I was incredibly inspired by my recent travels around Turkey. Partly because my grandma instilled a big Turkish culinary influence on us growing up and it was exciting to experience it first-hand, but also because every meal was beautifully delicious on those 2 weeks away. There were so many colors, flavors, textures, and scents. Breakfast was the most exciting way to start the day. There wasn’t an inch of space left on the table with all of the spreads, cheeses, preserves, salads, fruit, eggs, and baked goods. You literally think it can’t get any better, and then it’s lunch time. And lunch time meant, pides, eggplant-anything, böreks and all sorts of spreads like hummus and muhammara. Of course there were plenty of snacks during the day, a simit (Turkish sesame bagel) here and a Turkish delight or baklava there. Just as good as the day starts, it ends with a wonderful sharing experience filled with more mezze options for dinner. But I am not sharing my manti (Turkish ravioli), sorry not sorry.
This recipe was inspired by the traditional pide and lahmacun-- Turkish variations of what we’d call pizza. Amongst the many pide I ate, part of my inspiration came from a spread served on every breakfast we had in Turkey this summer, a mix of red pepper and tomato paste depending on the place. The base of this flatbread is a spiced tomato paste that adds another level to the combination of flavors beyond your standard tomato sauce, and with thinly sliced eggplant and feta, it is quite delightful. Make this Turkish flatbread and invite some friends! Got some extra eggplant to play with? Try these eggplant parm quinoa balls!
turkish flatbread with eggplant and feta
1 teaspoon sugar
1 (¼-oz) package active dry yeast
2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached, plus more
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon paprika
¾ teaspoon salt
1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced on mandoline or with knife, ⅛-inch thick slices
10 oz feta, crumbled
½ cup parsley leaves
Aleppo-style pepper, optional
*1 half sheet baking tray
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine sugar, yeast and ¾ cup warm water (115°F); stir gently to dissolve. Let stand for 8-10 minutes until mixture is foamy. Meanwhile, combine flour and salt; whisk to mix well. With the mixer on low, add the flour a little bit at a time until fully incorporated. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and increase speed to medium. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl to not leave anything behind. Mix on medium-low until the dough forms a ball. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 475°F. In a colander, sprinkle sliced eggplant with salt and set aside. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, tomato paste, cumin, coriander, paprika, and salt; stir to combine.
Lightly oil the sheet tray. Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a large rectangle approximately 18” x 13” to fit baking tray and transfer to oiled sheet tray. Press dough to cover all corners of tray. Spread spiced tomato paste evenly to all corners. Squeeze moisture from eggplant and blot any remaining salt and moisture with a paper towel. Top flatbread with half of the feta and layer eggplant slices to all edges, season with salt and pepper. Top with remaining feta and drizzle all over with olive oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the dough is golden and crisp. Cut and serve, garnish with parsley leaves.
*Vegan option: skip the feta and add thinly sliced red onion. Top with nutritional yeast spiked with garlic powder.