheese, grated (about 1 c.)

Stir the yeast into the warmed milk and let it rest for 5 minutes. Add the flour and salt to a food processor and pulse to combine. Pour the yeast mixture into the food processor and process for 1 minute, or until the dough is well-mixed. Remove the lid and cover the bowl of the food process with plastic wrap. Leave it in a non-drafty place to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add the olive oil to a large skillet, preferably cast iron or nonstick, and heat to medium-low. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasional for 15 to 20 minutes, or until caramelized--very soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper once they start to soften. If the skillet gets too dry before onions are done, add 1/2 tablespoon of water to prevent them from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.

Coast two baking sheets with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper. When the dough is finished rising, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 8 equal balls. Flatten them into an oval with your hand, then use a floured rolling pin to roll them out into long thin strips, about 10 x 2 inches. Place them on the baking sheets as you go.

Prick each flatbread two or three times with a fork. Divide the onions and olives among the flatbreads. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until cooked in the center and lightly browned around the edges. Top with the piquillo peppers, anchovies and Manchego. Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper on top and return to the oven for 2 minutes. Serve hot.

And a few more intriguing flatbread recipes from food blogs I heart:

1) Parmesan Skillet Flatbread from Je Mange La Ville.
2) Arabic Flatbread Pizza--a cheesy cultural hybrid from Morsels & Musings.
3) Ana Sortun's Flatbread with Spiced Chicken and Pistachios--No wonder I love The Wednesday Chef--she constantly writes about the kind of food I love, and she's into Ana Sortun!
4) Rosemary Pears on Flatbread with Mozzarella from Acme Instant Food lucks divine.

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MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Ah Julie, yes those do look so good. And now I must look for Piquillo peppers! I think you're right that it seems an array of whimsical tapas dishes is not the simplest thing for the home cook to pull off.

Anonymous said...

Anchovies anchovies, you're so delicious!
You are my favorite of all of the fishes!

Anna said...

piquillo peppers, anchovies and manchego!!! sounds divine. i want some now.

thanks for including my arabic flatbread pizza :)

Anonymous said...

I echo the 2 lines from the anonymous dude/dudette. I'm always on the hunt for a tasty treat including anchovies as an ingredient. Thanks for sharing your scrumptious version with us!

ChovyChap 2008