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.
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.
Moroccan Cauliflower Flatbread with Tahini-Yogurt Dressing Recipe
A Moroccan and Middle Eastern-inspired flatbread pizza with cauliflower, pomegranate, and a zippy tahini yogurt sauce. Works as an appetizer, snack, or main course. The ingredients listed below are per person; multiply to serve more.
Serves 1; double, triple, or quadruple quantities as needed
Per 1 flatbread
Roasted Cauliflower & Onions
1/4 cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-sized flat florets
1 onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 recipe Spelt Pizza Dough (recipe here) OR 1 pre-made flatbread of choice
extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper, to taste
- 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.
- Flatbread: Increase oven temperature to 425ºF. Prepare and roll dough very thinly [url:2]according to recipe instructions[/url]; 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.
- 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.
Make-Ahead: All of the components can be made ahead. Roll dough (if making, or just use pre-made flatbread as suggested), add roasted vegetables, and bake immediately before serving.