Chef Charlie Ayers serves up great-tasting recipes with mass appeal. This flatbread with beets and walnuts is a great way to serve vegetables at your next meal.
For the basil citrus vinaigrette dressing:
- Handful of fresh basil leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 seedless orange segments cut in chunks
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the flatbread dough and toppings:
- 3 medium-sized beets, tops removed
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- 12 ounces frozen bread dough, thawed but cold (preferably white or whole-wheat bread)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped California walnuts
- 3 cups (about 2 ounces) arugula leaves
- To prepare the basil citrus vinaigrette, rinse the basil leaves under water. Place in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave 20 – 30 seconds, until wilted. Cool, then squeeze to remove any excess liquid. In a blender or food processor, combine the basil leaves with the oil, vinegar, shallots, mustard, orange segments and lemon zest. Blend until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small bowl or jar, and set aside while preparing the dough and toppings.
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Wrap each beet in foil, place in a shallow pan and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until tender when pierced. Unwrap the beets and let cool, then peel them. Slice the beets as thinly as you can, either on a mandolin, the slicing slot of a box grater, or with a knife. Set aside.
- For baking the flatbread, increase the oven temperature to 500º - 550ºF—the hotter the better. Sprinkle a 12-inch pizza pan with the cornmeal. Place the bread dough on a floured work surface, then press, pat and roll it into a rough circle 10 - 12 inches across. As you work, the dough will begin to fight you and spring back. When this happens, stop for a few minutes, then resume—the dough will be easier to handle after it rests. Lift the dough onto the pizza pan and pat it into a rough, roundish circle; it need not fit exactly. Prick several times with a fork, then brush with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
- Bake 10 - 12 minutes, or until the dough has puffed a little and is quite brown. Remove from the oven and spread with the beet slices. Cut the flatbread into 8-10 wedges, keeping them together in a circle. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and the walnuts.
- In a bowl, toss the arugula leaves with the citrus vinaigrette, spread over the flatbread, and serve.