Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza): It’s What’s For Dinner

During my trip to Turkey I lost 10 pounds.

Not because I wanted to, but because their portions were so much smaller than our American portions. Plus they eat fresh food.  The fish is caught that morning and purchased from the fisherman.  The vegetables are pulled up from the garden, mildly rinsed, and promptly cooked.  There are no supermarkets filled with shelves of processed foods, and there are not four different brands of the same yogurt to choose from.  Oh, and they love to dance.

Here is my favorite Turkish recipe.

Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza)
Prep: 1.5 hours        Cook time: 10 minutes

Lamb Topping Ingredients:
1 lb. ground lean lamb
2 tsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
4 roma tomatoes
6 tbsp. double concentrated tomato paste
3 lemons (some for garnish)
1 bundle fresh Italian parsley (some for garnish)
3 tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
*optional goat cheese crumbles

Directions for Lamb Topping:

Heat skillet over medium heat with a dab of olive oil.  Brown the lamb until mostly cooked.  Place 1/2 cup of parsley and all the other ingredients into a large food processor, slowly pouring in the olive oil until mixture is a thick puree.  Add puree to skillet and mix with lamb until heated.  Remove lamb mixture from heat and let come to room temperature.  Place in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (while you wait for the bread dough to rise).

Whole Wheat Flat Bread Ingredients:

5 c. whole wheat organic flour
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water (115 degrees F)
1/2 c. room temperature water

Directions for Whole Wheat Flat Bread:

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour (sifted) and salt and mix.  In a separate bowl, combine yeast and sugar with the warm water. When the yeast has dissolved, add the oil and room temperature water. Pour the mixture over the flour and hand mix. If the bread is too dry, add a little more water and 1 tsp. vegetable oil until it sticks together.  Knead the dough ball on a lightly floured surface for several minutes.  Shape into a ball and place back into the mixing bowl (spread oil over sides and bottom of bowl first).  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave on your counter to let rise for one hour.

Once the dough has risen for 1 hour, punch it down and transfer back to floured surface.  Cut the dough into 6 pieces, shaping each into fist-size balls.  Use a rolling pin to flatten each ball (very thin) and transfer to the baking sheet.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees and roll out the remaining dough balls.  Remove lamb mixture from refrigerator.  Spread lamb mixture onto flat bread to the edges, sprinkle with goat cheese (optional) and bake on an ungreased baking sheet for about 10 minutes, or until bread is crispy and browned. Serve topped with a sprig of parsley and a drizzle of lemon.

**In Turkey, you roll the pizza up like a burrito and eat it.  If you want to do this, make sure your flat bread is VERY FLAT.  And your pizza has cooled slightly.

afiyet olsun!  (bon appetit in Turkish)

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