Pesto, Pear and Parmigiana Flatbread
I am slightly embarrassed by this flatbread, but not for the reasons that you would expect. It’s not because I’m still trapped in an early 90’s bandwagon of thinking that pesto is the greatest thing ever, although I do have a particular penchant for the green goodness. I’m also not embarrassed about doing a flatbread recipe, which is oh so bourgeois right now. What I’m actually embarrassed about is how much I enjoyed it….and how I’ll be eating it for lunch again today, and I’m literally counting down the minutes until noon…..and how I’m already planning when I can make it again, which will probably be the day after we finish these leftovers. Or sooner, because I panic at the thought of NOT having Pesto, Pear and Parmigiana Flatbread in my kitchen, now that know how very welcome it is.
A quick note on the ingredients – I’ve mentioned before that I love my parent’s jungle of a backyard because it’s always so exciting to see what’s growing. Sadly, I didn’t inherit the green thumb gene. On a selfish note, I ALSO love their garden because it also saves me a lot of money in the summer and fall when I pillage and plunder their garden for groceries. Yup. I’m THAT kid. So far this year I’ve fleeced them of cherries, raspberries, zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, apricots, blackberries, and I’m headed for their pears. Boy, do I ever love pear season.
Okay, okay – I can feel some of you starting to object already, saying that pear season in Ontario was a few weeks ago. That is not untrue, and my parents’ Anjou pear tree peaked in mid August. But now we’re in BOSC pear season, and they happen to be my favourites. Bosc pears are good for eating, baking, poaching, drying – they’re just good pears.
As for the pesto, I had a dream the other day about a Pesto and Pear Panzanella…with Pecorino. I’ve been fixated on the combination ever since, and I finally decided that YESTERDAY WOULD BE THE DAY…but then I was overcome by a craving for flatbread, so that was the end of that.
One thing to remember about this recipe is that the dough needs to rest for at least two (2) hours, so plan your time accordingly. On the plus side, if you’re daunted by the prospect of making fresh bread because of all the persnickety kneading and whatnot, than this flatbread recipe is for you. It couldn’t be easier and there is no fuss with kneading and punching down, you just give it a stir and let the yeast work it’s magic. I promise, a one armed monkey could make this dough – so fear not!
Pesto, Pear and Parmigiana Flatbread
Makes 2 large flatbreads
- 1.5 cups of warm water
- 1 tbsp active yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.5 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cups all purpose flour, + more to dust
- 2.5 – 3 large Bosc pears
- 1/2 cup pesto *
- 1/2 medium sweet onion, like Vidalia
- 4 – 5 ounces Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
Mix the yeast, sugar, salt and water in a medium large mixing bowl. The water should not be hot, but it should not be cold. Let the water run until it is warmer than body temperature but not so hot that it is uncomfortable.
When the yeast has bloomed, which will take about 5 minutes or so, add the olive oil. When yeast blooms it swells and froths. Don’t be alarmed, this is how it’s supposed to look.
Mix in the flour.
Using a wooden spoon or paddle, stir until all of the flour is combined. It will start to come together a bit into a sticky ball as soon as the flour is mixed. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave it in an area that it not cold or drafty as it rises. Now you can forget all about it for the next two hours, so I suggest doing laundry (aka, watching Coronation Street and drinking wine).
When you’re approaching the 2 hour mark and your dough has risen (it will have almost doubled in size), start prepping the toppings. Slice the pears in half, remove the tops and bottoms as needed, and scoop out the seeds. A melon baller is a great tool to do this.
Slice the pears rather thinly, no more than 1/4 inch thick.
Thinly slice the onion.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. You want it to be nice and toasty before the flatbread goes in.
Flour your counter top well because the dough will be sticky. Turn the dough out of the bowl and scrape off any sticky bits which were being resistant, insist that they join the rest of the crew. Flour the top of the dough as well.
Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces, and again try to make sure that everything the dough is touching is lightly floured or it will stick.
Roll each half out into a long thin rectangle. It should be slightly (about 1 inch) longer than the length of your largest baking sheet. I would give you measurements, but who are we kidding here? If it starts to stick as you roll it out, lift the sticky area and dust some more flour underneath.
Carefully transfer the dough to your baking sheet. If you are as clumsy as I am, it helps if you can just slide it off the counter and right onto the sheet. If it stretches or even tears, please don’t worry. This dough is almost tragically forgiving, and you can just mush it together where the damage occurred and it will be no worse for wear. Where you have an overhang, turn the dough over by about 1/2 inch all around to form a slightly raised crust.
Dollop half of the pesto onto each flatbread and smooth it out into an even layer.
Arrange half of the pear slices on each piece. If there is leftover pear, well, you’ve earned yourself a snack as this cooks.
Separate the onion and spread it out evenly on top.
Grate your fresh cheese and sprinkle this evenly on top. Ooh, this is where it starts getting good….
Bake this in the center of your hot preheated oven for about 10 – 15 minutes until it starts to get golden brown on top and on the bottom. If the top is browning too fast and the bottom is still looking somewhat doughy, you can tent the top with tin foil and pop it back in for another 5 minutes. Look at it, cooking away!
Let it cool for just a few minutes before cutting into it. The flatbread can be served warm or at room temperature, and it makes a delightful starter, brunch dish, or light lunch served with a peppery arugala salad in a simple vinaigrette with some shaved parm on top.
I’m starting to get emotional, this bread was so good. So very, very good. Make it. Please. Soon.