I was racking my brain last week for recipes that involved an unfamiliar (to me) food item. Leeks kept throwing themselves at my thought life. Not that they’re some sort of crop that grows on the moon or in a remote village or that they’re so incredibly rare and sought after that they’re five-hundred dollars an ounce. No, no, they’re simpler than that, almost mysterious, but very beautiful. You see ’em in the store all the time. Tiny white stalky-like part on the bottom with mile-high leaves that look absolutely inedible. So simple, yet so intimidating to me because I had no idea what to do with them. But this week it was time to take a chance. Alright, exquisite-looking version of an onion, you’re coming home with me.
Once I had the bunch of leeks, I felt empowered. I had gotten over my leek hump and, actually, they’re not intimidating at all. They’re bright, fun to cut, and right now (yes, you guessed it) they are in season in the good ol’ Carolinas. Check, check, and check. Oh, and in this dish, they’re paired with bacon. Double check.
This flatbread is not really a pizza. It has no cheese, no sauce. It’s more like a crunchy, flavored slice of bread. You could eat it alone or alongside soup or a salad.
whole wheat flatbread with caramelized leeks and bacon
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon active yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 strips minimally processed bacon
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch leeks, white and pale green part only, thinly sliced, and well-rinsed
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
To make the dough for the flatbread, start by dissolving the yeast in a bowl with the warm water. Let stand for 2 minutes. Put the flour on a smooth work surface and make a well in the center. Slowly add the yeast water, olive oil, and salt until the flour absorbs the liquid. Knead until the mixture becomes a dough consistency. You may need to add quite a bit of flour to keep everything from sticking. Divide the dough in half and place each half in a separate, floured bowl. Cover with a warm, damp cloth and let rise at room temperature for at least an hour. The dough should double in size. You will only use one half of the dough in this recipe. I froze the second dough, but you could cut the dough ingredients in half if you’d like.
While the dough is rising, make the topping. In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and chop into small pieces when cool enough to handle. Set aside. Add the butter to the grease and allow it to melt. Add the sliced leeks, salt, and brown sugar and stir to combine. Over medium-low heat, let the leeks cook, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent, brown, and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 400º. To assemble the flatbread, remove one of the doughs from the bowl and punch it down on a floured work surface. Pull and flatten the dough until it’s very thin, but is without any holes. Evenly sprinkle the leeks and reserved chopped bacon over the dough. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. On a baking sheet, bake the flatbread for 15 minutes or until the dough is crispy.
“So, what’s up with whole wheat flour?”
Well, it’s basically what it sounds like. Whole wheat flour is made with the whole grain (ding! health food buzzword) and during the process of actually making the flour, the outer coating called the bran (ding!) and the germ (ding! Dang, another health food buzzword. We must be on to something here) is left, unlike refined, bleached flour. The bran has lots of fiber and the germ, which is basically the grain kernel’s embryo, has lots of nutrients. And whole grains lead to more consistent energy levels in your body, better digestion, and can perhaps help you feel fuller longer.
Lesson over, go eat some flatbread!