herbed flatbreads with honey-roasted beets, avocado, and walnuts

6:14:00 PM

When Bob and I first started dating, I think the first meal we ever ordered in was pizza from Roman Candle. They’re a great local pizza place - very local to us, in fact, in that they’re directly across the street. They have helped us many drunken nights where we don’t feel much like cooking. There’s better pizza on our street, but this location can’t be beat and, well, they also serve Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, so. 

The pizza Bob liked and ordered that first day that I ever had Roman Candle was called the Algo Malo, and it’s a delicious combination of beets, arugula, caramelized onions, walnuts, and blue cheese over a base of alfredo sauce. It’s really delicious. 



So it’s no surprise that when Bob decided to make dinner and wanted flatbreads, he went with a beet-walnut-blue cheese combination. It was super great, and I made him tell me everything he did so I could try to re-create it later. 

Of course, I didn’t quite make it as good as he did, and I added some tweaks, but I still loved the result. I always hated beets, but I grew to love them after receiving them in our CSA for several weeks in a row and being forced to use them in different ways. Roasted beets are fantastic and so different from those gross pre-cooked refrigerated beets (I’m looking at you, Trader Joe’s) or canned beets. Fresh is the only way to go here.

A couple notes. I make my own flatbread, because flour is cheap and fresh is best. I’ve included the recipe here. I don’t make a lot of my own bread, but basic tarts and flatbreads and pitas are so easy and so much better than their store-bought counterparts that it’s worth it to me to make. I just made the dough the night before, stuck it in the fridge and it was risen and ready to go the next day. This dough is a dream - not sticky, very easy to work with, smooth, and you don’t need a stand mixer or any other equipment to make it  - just a rolling pin to roll it out. It’s basically a dump-in-a-bowl, knead quickly, and you’re done kind of dough. 

All that being said, feel free to use store-bought flatbread, pitas, naan, pizza crust, whatever you want. 

The only other time-consuming part of this recipe are the beets. They have to roast for a while - like an hour - but they’re delicious. You can do this the night before too, if you want. It’s not hard. 

I nixed the alfredo sauce on the original pizza this was based on and replaced it with just a light coating of garlicky olive oil to make it a bit lighter. 

The sugared walnuts are my absolute favorite part of this flatbread, and I think works super well with the other ingredients, but if you’re anti-sugar, a simple toasted walnut is just fine. 



herbed flatbreads with honey-roasted beets, avocado and walnuts

for the herbed flatbread
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (one packet)
¾ cup water (about 110 degrees)
1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme,  basil, or oregano are all good choices; I used half a tbsp each of rosemary and thyme)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp olive oil

for the beets
2 large beets (red or golden works), peeled and cut into about ¾ inch cubes 
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

for the walnuts
1 tbsp butter
½ cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp brown sugar
a few drops of vanilla (optional but tasty)
salt to taste

for serving
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
a shake of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

4 oz blue cheese (if not a fan, use a smoked cheese)
baby spinach leaves (a handful) - I have some sliced ones for garnish also
1 avocado, diced
about 20 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Make the flatbread: 

Stir together the yeast and warm water in a small bowl, and let sit for about five minutes until yeast foams.

In a large bowl, combine the herbs, salt, sugar, and flour, and whisk well. 

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour the water/yeast mixture and 1 tbsp olive oil into the well, and stir well until it forms a dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for a few minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. Add a little bit more flour if it’s sticky.

Oil a bowl (I just pour a little bit of olive oil into a bowl and rub around with a paper towel) and place the dough ball inside, rolling around to coat in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour in a warm place before using. Alternatively, place in the fridge after covering and let rise in the fridge overnight. 

When ready to use: If you’ve refrigerated it overnight, let dough rest at room temp for about an hour (if you’ve just let it rise, this is unnecessary.) Divide dough into four equal(ish) portions. Working with one portion at a time, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a round(ish) shape - it doesn’t have to be perfect. You want it to be about 1/8th inch thick. 

Heat a large skillet (cast iron is best) over medium heat. Lightly oil the pan (or spray with oil) and, working with one piece of flatbread at a time, place the dough in the skillet. Let brown on one side for about two minutes, then flip and brown on the other side. You should see some pockets rising in the dough - that’s good! 

Once all four flatbreads are cooked, set aside until ready to use.

for the beets
I like to make the beets while the flatbread dough is resting or when I’m cooking, since they take a while to roast. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl, then add the chopped beets and mix well. Scoop the beets into a large piece of aluminum foil, pour over the excess marinade (if there’s a lot extra you may not use it all, you don’t want it super liquidy) and wrap the foil tightly around the beets. Cook in the oven for about an hour (you can start checking around 40 minutes) and remove when they are fork-tender. 

for the walnuts
Melt the tablespoon of butter in a nonstick skillet, then add the walnuts. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring constantly, to toast. Sprinkle over the two tablespoons of brown sugar, continuing to stir, and a bit of vanilla extract if you’d like. Once walnuts are fragrant and toasted, remove from heat and set aside.

for assembly
When everything is ready to go, assemble the flatbreads. Set an oven rack a few inches beneath the broiler and pre-heat the broiler.  In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, a couple dashes of salt and pepper. Brush the olive oil mixture onto the flatbreads (it’ll be a light coating.) Place a few leaves of spinach onto each flatbread. Then, top the flatbreads evenly with the beets, halved tomatoes, and blue cheese. Place the flatbreads on a cookie sheet (I did this in two batches) and place under the broiler. Broil for just a couple minutes until the cheese starts to brown and everything is heated through. Watch really carefully, because the flatbreads can start to brown VERY quickly. 


Remove from oven and top flatbreads with the avocado and walnuts. I garnished with some sliced baby spinach, but parsley  would be welcome here, too! 

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