Zucchini & Herbed Ricotta Flatbread
I just got home from a girls weekend at the beach. My dear friend is getting married in September and I’m her matron of honor. We actually met 10 years ago working at Chili’s! How often do I talk about Chili’s? I believe it’s borderline embarrassing at this point. But it was a great weekend in Ocean City MD– although reapplying sunscreen didn’t seem to happen. Ever.
I worked on a few new recipes before I left. One thing I’ve been meaning to share with you is a homemade flatbread dough. Similar to pizza dough, but not quite as springy. Much… flatter. Who woulda thunk?! When I got to work, I decided to bombard this innocent flatbread dough with mountains of zucchini, ricotta, crushed red pepper, some basil, goat cheese, and colorful tomatoes. The red ones, interestingly enough, match the current state of my shoulders.
I feel like this is an awesome round-up of flavors and textures! Both flatbreads didn’t last more than 24 hours in this house and Kevin praised it as one of the best pizzas I’ve ever made. The goat cheese was a sweeter variety, which I’ll tell you about in a sec, the tomatoes were salty and blistered (not like my shoulders, thank you sun gods), and the ricotta was wonderfully salty and herbed.
The homemade flatbread dough, though– that’s the real star of the show here.
Homemade flatbread dough– and pizza dough for that matter– is actually incredibly simple. If you have a fear of yeast, put those scary thoughts aside because it’s just another easy ingredient you’ll add to the mix. There’s very little rise time, so it’s a quick recipe you can make for dinner during the week. If you don’t have a lot of time, you can make the flatbread dough up to 2 days in advance and keep it in the fridge. And I actually find that time gives the dough just a little more flavor. So if you have time today, make the dough and enjoy flatbread for dinner later this week.
I’m not kidding you; this dough is so easy to handle. And convenient for making ahead!
The ingredients are pretty basic: flour, water, yeast, salt, and a touch of sugar. I like to add a quick splash of olive oil to give it all a little richness, but you can leave that out if you’d like. To be honest, Kevin didn’t really notice a difference between both test batches. When I asked him about it, his exact words were “it was the best pizza” and then “I can’t remember” and also “what is ricotta? I like it” and then “you should make Hawaiian flatbread with the ham soon.” He was very chatty about it!
I was inspired to use a zuchcini/ricotta/tomato blend for the topping from a recent issue of Cooking Light. I believe the magazine just used those fabulous toppings for a pizza, but I feel like flatbreads are very summery? Or maybe they’re just very in. And I say “in” knowing I’m not very “in” at all, but who doesn’t love a flatbread. And it’s something new I can teach you anyway. And you kind of feel better eating it because it’s not as much carb-y dough, right? That means we can have bakery-style peanut butter cookies for dessert.
Into the ricotta went a bunch of chopped fresh basil, a squeeze of lemon, sea salt, pepper, and some milk to thin it out a tad. That’s about it. Cooking Light threw some mint in there too, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about all that, so I left it out. This recipe makes 2 flatbreads, so the toppings are enough for both. You can easily halve the toppings if you’re just making 1 flatbread. I will say, however, that the flatbreads aren’t very big at all. And if you have more than 3 people eating, make both. If not, you can always have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
The whole situation was screaming for some goat cheese, so I used a honey goat cheese I had sitting in the refrigerator. I got it from Wegmans (and how much do I talk about Wegmans now?!!), but any goat cheese works. It’s all so delicious. Feta cheese would also be fantastic on top too. I was going to go with blue cheese, but felt the intense flavor would take over the rest of the lighter ingredients.
A sprinkle of fresh basil on top and we’re all set!
I’ll be making this again and again this summer. And apparently, a Hawaiian version too!
Zucchini & Herbed Ricotta Flatbread
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
- 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 Tablespoons milk, to thin
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (or a few cloves, chopped)
- 2 cups sliced zucchini (about 1 medium/large)
- 6-8 ounces goat cheese (depending how much you like!)
- optional: crushed red pepper flakes and fresh basil to top
- Make the crust: Place the yeast and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Or, if you do not own a stand mixer, a regular large mixing bowl. Pour water on top. Give it a light stir with a whisk and allow to sit for 5 minutes. The mixture should be frothy after 5 minutes. If not, start over with new yeast.
- If you do not have a mixer, you can mix by hand in this step. With the stand mixer running on low speed, add the flour, olive, oil, and salt. Beat on low speed for 1 minute as it all combines. The dough should be thick and shaggy. Transfer it to a lightly floured work surface, including any loose flour. Knead it with your hands for 3-4 minutes until it all begins to come together and becomes smooth. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add 1-2 more Tablespoons of flour.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl (I use nonstick spray to grease) and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to sit and rest for 35-45 minutes. Once it has rested and slightly risen, you can place it in the fridge for up to 2 days. More instructions in the make ahead tip below.
- As the dough is resting and rising, prepare the toppings. Toss the halved cherry tomatoes with 1 Tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread onto a parchment paper or silicone baking mat-lined baking sheet and bake in a 400°F (204°C) oven for about 20 minutes until blistered and roasted. Set aside.
- Turn the oven up to 475°F (246°C).
- Whisk the ricotta, basil, milk, lemon juice, and garlic together in a medium bowl. You can use a mixer for this if needed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Shape the dough: Punch the dough down to release any air. Divide the dough into two. On a lightly floured surface with floured hands and working with one dough piece at a time, begin shaping and stretching the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. You can use a floured rolling pin for this too. Don't worry about the shape of the dough! Repeat with the second piece of dough. Carefully transfer both pieces of dough to a parchment paper or silicone-mat lined baking sheet, or use a pizza stone. (You can also shape/roll out the doughs directly on a large sheet of parchment if that is easier for you and then just transfer the whole thing to the baking sheet.)
- Using a fork, prick a few holes into the surface of the doughs and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil each. Spread half of the ricotta mixture onto each, then top with zucchini, tomatoes, and finish the tops by crumbling the goat cheese on top of each.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust and toppings are browned to your liking. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with crushed red pepper, fresh basil, and/or freshly ground pepper. Slice and serve warm.
Make ahead tip: The tomatoes can be baked about 2 days in advance; just keep in the refrigerator until ready to use. Likewise, the ricotta mixture can be mixed and prepared 2 days in advance. Cover and keep in the refrigerator. The dough can also be prepared through step 3, then after it has risen-- you can cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Continue with step 4. If you'd like to freeze the dough, you can for up to 3 months. When ready to use, thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator. Then before making the flatbread, let the dough sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before stretching out/shaping and topping.
Adapted from June 2016 Cooking Light
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Thank you all so much for your incredible submissions to the comment and bake challenge last week! I’m blown away by your kitchen creativity and also very happy that we share the same tastebuds. Literally everything sounded mouthwatering. We have a randomly chosen winner (I used random.org) and I’m SO EXCITED to make banana cream pie! Thank you, Sara, comment #159. 🙂