When living in Paris I did most of my grocery shopping at the Marché Saxe-Bruteuil right around the corner from where I lived. The marché was one of the many "pop-up" outdoor markets that can be found on various days throughout each of the 20 arrondissements in the city. Every Thursday and Saturday I'd walk to the market carrying a pannier in which to collect my farm fresh goods while enjoying a not so distant view of the Eiffel Tower. Talk about living the dream, huh?
I would start each shopping spree with a stop at one of the market's prepared food vendors for a little nosh so as not to shop hungry and end up buying WAY more food than I needed. Nine times out of ten the vendor I would visit was a little old lady of middle-eastern descent who would serve up the most delectable man'oushe with za'atar served hot off of her gas fired "tabun". Rolled up like an ice cream cone and wrapped in paper, it was the perfect walk-around snack and always a highlight of my marketing trip.
Not having a tabun myself, I've never attempted to make man'oushe at home, though I have often thought of trying to cook one on a heated pizza stone. Have any of you ever cooked them that way?
When I found this recipe in the latest issue of Saveur I knew right away that I had to make it. Rather than baking the bread, this recipe calls for "frying" it in a skillet with a little olive oil, and the whole thing start to finish can be made in under 20 minutes. With the exception of the za'atar which you can buy here, all the ingredients are things you'll have on-hand, and the recipe is exceedingly simple to execute.
The resulting bread is SO much better than anything you'll find in a store and so easy to produce that I doubt I'll ever buy a flat bread at the market again. The slathering with oil and za'atar is mandatory, but any additional toppings are up to your discretion. Make it as simple or elaborate as you like….just make it!
I know for certain that my little middle-eastern vendor friend would approve.
Cheers – Steve
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons za'atar
- 2 tablespoons cured black olives, pitted and chopped
- 6 baby tomatoes, halved or quartered
- small mint or basil leaves for garnish
- Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Stir flour, 1 tablespoon oil, the salt, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Knead dough until elastic, 1-2 minutes; cover with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10" circle, about 1/6" thick. Stir 2 tablespoons of the oil with the za'atar in a bowl. Heat remaining oil in a 12" skillet set over medium-high heat; cook dough, flipping once, until golden and lightly puffed, 5-7 minutes.
- Slide onto a plate and spread with the za'atar mixture; top with olives, tomatoes, and mint or basil. Season to taste with Maldon salt and pepper.