Middle Eastern pizzas

Middle Eastern pizzas

By
From
New Feast
Makes
4-6
Photographer
Alan Benson

You will find versions of these Middle Eastern-style pizzas all around the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean where they’re mainly eaten for breakfast or as a morning snack. We have included several of our favourite ‘topping’ recipes here, including za’atar, which is a more-ish combination of wild thyme, tangy sumac and sesame seeds. Manoushi – pizza breads smeared with oil and za’atar – are one of the most popular breakfasts in Lebanon and Greg craves them if he doesn’t have them at least once a week!

This is one of the best pizza dough recipes we’ve found, and you can successfully freeze it for up to 4 weeks, which means it’s worth making in fairly large amounts. You get the best results with home-made pizzas if you bake them on a pizza stone or even an unglazed roof tile. Preheat your oven and stone as high as you dare.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
600g strong flour, plus extra for dusting
10g salt
3 teaspoons dried active yeast
30g caster sugar
250ml warm water
30ml olive oil, plus extra to grease the bowl
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method

  1. Sift the flour into the bowl of a stand-mixer. Add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the opposite side (salt can kill the yeast).
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and then add it to the bowl, along with the oil and beaten eggs. Mix briefly to form a ball.
  3. Knead with the dough hook on slow speed for 7 minutes, then increase the speed to medium and knead for a further 7 minutes. Once the gluten has developed and the dough is smooth and satiny, shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a large lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for an hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to its highest temperature and preheat a pizza stone, unglazed tile or your heaviest baking sheet.
  5. Punch down the dough and knead again for a few minutes. Divide into 4 or 6 equal balls. Keeping the rest of the dough covered, roll out one ball of dough thinly onto a floured work surface, to a 30 cm round. Brush the surface lightly with olive oil, or spread with a flavoured butter. Add your favourite topping, remembering not to overload it. Bake for 4–6 minutes, until the pizza is risen and lightly browned. Serve piping hot.

Toppings

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

See method for ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

Method

  1. For the classic manoushi, combine za’atar with sumac in a 3-to-1 ratio and mix to a thick, spreadable paste with olive oil. Smear evenly over the pizza bases and bake.
  2. Slow-roasted tomatoes are lovely with fresh oregano and creamy labneh, and perhaps black or green olives.
  3. Scatter on good-quality preserved artichokes, break open a burrata, dot it over the surface and finish with finely chopped preserved lemon.
  4. Wilt chopped spinach and saute it with garlic and shallot in a little butter. Mix in finely grated lemon zest and ½ teaspoon dried mint then spread over the pizza dough. Dot the surface with blobs of labneh, crack on an egg and bake until just set.
  5. For a three-cheese special, mix 180 g home-made shankleesh with 180 g coarsely grated mozzarella, 100 g coarsely grated parmesan, 1 teaspoon Turkish chilli flakes and 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Smear it on thinly and bake.
  6. Spread the pizza bases with labneh and top with thin slices of leftover boiled potatoes. Scatter on fresh za’atar or thyme leaves, finely diced preserved lemon and more blobs of labneh or goat’s cheese.
  7. Mix-and-match thinly sliced vegetables (zucchini, mushroom, peppers, onion) and scatter on pieces of feta, mozzarella, labneh or shankleesh.
  8. Rainbow chard, currants and pine nuts make a great combination. Top with mozzarella and a sprinkling of Turkish red chilli flakes.
  9. Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, try one of the sweet butters as a flavour base and top with figs or slices of your favourite summer stone fruits and sprinkle with brown sugar. Towards the end of the baking time, dollop with labneh and bake for another minute until it starts to melt.
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