In Turkey, Armenia and the Levant, a meat-topped flatbread known as lahmajoun comes topped with spiced ground lamb, tomatoes and bell pepper. With the dough stretched paper-thin, diners typically drizzle the popular dish with lemon juice and roll it up to eat.
We were in Istanbul when we came across this tasty, social dish, which fills a similar place in the culture as pizza in many other places, with equally exacting standards for what makes a good lahmajoun. The toppings are chopped coarsely for a rustic texture, the dough is expertly stretched by hand, and the flatbread cooks in minutes in a roaring-hot oven.
Though delicious, authentic lahmajoun is out of reach for kids trying to do something nice for Father’s Day. That’s why we created this recipe for our book “Cook What You Have,” which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals. Kids can help out, though the recipe does involve a food processor and a very hot oven.
We swap the usual homemade flatbread dough for store-bought pita breads. Simply combine the meat mixture in a food processor and spread onto the pita, then bake it in a hot oven. Either ground lamb or beef will taste great with a mixture of paprika, cumin and red pepper flakes.
Served with lemon wedges on the side, it evokes the real thing while finishing in about half an hour.
When processing the meat mixture, don’t overdo it or the meat may become tough. Pulse a few times, just until combined. If you like, finish the dish with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and a drizzle of cooling yogurt to complement the spiced meat.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Makes four 8-inch flatbreads
Four 8-inch pita breads
1 small red OR yellow onion, roughly chopped
¼ cup roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
8 ounces ground beef OR ground lamb
Heat the oven to 500°F with racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions. Arrange the pita breads on 2 rimmed baking sheets; set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the onion until finely chopped, about 5 pulses. Add the roasted peppers, tomato paste, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Process until smooth, about 10 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the beef and pulse just until incorporated, 3 or 4 pulses.
Divide the beef mixture evenly among the pitas (about a scant 1/2 cup each) and spread over the rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Bake until the pitas are golden brown on the edges and the meat is sizzling, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges.
Optional garnish: Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley OR whole-milk yogurt OR lemon wedges OR fresh mint a combination OR a combination
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more recipes, go to Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street at 177milkstreet.com/ap
Christopher Kimball, The Associated Press