This week’s winner of the vote for a recipe was Gordon Ramsay’s flatbread with fennel and feta from his eponymous Home Cooking. I’ll be honest, I was a little concerned about how much I would like raw crunchy fennel on my Middle Eastern-style pizza, but these were delicious.
Gordon’s recipe is short and sweet, although I moved the workflow around a little because I think it makes more sense the way I’ve ordered the instructions. Flatbread with fennel and feta are easy to throw together at a moment’s notice, assuming you regularly have prepared flatbreads, fennel, feta, and pomegranate molasses in your kitchen. If you don’t, these will require a little trip to the grocery store. Any flatbread will work, including pita breads, pizza shells, your favorite flatbread recipe, or my current favorite from Rick Stein (what I did). For the feta, I recommend splurging for the quality feta, not the stuff they sell pre-crumbled. With only five major ingredients, the taste of each component makes a huge difference to the final flavor. You can make your own pomegranate molasses by reducing the (100% fruit, no sugar added) juice, which is likely the cheapest option I think. Otherwise, find it locally, online, or in a pinch just use the seeds.
The critical factor to success is making sure you really thinly shave the fennel. A knife is unlikely to do it for you, unless your knife skills far exceed mine (totally possible). I used Kuhn Rikon’s Y-shaped peeler, but a mandoline or food processor with the thinnest blade attachment would work too.
I ate my first attempt at flatbread with fennel and feta for breakfast and thought it was very refreshing and well-balanced between the creaminess of the feta, crunchy anise flavors, and the sweet-sour tang of the pomegranate. I could also see serving these as a dinner starter or main course. Depending on the crowd and appetites, one recipe will feed 2-4 people. Gordon says the recipe serves 2, but the topping amounts are quite generous and I couldn’t finish a whole flatbread in one sitting. Be aware that these are best immediately after making them. They don’t keep very well once assembled because the fennel loses its crunch and the crust gets soggy from the feta and molasses.
Flatbread with Fennel and Feta
An inspired salty-sweet-crunchy and slightly anise-y approach to topping a thin dough base, Gordon's Middle Eastern-style "pizza" will make your tastebuds sing. Total time assumes you have the flatbreads (or dough) ready to cook and that you make one at a time. If you have two 12-inch pans, by all means make both flatbreads in tandem.
- 2 Middle Eastern Flatbreads *
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- pinch Kosher or sea salt
- 3-5 grinds black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 small bulb fennel washed and trimmed
- 4 ounces feta crumbled
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses **
Preheat the oven to 200 F and then turn it off. You will use it to keep the first flatbread warm while you make the second, unless you have two 12-inch skillets and want cook the flatbreads simultaneously.
Using a Y-shaped vegetable peeler, mandoline, or sharp knife, shave the fennel bulb into very thin slices.
Heat a 12-inch frying pan over medium heat. Toast the fennel seeds for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Drizzle half the olive oil into the frying pan. Working with one flatbread at a time, toast the flatbreads about 2 minutes on one side. If working with flatbread dough, divide it to produce two rounds rolled out thin with diameters of 10-12 inches. Add to the pan and cook about 4-5 minutes on the first side. The surface will begin to bubble when it's ready.
Once golden brown and warmed on the bottom, flip the first flatbread over and begin scattering half of the shaved fennel over the surface of the round. Sprinkle half of the crumbled feta and toasted fennel seeds on top of the shaved fennel. Drizzle half of the pomegranate molasses over the flatbread.
Remove the flatbread after the bottom is golden brown and warmed through, about 2 minutes for pre-made bread and 5 minutes for flatbread dough.
Place the first flatbread in the oven to keep warm while you repeat with the other flatbread. Serve.
*see Gozleme recipe for suggested flatbread recipe (this will make 133% the amount of dough you need for this recipe, but you'll appreciate having it for later), use pizza dough, your favorite thin-crust dough recipe, or a purchased flatbread.
**Buy pomegranate molasses in specialty food stores like Whole Foods, Asian or Middle Eastern grocery markets, or make your own by reducing pomegranate juice (available at Trader Joe's) to one-quarter the starting volume.