Sunday, August 2, 2009

CSA, Week Seven: Two doughs, four flatbreads

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We've been getting herbs nearly every week in our CSA share, and even though I am splitting a single share with four other people, the big fresh bundles of dill, parsley, and cilantro were piling up in my refrigerator. I'd been storing them covered in a plastic bag with their cut stems submerged in a cup of water; while after a few weeks most had fared well, I was worried I wouldn't get around to using them before they rotted. I knew that adding a sprinkle of chopped dill or cilantro to dishes here and there wouldn't cut it. I started looking for recipes that would use up a lot at once, and that's where the idea of making herbed flatbreads came in.
My first experiment was to attempt a replication of the roasted garlic and parsley flatbread JL had served for our sockeye salmon feast, but since she hadn't posted a recipe for it on FoodMayhem, I was left to figure one out on my own.

Luckily, Colorado Review editor SG had recently given me a stack of old Cooking Light, Gourmet, and Bon Appetite magazines. While flipping through the August 2006 issue of Cooking Light I came upon a recipe for Bell Pepper Focaccia, and the base seemed good for what I was envisioning. I swapped out the bell pepper topping for mashed roasted garlic and finely chopped curly parsley, which I mixed together with olive oil and salt to form a loose paste; then I spread this paste over the risen focaccia dough and put it in the oven to bake for 28 minutes, as the Cooking Light recipe directed.

Unfortunately, 28 minutes was way too long. When I opened the oven door, I was dismayed to find dried-out herbs atop a tough, dark brown crust. It was far from the focaccia of my dreams, though the flavor of the roasted garlic and parsley tasted spot-on.
So I tried the focaccia again, this time with a topping of finely chopped cilantro and minced garlic, also mixed with olive oil and salt to form a loose paste. This time, I only baked the focaccia for fifteen minutes, and it was perfect. The slight sweetness of the fluffy dough combined with the cilantro, garlic, and salt was positively addictive. (Recipe at bottom!)
After that success I probably would have kept on going with focaccia, but then KS, who works at Cozzola's, bestowed upon me a large bag of leftover pizza dough. I wasn't sure how to work with the stuff so I just winged it: I rolled out the dough and topped it with layers of chopped up roasted cauliflower and broccoli (also from the CSA) and grated Monterey Jack cheese, then baked it in the oven at 400 degrees for about twenty minutes or half an hour. This combination proved delicious, but I should have let the dough rise for a bit before topping and baking—the crust was tough and almost cracker-like in the thinnest areas.
I wasn't going to try making another bread at that point, especially because I was leaving for NYC in just a few days, but then I realized I had a nearly full container of cottage cheese in the fridge that I had mixed with lemon juice and chopped CSA dill. (I'd done this with whipped cottage cheese before and had been delighted with its dip-like properties, but done with small-curd cottage cheese, the dip seemed to lose its charm. So I'd ignored it for a while.) I figured if I spread the mixture on top of pizza dough and baked it, it would be another decent flatbread of sorts and I'd want to scarf it down.

Unfortunately it didn't come out quite as I envisioned it, and the flavor was just okay. I ended up sticking most of it in the freezer, where it will probably languish some more. I'll have to work with this idea again.
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As for other CSA recipes, I only made a few new things: a salad combining chopped cherry tomatoes and CSA fresh raw peas with lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper; and a minimalist version of my "very merry broccoli salad," meaning chopped up broccoli, a dressing of half mayonnaise and half nonfat plain yogurt, and a few spoonfuls of cranberry chutney.

Oh, and French breakfast radishes? I know it sounds weird, but they are delicious when eaten sliced up on top of pita chips (specifically the Stacy's brand, which I am addicted to). Something about the toasty, salty, hearty crunch of the pita chips paired with the spicy, fresh crispness of the radishes just really works for me.

As always, if you have any suggestions for veggie preparations, I'd love to hear them. Hope everyone is doing well with their CSA bounty!

Cilantro-Garlic Focaccia
by Soopling

1 package dry yeast (about 2.5 teaspoons)
1 cup warm water (100 degrees to 110 degrees)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, divided (about 12.5 ounces)

1 cup finely chopped cilantro (about 1 bundle)
4 cloves minced raw garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl, followed by honey and salt. Stir until well blended. Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour to form a dough and turn out onto a floured surface. Knead about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic; as you knead, add enough of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. The dough will still be a bit sticky when it's ready.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with oil, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place free from drafts for about 45 minutes or until doubled in size. (It's done rising when an indentation remains in the dough after you've gently pressed a finger into it.) Punch dough down, and turn out onto an oiled jelly-roll pan or cookie sheet; press into an 10x8-inch rectangle. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

In the meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make the topping: mix the cilantro, garlic, olive oil, and salt together and let sit until dough is ready.

Uncover dough and make indentations in top of dough using your fingertips. Using a spoon or your fingers, evenly spread the cilantro topping over the dough.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until loaf is golden brown around edges and sounds hollow when tapped.

Yield: 8 servings


  1. I've been having precisely the same problem; I have herbs literally overgrowing in my garden (even a ravenous chocolate mint plant that gobbled up some weeds growing in its vicinity; now that's a determined herb). To address the herb issue, I've been making mayo mixtures for sandwiches, scrambled eggs with herbs, etc., but my very favorite is a potato salad party dish for BBQs. I used up almost all of my bounty the last time I brought this to a friend's shindig. I blog about it here:

    Sorry for the link, but beautiful flatbread!!

  2. looks so delicious! I've been eating so much herbs for almost no reason except to consume; not necessarily a bad thing and pestos are so played out anyway.

  3. EMC, thanks for the recipe, it looks fantastic! I'll give it a try next time my herbs start taking over my fridge again.

    avisualperson, mom's been making thin cilantro crepes and then using them as wrappers for meat/veg stir-frys. Might give that a go, too.