Homemade grilled flatbread, seasoned with the bright and lemony za’atar spice blend, is the perfect side dish for hot soups this winter. (They’re dippable!) It’s easiest yeast bread you’ll ever make: just a few minutes of hands-on work, a nice rest, then grill ’em up and serve ’em hot. Delish!
If you’ve made it this far down in the post — past the point above where I uttered those frightful words, yeast bread — then I think it’s safe to say that you and I are muy simpatico about the awesomeness of homemade bread.
Hi, Homemade Bread Lovin’ Friend! Let’s make the easiest of all the breads of all the world: flatbread!
And then, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to make an odd number of flatbreads (5) for an even number of people, and after we’ve seasoned them with tasty olive oil, flaky salt, and puckery-wonderful za’atar spice, I’m going to take that extra one and go hide, and slowly pull the fresh and toasty flatbread apart into steamy pieces and eat each piece one at a time, while trying to stifle all the mmmmmm’s coming out of my throat, lest I be found out and exposed for the greedy za’atar flatbread eating girl that I am. And then at dinner I’m going to eat my share of the rest of the flatbreads as if nothing ever happened.
Because homemade, yeasty, puffy, grilled flatbread is just that hide-some-for-yourself good!
If you’ve never been up-close-and-personal with the spice blend, za’atar (or zaatar or zahtar or sometimes zatar, if your a’s get away from you), let me do the introductions:
“Homemade Bread Lovin’ Friend, meet Za’atar. Za’atar, meet my Bread Homie.”
Za’atar, the spice blend, is an herbaceous, lemony combination of thyme leaves, toasted seasame seeds, ground sumac, and sometimes salt.
I love za’atar, and it tops lots of my everyday eats, from cottage cheese on toast to labneh on pita chips to plain-jane chicken soup. And you haven’t had hummus until you’ve had hummus made with lots of creamy tahini and za’atar. The best snack dip ever.
You can find za’atar at Middle Eastern grocery stores, or online at Penzey’s. Peeps local to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, try Colonel De’s (whom I secretly refer to as Spicemaster De, because while he might resemble Colonel Sanders more than he does Calvin Harris, his creative brilliance on the herb-and-spice deck lets us Cincinnati home cooks spin up all kinds of delish eats).
Anyway … at the top of this post, I made the audacious claim that grilled flatbread made with yeast is easy.
I shall not tell a lie.
It is super-easy! (holla!)
Instant yeast does all of the heavy lifting. You, meanwhile, get to do some highly therapeutic dough kneading*, and then you put the ball of future goodness in a bowl, and let warmth and time do its thang.
And rolling out flatbread dough is not like rolling out pie dough, where you feel the need for more Martha Stewart perfection than the average pie baker can possibly muster. Flatbread is rustically charming, so an irregularly shaped flatbread is the name of the game. Just say no to perfect pie circles!
*SoupAddict doesn’t know where dough kneading got such a bad rap, because, seriously, it’s grab the dough into a ball, push it away from you with the heels of your hands, make a quarter turn and fold the top over, push with the heels of your hands, and repeat, until the dough is nice and smooth. Easeh peaseh.
And if you still don’t believe me, watch my video above — if I can manage to make za’atar grilled flatbread and film it all with the most precarious, ill-advised camera set-up ever in the history of video-making, all at the same time, I guarantee that you, my Bread Lovin’ Friend, are more than coordinated enough to do just the bread by itself.
Here’s a fall dinner idea: mix up the dough, set it aside to let it rest. Then, get this curried pumpkin soup going. Keep the soup warming while you grill up the flatbreads.
Za’atar grilled flatbread dipped into rich and creamy curried pumpkin soup … deeeelicous!
- 3 cups bread flour plus extra for kneading
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for brushing
- 1 cup warm water 100°F to 115°F
- 1 teaspoon finishing salt such as flaky or gray
- 2 teaspoons za'atar spice blend
Add bread flour, Kosher salt, and instant yeast to a large mixing bowl and stir briefly to combine. Add the olive oil and water and stir with a wooden (or similar) spoon. The dough will slowly begin to come together in scraggly scraps. If there is too much unincorporated flour in the bottom of the bowl, add more warm water, one tablespoon at a time, until combined. Note that you don't want the dough to become too wet - it's better to leave a little flour behind than have soggy dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead for about five minutes, or until the dough becomes soft and pliable and forms a smooth ball.
Place in an oil-rubbed bowl, with room enough to expand, cover, and let rest for one hour or until doubled. If making ahead, you can place the bowl in the refrigerator. The dough will rise slowly in the cold temps, but will keep for a couple of days.
Heat the grill or a stovetop grill pan on medium-high.
Turn out the dough onto a roomy surface and pat into a rectangle. Use a sharp knife or bench cutter to divide the dough into 4 or 6 pieces (4 will create a nice size for soup; 6 as a side for a more substantial meal).
Flatten one dough ball, and then roll out to a thickness of about 1/4". The shape can be irregular. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
Lightly brush one side of the first flatbread with olive oil, sprinkle with finishing salt, place oiled side down on the hot grill. Lightly brush the "up" side with olive oil and sprinkle with more salt. When the flat bread is puffy and bubbly (just a few minutes), flip (it should be sturdy). Sprinkle the grilled side with za'atar. When the underside is done, remove from the heat and repeat with the remaining flatbreads (if your grill has room, you can cook them all at the same time).
You can serve the hot flatbreads immediately, or leave them to sit at room temp for an hour or so.