I recently came across a new food blog challenge, the Improv Challenge, a monthly food blogging event hosted by Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. In this challenge, everyone participating takes the same two assigned ingredients and then lets their imaginations run wild … sounds like fun, right?
This month’s assigned ingredients were potato and cheese, which just happen to be two of my favorite ingredients. The only problem with potato and cheese? Narrowing down just what to do with it because the options are basically limitless. As luck would have it, I was browsing through the latest issue of Everyday Food the same day I learned of the Improv Challenge, which helped my decision making tremendously.
Why, you ask? Because right there in the glossy pages was a fabulous recipe for potato and asparagus flatbread … which would not only be perfect for the Improv Challenge, it would be perfect for Spring as well. Okay, okay, I know it’s not officially Spring yet, but the weather we’re experiencing here in St. Louis would have you believing otherwise … and sunny skies and warm days are just what I needed lately. Come on, Spring!
I tried to find the aforementioned recipe on the Everday Food site, but it seems it still too new to be there yet … but I made some fairly significant changes to it and added a few ingredients too so I’m sharing my version with you below. So, did my version hold up as the perfect flatbread for Spring … and conquer the Improv Challenge as well?
Absolutely! The combination of roasted asparagus, soft baked potato, caramelized onion, kalamata olives, and feta cheese atop a thin, crispy flatbread was divine … crunchy, salty, roasty, and a touch sweet … even the meat lovers in our family enjoyed this delicious dish. I can’t wait to pick up some local asparagus at the farmers’ markets so I can make this wonderful recipe again!
Oh, the flatbread crust? The Chef recommended using Mario Batali’s basic bread dough recipe, and I’m glad we did. The recipe was easy to make, and it baked up beautifully … the edges were crispy, the bottom was chewy, and it had just the right amount of sweetness. We’ll be using this dough again to make more tasty flatbread creations!
On to the recipes!
Asparagus and Potato Flatbread
- 1 recipe basic bread dough, prepared (recipe follows)
- 1/4 cup garlic infused olive oil (recipe follows)
- 2 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed, then cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives, finely minced
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Kosher salt
- Fresh black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place potatoes in a parchment-lined baking dish, brush with some of the garlic oil then sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Bake for 1 hour or until soft. Remove from oven, let cool, then slice.
2. While the potatoes are baking, saute the onions in a saute pan over medium heat until softened and lightly brown; if you prefer fully caramelized onions, continue to cook to this stage.
3. Divide each bread dough half into four equal portions (you will have eight small bread portions). Using a rolling pin, roll two portions into long, thin pieces and place on a large baking sheet. Roll out the remaining dough for additional flatbreads (and top with other toppings of your choice) or wrap dough tightly and freeze for later use.
4. Brush each crust with some of the garlic oil, then top with potato slices, caramelized onions, asparagus, olives, feta, and then sprinkle with black pepper to taste.
5. Increase oven temperature to 450°F. Bake flatbreads for 12 to 15 minutes until edges of crust and top of flatbreads are brown. Remove from oven and serve.
NOTES: The Chef and I actually used the pasta roller attachment on our KitchenAid mixer to roll out the flatbread, which resulted in an even thickness for each crust (though each was shaped a bit different … I call that “rustic”). This worked out well since we were serving our entire family and each person got to make their own flatbread and everything baked in the same amount of time. But, there are no rules here; if you’d prefer to make 4 larger, thicker flatbreads, or even just two pizzas, divide the bread dough however you see fit and bake a bit longer to ensure the crust is done.
Mario Batali’s Basic Bread Dough
- 1/4 cup light red wine or white wine
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 package yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
1. Combine the wine, water, and yeast in a large bowl; stir until dissolved. Add the honey, salt, and the olive oil; mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
2. Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have a smooth, firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
3. After 45 minutes, cut the risen dough into 2 equal pieces and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rise for 15 minutes. The dough is now ready to be used.
NOTES: The Chef and I chose an inexpensive pinot grigio for this recipe since it went with the flavors of the toppings for this flatbread. I’m curious to this recipe with red wine instead!
Garlic Infused Olive Oil
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the garlic and olive oil to a boil (which may spatter; take care so as not to get burned), then turn the heat to low, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until the garlic is lightly browned.
2. Turn off the heat, remove the saucepan from the burner, and set aside. Let sit for 30 minutes; the garlic will continue to cook and soften.
3. Remove the garlic cloves from the oil; garlic and oil can now be used separately.
NOTES: We used the softened garlic cloves on another flatbread we made; it would also be a good addition to pasta sauces or even just smeared on a hunk of crusty bread and devoured. Whatever you do, use both the garlic cloves and the oil immediately and throw away any leftovers. Garlic-infused oils can develop botulism when left to sit, even if refrigerated, so don’t risk it.