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Seasons’ Eatings: Grilled Heirloom Tomato and Basil Flatbread

2012 August 23

By Marc J. Duquette

Heirloom tomatoes fresh from the garden

Pelham, NH – You’re invited! It’s a beautiful, clear August afternoon and we are headed outside to the grill. Imagine a group of friends gathered around the patio, sharing a bottle of wine around a perfectly set table, centered with vase full of colorful, fresh-picked flowers. The whole scene is surrounded by an incredible garden landscape. I swear I’ve come across this photo spread a thousand times in cooking and gardening magazines! Well, this is the perfect recipe if you find yourself longing to create such a place and time. It’s actually a very simple dish but the technique and freshness of the dish will blow you away. We are going to create a Grilled Heirloom Tomato and Basil Flatbread.

A key feature of Recipe Relay is the hand-off from one recipe to the next–an ingredient, method, or preparation. Therefore, from Sarah’s rustic Carrot Pizza, I’ll make use of the basil and I will relay her “pizza” idea in a somewhat different application by using a comparable dough to make flatbread on the grill. When I first started thinking about a recipe using basil, I came across the classic, and very common Italian Bruschetta–sliced Italian bread, toasted in the oven and topped with a tomato-basil mixture, usually served as an appetizer. I love making flatbread on the grill so it didn’t take me long to bring the two recipes together. Besides, what can be better than grilling outside this time of year?

CLICK HERE for the full post and recipe.

The simple, classic bruschetta topping interested me as I have nearly everything I need from my organic garden–5 varieties of fresh and abundant basil, garlic, picked, cured and stored in the basement ready for use, and a colorful mixture of heirloom tomatoes at peak production. Staying close to home, I utilized homemade apple vinegar in place of the traditional balsamic vinegar. With autumn apples just around the corner, it’ll be time to brew up a new batch. If you’re interested, leave a comment on this page and I’ll reply with the recipe.

In my last post, a pasta dish, I took the time to knead out the pasta dough by hand. But hey, it’s summertime and I’d rather be out in the sunshine! So in this case, the Kitchen Aid outfitted with the dough hook attachment made dough prep a quick and easy process. This recipe can be served as an appetizer for 4 or a light summer meal for 2 and the resulting product is warm, crispy and fresh. Try this recipe! If you master the grilled flatbread, I am certain you will find other ways to use it. How about for making Carrot Pizza, for example?

Grilled Heirloom Tomato and Basil Flatbread

Making the Dough

Total Time: 15 Minutes + 3 hours Rising Time
Yield: Makes enough for 4 10″ flatbreads.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water (105-115F)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 3 1/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Combine water, sugar and yeast. Proof until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Combine flour and salt in mixer outfitted with a dough hook.
  3. Add oil to proofed yeast mixture and add to mixer bowl.
  4. Knead on low speed for 10 minutes. You can knead the dough by hand if you prefer–knead for the same amount of time.
  5. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning dough to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or damp towel, place in a warm location, and allow to rise for 2 hours or until doubled.
  6. Punch dough down and divide into 4, forming into neat balls. Allow to rise, covered, for another hour.
  7. At this point the dough is ready for grilling. The recipe that follows uses 2 of these dough balls. You can freeze the other two for later use or double the recipe to make 4 flatbreads. If you are not prepared to grill immediately, you can wrap the dough and refrigerate for a day or so. Just let the dough come to room temperature before stretching and grilling.

Making the Flatbread

Total Time: 15 Minutes Prep + 10 minutes grilling
Yield: Serving for 4 as an appetizer, serving for 2 as a light summer dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups seeded, chopped heirloom tomatoes
  • 3 cloves minced garlic (set one clove aside)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus some for grilling)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, stems removed, lightly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 Balls prepared flatbread dough

Preparation

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside to marinate at least 10 minutes. You can prepare this earlier in the day and refrigerate until ready, just make sure to pull it out in advance and allow it to come to room temperature before heading out to the grill.
  2. Take the remaining clove of garlic and mix it into 2 tablespoons of olive oil and set aside.
  3. Next. stretch out the dough by hand or with a rolling pin to about a 10 inch diameter (My dough always ends up in odd distorted shapes but so what, that’s part of the fun).
  4. Heat the grill to med-high (350-400F), oil the grate, and place the flatbread dough on the grill. Close cover and grill for two to three minutes. The crust will bubble and will develop grill marks on the underside. Grill temperatures vary so check the dough periodically on your first few attempts to prevent burning. Note: If you do not have access to a grill, this recipe can be made in the oven on a pizza stone.
  5. Using a pair of tongs, flip the dough over, reduce the heat to med or medium-low (300-350F), brush with olive oil and garlic mixture, and lightly top with parmesan cheese (adjust to your liking but do not let it overpower the dish). Close grill cover and allow to finish grilling for another two to three minutes. If cooked correctly the dough will be golden brown, contain nice grill marks, be crispy in some areas, and have a nice chew around the edges.
  6. With the grill open, top the flatbread with the tomato mixture using a slotted spoon to leave the juice behind. Remove flatbread from the grill, garnish with a sprig of basil, slice, serve and enjoy. Although I prefer adding the tomato mixture at the end for that fresh summer taste, you can add the mixture in step 4 and allow it to warm as the flatbread continues to grill. Your choice.

So there it is. Grab a bottle of your favorite white wine, head outside, make this dish, and share it with friends.

Grilled Heirloom Tomato and Basil FlatbreadMarc J. Duquette is an organic gardener in Pelham, New Hampshire and he occasionally blogs about this at www.MarcsGarden.com.