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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mediterranean flatbread and "Italian Toast", both with pesto aioli

Hello all! A bit of a schedule reshuffle for me: I decided Chef Alishah’s (the Bosnian place) merited a second visit, and I haven’t been able to go get the ingredients for my attempt to improve on the Time Market’s green gringo sandwich, so those have been pushed back to the end of the week. The good news (at least I hope its good news), though, is a big block of posts from me—I’m gonna try for four over the course of the next week; coming attractions will include a Mexican food review of La Botana and El Guero Canelo, the Kale Pesto recipe I mentioned in the comments, and at least one of the features mentioned above. Today though, it’s recipe time, and I’m inaugurating a new feature I’d like to call Off The Top Of My Head—dedicated to cataloging those things you whip up on the spot and wind up being pretty good. Today, that recipe will be for Mediterranean flatbread with a light pesto aioli—PLUS, as a special bonus, a tasty breakfast dish that you can top with said same aioli.
So, anyhow—partial credit has to go to my mother on this one.
She’d been making pizza-like things with pesto and veggies on Trader Joe’s excellent garlic naan (it comes frozen), and this was simply my way of improving on the idea. Central to the idea is the sauce, a lighter take on aioli that replaces all the mayo with Greek yogurt. It’s different—thinner and much tangier than regular aioli—but I think quite good. I’ll put the recipe here, then come back below with some thoughts on recipe #2.

Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza with Light Pesto Aioli
Serves 2
[My standard warning: All measurements approximate. Adjust to your own taste]
2 flatbreads of your choice (naan, pita—heck, roll it up in a tortilla if you like)
3 scallions, chopped (discard the top third of the shoot)
1 medium white or yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 small cloves marinated garlic, whole.
1 oz. sun dried tomato
1 0z. artichoke hearts
1 medium sized tomato, chopped into large chunks
2 medium sausages—veg., chicken, turkey, or lean pork; preferably with spices—sliced thin
Splash Balsamic vinegar
Juice of ½ lemon
1/8th to 1/4th cup red wine
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
for Aioli:
3 tbsp Greek yogurt
4 tsp pesto
6 cloves marinated garlic
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped very fine
¼ cup parsley.
Juice of ½ lemon
~1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
~½ tsp balsamic vinegar
~1/8 cup minced jalapeno (opt)
Liberal quantities oregano, dry or fresh basil, and garlic salt.
Salt and pepper to taste

Add olive oil to a pan and heat medium high. Add scallions, onion, bell pepper, sun-dried tomato and artichoke hearts, 4 cloves marinated garlic, sliced sausages, and red pepper flakes, and sauté until sausages are crisped.
Begin heating flatbreads in toaster oven or on griddle
Make aioli: add yogurt, pesto, 6 cloves marinated garlic, fresh garlic, jalapeno, and lemon juice to blender and blend until smooth. Taste, add oregano, dry or fresh basil, garlic salt, and salt and pepper, and blend again.
When sauté mix is ready, turn heat to high, add lemon juice, vinegar, and wine to deglaze, cook quickly and then turn off heat.
Top warm flatbread with sauté mix and chopped tomato, and drizzle on aioli.

BONUS Recipe:
So, I was a weird little kid. I mean this in all kinds of ways, but for the purposes of this blog, one of the weirdest was that I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth—much less of one than now. I had a pretty eclectic palate for someone that age, but I just didn’t have that “dessert all the time zeal” that most kids do. This was particularly true when it came to breakfast—give me biscuits and eggs with lox and onions instead of pancakes and syrup any day. This posed something of a problem for my mother, who wanted easy breakfast stuff that I would like. From this sprang the genius idea of Italian Toast—a savory riff on French toast that I still find wildly preferable to the original. My own take on it is below.

Italian Toast with Light Pesto Aioli
Serves 2
[You know the drill]
4 medium thickness slices of crusty Italian or French bread (though any white bread will do)
2 eggs
½ cup pasta sauce
Liberal quantities dried basil, oregano, garlic salt
2 cloves fresh garlic, very finely chopped, or ½ tsp pureed garlic
2 cloves marinated garlic, coarsely chopped (opt.)
2 tbsp parmesan or romano cheese
~1 tbsp water
Aioli (see above)

Mix eggs, sauce, water, 1 tbsp cheese, garlic, and seasoning into a slurry in a wide, shallow pan or dish. Add the slices of bread, move around to absorb, then turn over and repeat until bread is well soaked.
Add olive oil and small pat butter or margarine to large frying pan, and heat to high. Add slices and sear quickly, 1-2 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, turning occasionally. Sprinkle remaining cheese on both sides when bread is still slightly damp. When bread no longer looks runny and is crisp and somewhat blackened on both sides it is done. Place on plate and top each slice with a generous spoonful of aioli.


  1. Yummy! What do you marinate the marinated garlic in?
    I think you may get a little flack from aioli purists who think it must contain egg yolks and olive oil (see but I'm all for reinterpreting the classics. This sounds zippy!
    I love, love, love Italian Toast!

  2. Oh, I just get it from sunflower market--it's marinated in oil and various spices--basically the same stuff you get from the olive bar at most places.

    Yeah, it isn't traditional--but zippy is right! Plus, it is healthier, and real Aioli would, I think, actually be too oily for something like this.

    Italian toast really is wonderful--my mom deserves a medal for that idea. You had it one of your trips here?

  3. Oh, and I fixed the typos. For some reason I can't seem to see them till it's up.

  4. Super extra bonus recipie: mix the leftover aioli with eggs, add seasoning salt, and scramble. I had this for breakfast this morning and it was SO GOOD.


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