When it’s time to start holiday entertaining menu planning for family, friends, or simply myself, I often turn to the market or grocery store, see what’s in season, and work around that. Or I’ll furiously page through my ever-growing cookbook collection, or go about scouring the web for recipe ideas, compiling food-to-cook wish lists longer than there are days in the year. But the idea for this South African/Middle Eastern flatbread (or pizza) came from neither market nor cookbook nor Pinterest board nor blog nor cooking website, instead being inspired by a recent novel I read.
I bought Comfort & Joy by India Knight two years ago, and it had been sitting on my bookshelf, getting dusty ever since. I cracked it open on a whim one evening and began reading. And reading. And laughing. And reading and laughing some more. It was so cozy, all about the holidays, family, relationship woes, and food. Food in non-cookbook fiction always does it for me. It was a lot like one of my favourite holiday-ish books––actually, one of favourite books, period––Bridget Jones’s Diary, a novel and movie I find entirely relatable and absorbing as a woman in her very late 20s.
Back to Comfort & Joy. Not a spoiler: The fictional family ended up having Christmas in Morocco and there was plenty to talk about on the food front. Sights, scents, and tastes of traditional North African dishes leapt off of the later pages, inspiring me to bring a similar range of flavours to my North American holiday table. Taking this inspiration, I created a flatbread recipe suitable for a light, festive lunch (what I did, with a friend) or handheld appetizer, rounded out with mint tea to drink and a finale of fresh date rolls.
Dates are a sticky, sweet fruit originating from the same region (Middle East and North Africa) where these flatbread flavours are a nod to. I often add Natural Delights Fresh Medjool Dates to smoothies and grain dishes as a sugar substitute, contributing a caramel-like taste the works, too. Or, I’ll throw a few juicy dates in a zip-top bag with raw almonds as an on-the-go-snack (I require snacks for holiday shopping “survival”). I served Natural Delights Coconut Date Rolls as part of this pre-holiday lunch with a friend before our schedules become impossible over the hectic holiday season. It was an ideal cap to our spice route snacks (I love a picky, stand at the counter and eat lunch at home––so much more relaxed than a sit-down meal), adding the perfect hit of sweetness on the table without being heavy. And the Moroccan mint tea we sipped was “just the thing,” as my girlfriend and I like to say (I found a fantastic recipe here). It was a nice little food vacation for the two of us.
And isn’t it wonderful when your friends accept that you hop onto tables to capture your lunch for a blog post?
The roasted cauliflower and onions adorning the flatbread dough would make a delicious side dish on their own. They’re enhanced with a few trademark Moroccan tastes––cumin, cinnamon, and chili––acting as the flavour-packed base.
Other exciting fall/winter ingredients on this flatbread included pomegranates (I find pomegranates, in particular, immensely exciting, at least), lemon, and a zippy tahini yogurt sauce, all similar or the same as much of the Moroccan holiday food in Comfort & Joy. Yes, I’ve just given you a book club goal.
Even if you’re enjoying the holiday season in a cold, blustery region of the world, you can still eat like they do in books. Food, no matter where it’s eaten, can easily and cheaply transport you to another part of the world––a feature I adore about cooking, cookbooks, and novels.
Wishing you all a sweet beginning to the holiday season.
The ingredients listed below are per person; multiply to serve more.
- Per 1 Flatbread (per person)
- ¼ cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-sized flat florets
- 1 onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ recipe Spelt Pizza Dough (my go-to dough recipe is in this past post) OR 1 pre-made flatbread of choice
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- ¼ cup whole milk Balkan-style plain yogurt (not Greek)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper, to taste
- pomegranate arils
- lemon zest
- Make the Roasted Cauliflower & Onions: Preheat oven to 400ºF. On a large-rimmed baking sheet, toss together cauliflower, onion, oil, cumin, cinnamon, chili, and salt. Roast for 25 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and caramelized. Set aside.
- Make the Flatbread: Increase oven temperature to 425ºF. Prepare and roll dough very thinly according to recipe instructions; place on a clean, parchment-lined large-rimmed baking sheet. Or place pre-made flatbread on a parchment-lined large-rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle dough with olive oil and load on prepared roasted cauliflower and onions. Bake for 12–15 minutes, until flatbread dough is crisp.
- Make the Tahini Yogurt Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To Serve: Transfer flatbread to a large cutting board and cut into quarters with a sharp knife or pizza wheel. Top with dressing, pomegranate, and lemon zest. Serve warm or room temperature.