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Summer time usually means pizza time for our family. I’m not 100% certain as to why, but it happens every summer. There is just something about putting a fresh made pizza in the oven or on the bbq that drags us back as soon as the temperature heats up. Through the winter we delve into soups, stews and hearty one-pot meals and roasted foods to heat the house and fill it with the rich scents of winter. The summer demands a different diet.

Salads and pizza constitute the main focus of our food choices, which means both need to get really creatively inventive over week after week of hot summer nights. Creatively inventive, you say? Why yes – have I mentioned that neither my son or my husband eat cheese with any regularity, and usually treat it like some kind of poison if found on their pizza. I know…I don’t get them either, but we have adapted over the years to thinking of our “pizza” as the mozzarella stringy and gooey heaven, into considering our pizzas more as flat breads. Many times we even eschew tomato sauce as a base for other stranger options. Here are three of our favourites from this month:

Spiced Beef Flat Bread

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How do you make a pizza with just meat and not think that you’re eating a heart attack? Extra lean ground beef is our option. Frequently after eating a pizza stuffed with processed pepperoni, sausage, or cured meats we felt a little sick from the sheer quantity of meat. We switched to an extra lean ground beef and ground pork blend, which we fry up into a spicy concoction with pine nuts. Each of our pizzas for this month have a base 8 inch whole wheat thin crust pizza dough round.

  1. Whole Wheat dough rolled out to about 8 inches in diameter
  2. Brush the dough with olive oil
  3. Spread a base. We used a hummus-tahini blend which is in essence 1/2 cup chickpeas, 1 tbsp tahini, juice of half a lemon and one crushed garlic clove all blended smooth in the food processor (add water or the “water” from canned chickpeas to thin if necessary) and spread thin.
  4. Apply the desired amount of meat
  5. Heat the bbq to 500 with the pizza stone or pan on the grill. Remove the pan, pop on your crafted pizza and toss back on the grill and close the lid for 8-10 minutes

Spiced Meat

For our meat inspiration we turn to Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem every time. His recipe for Kofta b’siniyah keeps us returning for more.

  • 2/3 cup tahini
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • 400 g ground pork
  • 400 g extra lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 7 tbsp coarsely chopped pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp all spice (or garam masala)
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp coarse salt

Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands, squeezing the spices and nuts throughout the meats. Now, the finish is your choice. You can form your meat into oblong kofta “balls” or you can just fry the meat. We opted for frying the meat until completely cooked then topping our pizza.

This pizza tastes more “nutty” than “meaty”, and using a middle eastern-inspired blend of spices for the meat goes with a base of hummus or tahini like a dream. At first you’ll think: how can I eat a pizza that has no cheese – when you get into this pizza you’ll never miss it. Top with lemon and fresh pepper.

Potato Thyme Flatbread

Earlier in the summer I bought Russell Norman’s Polpo, and within its delicious pages I found a potato pizza recipe that we have kept refining with each pizza made until it is exactly how I personally like it.

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  1. Roll out an 8 inch whole wheat flatbread crust.
  2. The base of this flatbread is just straight olive oil with a little kosher salt
  3. Send baby potatoes and 1/4 of a red onion through the slicer on the food processor for a mostly uniform potato size and then dump everything in the processor bowl into a pot of boiling water. Blanch the potato and onion for 4 minutes. At first I didn’t blanch the onion with the potato, but I prefer the more soft and cooked onion flavour.
  4. After draining and allowing to cool for around 10 minutes, spread out the potato and onion on the flatbread crust then sprinkle with salt and a generous helping of fresh ground black pepper.
  5. Heat the oven with the pan in at 500, once ready, slide your pizza onto the pan and into the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  6. Upon removing from the oven top the pizza with thyme leaves and some grated smoked cheddar.

I topped the pizza with a little lemon and ate it with a side of fresh sliced jalapeño. Without hesitation, I can recommend this pizza as my favourite of the summer thus far. I was the only one that had smoked cheddar on my pieces and I found it to be an excellent flavour match for the potatoes and onions.

Lentil, Zucchini & Tomato Flatbread with Dill

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Last night we tried the most daring flatbread combination for us, and it turned out so pretty in its presentation. I love grilled zucchini and tomato. While looking through a promotional magazine for lentils, I came across a lentil base sauce. Hmmm…what might a lentil base taste like? This flatbread combines the peppery taste you get with red lentils and fresh veggies. I have to be honest. Something about the taste combination of lentils and zucchini was not the biggest hit with Hunter, but us adults we were pretty charmed. The recipe calls for feta, which I will try on my pieces next time, but for the time being – I sprinkled what I had — shaved parmesan.

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  1. Roll out the whole wheat pizza crust and dust with olive oil
  2. At 400 degrees roast the zucchini for 10 minutes with a little olive oil. (Like blanching the potatoes, you need to give the zucchini a  little cooked jumpstart for this meal.)
  3. Layer the base of lentil, dill

Lentil Dill Spread

  • Cook 1/3 a cup of red lentils in 2/3 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes and let cool
  • In a mixing bowl combine: 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill, 1 tbsp lemon zest and 4 sliced green onions.
  • When the lentils are cool, fold into with the mayonnaise mixture and spread as the base.
  1. Layer on the zucchini and sliced cherry tomatoes in beautiful circles and top with fresh ground pepper
  2. Turn the oven up to 500 degrees and heat the pan, when the oven has reached the temperature, pull out the pan and put your pizza on and slide into the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Top with feta (or parmesan, in my case) and fresh dill.

There you have it – 3 bizarre and tasty pizza/flatbread choices to explore.

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