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An attempt to trace a flatbread back to a single country of origin often ends in a cold trail.  This bread, for example, is similar to a Middle Eastern variety that is sprinkled with a blend of thyme and other herbs called Za’atar.  Versions of it are made in many different countries.  But it also resembles a Turkish bread topped with spiced meat.  And the meat is simmered down into a sauce with tomato and cinnamon, which adds a Greek component to the finished bread.  The Cilantro-Parsley Chutney served with the bread has clearer antecedents–it comes from a Yemeni recipe, provides a healthy burn, and a little goes far.

The result of borrowing compatible good things from multiple sources is a flatbread of pronounced character suited to a variety of occasions.  It is good hot–or not–and transports easily, thus making it a bread of many uses:  for picnics, as an hors d’oeuvre, or as part of a light lunch–perhaps with a salad that is also composed of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern flavours.

Mediterranean Merguez Flatbread with Hot Cilantro ~ Parsley Chutney (for 1 14-inch round Flatbread)

Please Note:  There was a mistake made in the original posting of the ingredients for this recipe:  The correct amount of flour for the flatbread dough is 2 and 1/4 cups.  Apologies for this error.

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF

Ingredients for the Dough:

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of instant-dry Yeast
  • 2/3 cup warm Milk
  • a pinch of Sugar
  • 2 and 1/4 cups white, unbleached Flour
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1 whole Egg, beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, plus some for brushing on the pizza pan and oiling the bowl in which the bread dough rises

Ingredients for the Merguez Topping:

  • 10 ounces of Merguez sausages
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves of Garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 can of Italian Tomatoes, drained and chopped, and their juices reserved
  • 1 teaspoon of Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons of ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground Cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse ground Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Sumac
  • 1 teaspoon of Sugar

Ingredients for the Za’atar Topping  (Herb Mixture )Za’atar is the name of a variety of thyme and is also the name of an herb mixture that includes thyme.  Recipes for the mixture abound–and prepackaged varieties of it are available, too.

  • 1 teaspoon of dried Thyme Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Oregano Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of Savory
  • 1 teaspoon of Sesame Seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Sumac
  • 1 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • Or:  1 Tablespoon plus 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of prepared Za’atar

Equipment:

  • a 14-inch round Pizza Pan:  the photographed flatbread was made on a Lodge Cast-Iron Pizza Pan
  • two large Bowls:  one for mixing the dough and another for the rise of the dough
  • a heavy-bottomed Pan with a lid for making the merguez topping
  • a small bowl for mixing the Za’atar, if preparing the homemade blend

I.  Mixing the Flatbread Dough:

1.  In a large bowl, mix the yeast and warm milk together, with the pinch of sugar. When the mixture is foamy, add the flour, salt, beaten egg and olive oil.

2.  Stir to combine everything well, and once it comes together into a ball, knead until the mixture forms a dough.  Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic, and let it rise until it has about doubled in size.  (The time of the rise depends on the weather and temperature.  1 and 1/2 hours is a generous estimate.)

II. Making the Merguez Topping:

1.  Slit open the sausage casings lengthwise…

…and remove the ground meat filling. Usually the filling comes away from the casing easily…

2.  Heat the olive oil in the pan and sauté the onion over medium heat until it begins to turn golden.  Add the garlic and sauté it for a minute, stirring.  Add the ground Merguez sausage and brown it.

3.  Add the cinnamon, cumin, cloves, black pepper, sumac and sugar and mix them well with the meat, onion and garlic.  Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice.  Cover the pan and simmer the topping gently until the juice of the tomatoes is evaporated and the mixture has thickened.

III. Mixing the Za’atar

1.  Put all the herbs and spices in a small bowl and mix them together.

IV.  Assembling and Baking the Flatbread:

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 F.  Oil the pizza pan.

2.  Roll out the dough into a circle a little larger than the size of the pan.  Spread it out on the oiled pan, and sprinkle it with half of the Za’atar (or 1 Tablespoon of prepared Za’atar):

3.  Spread the meat topping over the flatbread.  Sprinkle the topping with the rest of the Za’atar…(2 and1/2 teaspoons if using prepared Za’atar):

4.  Bake the flatbread for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until it is golden.  Slide it off the pan onto a cooling rack.

A suggestion for serving the bread at a picnic:  Place the bread on a round cutting board and wrap the bread and board in aluminum foil for transporting.  Unwrap and slice the bread in situ…

The flatbread is good with a little Hot Cilantro ~ Parsley Chutney…A little of this chutney goes a long way, even for those who like some flame in their food.

Hot Cilantro ~ Parsley Chutney (for about 1 cup of Chutney)

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces of Red Bell Pepper, cut in cubes
  • 2 ounces of Thai Green Chilis, seeded and cut in pieces:  if your tolerance for heat is moderate, you might start with a smaller amount and add more after tasting.
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup of Cilantro Leaves
  • 3/4 cup of Parsley, of any sort
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 pod of Cardamom, ground in a spice grinder or by hand using a mortar and pestle or the flat side of a broad knife blade
  • 1 and 1/2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil, and a little more if the mixture is on the dry side after it is ground

Equipment:

  • a Food Processor or Blender
  • a Spice Grinder or Electric Coffee Grinder that performs as a spice grinder is useful for crushing the Cardamom or…a flat side of a knife blade or a mortar and pestle will do the job, too.

1.  Put the pieces of red pepper and chili in the processor and grind them coarsely.

2.  Add the cilantro, parsley, cumin, salt, pepper, crushed cardamom and olive oil and process again.  The chutney will be textured, not a smooth paste–but if it seems dry, add a few more drops of olive oil and process again.

3.  Store the chutney in a sealed jar.  It will keep, refrigerated, for about a month.

A Note:  Mediterranean Merguez Flatbread with Hot Cilantro ~ Parsley Chutney is part of the Occasional Menu:  Into the Picnic Basket.

Acknowledgements:  Mediterranean Merguez Flatbread is adapted from Elizabeth David’s recipe for Middle Eastern Lamb Pizza in her book At Elizabeth David’s Table (2011).  That recipe appeared here in the ‘Cook the Book’ feature of the website Serious EatsHot Cilantro ~ Parsley Chutney is an adaptation of Anissa Helou’s recipe for Z’houg from her cookbook Mediterranean Street Food (2002).

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011

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