Bacon, Butternut and Blue Cheese Flatbread
If an appetizer menu includes flatbreads, it always gets my endorsement. Or maybe it's even more than that — more often than not, flatbread will become my entree. I’m sure I'm not the only one. After all, who can resist a crispy, flavorful flatbread with myriad tasty toppings?
Like a pizza, but thinner and not (necessarily) laden with sauce or cheese, flatbreads fill the void between a simple bowl of bar nuts and the full on commitment of a meal. They’re festive, fun and don’t take themselves too seriously.
I view flatbreads as blank canvases, hungry for inspiration and not beholden to an Italian or Pomodoro theme. In fact, the best flatbreads are the ones that don’t conform, flatbreads that deviate far from traditional expectations, such as those that are made using Thai-inspired ingredients, New York deli reuben fillings or even Southern-influenced pulled pork with pickled cabbage. Throw in a bottle of wine or some cold IPAs, add a few friends and turn on some music — that’s called a party, folks. Not one that's stuffy and formal, but instead relaxed, casual and utterly delicious. And that's my kind of holiday party.
Butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and apples are the basis for this autumn-inspired version. Crisp, smoky bacon and tangy blue cheese round out the flavors and add more dimension to the dish.
If you're short on time, you can certainly make this dish using store-bought flatbread, naan, or pizza dough (rolled very thin), but, if you’re up for making your own, my easy dough recipe only requires one bowl and a 30 minute rest before rolling. If you’re making the dough from scratch, save time by prepping the toppings while the dough rests. Roast the butternut squash, cook and crumble the bacon and shave the Brussels sprouts. I recommend slicing the apples at the last minute to avoid browning.
Transferring a dough from your workspace to the oven can be tricky, even with a pizza peel to help. Here’s my simple, no-fuss method:
- Start by rolling out the dough on a piece of parchment paper.
- Sprinkle the flatbread with your toppings
- Carefully pick up the parchment paper by the ends and transfer the whole package to the preheated stone in your hot oven or to a baking sheet.
Once you've got it in the oven, this bacon, butternut and blue cheese flatbread is hot and ready in 12 minutes flat — or about the same time it takes to drink half a bottle of beer.
Bacon, Butternut and Blue Cheese Flatbread
Serves: 4 as an entree or 8 as an appetizer
Hands-on time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup lukewarm water (100 to 110 degrees)
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large apple, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
12 Brussels sprouts, shaved on a mandoline or very thinly sliced with a sharp knife
4 ounces thick cut bacon, crisped and crumbled
1/2 cup blue cheese, plus more for serving
Fresh thyme leaves
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut two large pieces of parchment paper and dust them lightly with flour. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick oil spray.
To make the dough: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and yeast. Stir in the flour mixture and the olive oil. Knead the dough into a ball and cut it in half. Shape each half into two discs. Place one disc of dough on each prepared sheet of parchment and let rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the toppings: In a medium bowl, toss the butternut squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and roast until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the center rack of the oven to heat.
When the dough has rested, lay another piece of parchment paper over one disc of dough and roll it out into a rough rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Remove the top parchment and brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
Layer on half of the toppings, beginning with the sliced apples, followed by the Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and bacon. Dot the flatbread with pieces of blue cheese. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the toppings and place the flatbread, on its parchment paper, onto the hot pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the cheese has melted, 8 to 12 minutes.
Repeat with the second disc of flatbread dough.
Scatter fresh thyme over the flatbreads and sprinkle with more cheese, as desired. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Serve warm.
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