It is exceedingly difficult to photograph flatbreads appealingly. It is, however, exceedingly easy to consume said unphotogenic flatbreads at an alarming rate. Especially when smeared with a spoonful of yogurt or dipped into a greenish mound of smoked aubergine crush (I can't stop repeating this recipe title over and over in my head). Fragrant with herbs and sesame seeds, spiced chicken and the barely-there whisper of ground pistachios, the flatbreads bend and break in your hands. They're crunchy in some places, pliant in others. The yogurt adds a smooth textural note and a cooling sensation.
The recipe comes from Ana Sortun's cookbook that has been featured in both the LA Times and NY Times. Sortun, the chef at Oleana in Cambridge, is a spice obsessed and her recipes are vehicles for all those spice-filled jars and packets you have stowed away in your kitchen (or freezer, though it might drive your co-habitants nuts to have all those little glass jars clinking up against frozen brussels sprouts and limeade concentrate).
Despite the long list of ingredients, this recipe is quick and easy. You pulse together chicken with minced vegetables, dark-red sumac, aromatic Aleppo pepper, savory za'atar, toasted pistachios and some binding agents. This mixture is smeared onto Persian lavash (I bought a Lebanese version called pain du village that might have been a touch too thin, and got crispier results) and baked in a hot oven.
I left off the garnish of roasted red peppers and didn't miss them at all. For two girls catching up on life, the flatbreads were good enough for dinner, along with the eggplant and yogurt. But for future reference, I'll slice the cooked flatbreads into thick strips and serve them as an hors d'oeuvre. As for the leftovers? I created sort of Indo-Mexican roll-ups, with a layer of eggplant and then a layer of yogurt smeared onto the warmed flatbread and folded.
Tasty indeed - they could give Ilene Rosen's hot sandwich choices a run for the money.
Flatbreads with Spiced Chicken and Pistachios
Makes 8 servings
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3 red bell peppers, 1 minced, 2 roasted, peeled, seeded and cut into strips
1 small onion, minced
3 scallions, minced
2 teaspoons sumac, more for garnish
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon za'atar, more for garnish
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup lightly toasted, finely ground pistachio nuts
4 large rectangles of lavash
Pepper to taste
1 cup thick yogurt
1. Cut chicken into 2-inch chunks and place them in a food processor. Process to a smooth paste until it forms a ball, about 1 minute. Add minced red pepper, onion, scallions, sumac, Aleppo or cayenne pepper, za'atar, salt, egg, cream and pistachios, and pulse together just until incorporated, about 6 pulses.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; heat a pizza stone if you have one. Cut lavash into rectangles, about 5 by 6 inches. Cover each piece with about 1/3 cup chicken mixture, spreading to edges.
3. Place on a heavy baking sheet or pizza stone and bake 12 to 15 minutes, until crips and chicken is cooked through. While still hot, sprinkle with additional sumac and za'atar. Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt, and strips of roasted pepper on each.