Spinach Pesto Flatbread

Spring is starting to transition into summer here in Minnesota: the days are getting warmer (even the rainy ones), the humidity is increasing, and the garden is starting to produce a few meals!

These early harvests are always some of the best.  There's something so good about the first fresh-from-the-garden salad, or the first bite of a homegrown radish - it just doesn't compare to any other bite of the season.  Maybe it's that we've been waiting with so much anticipation for straight-from-the-garden eating, or maybe it's the satisfaction of the hard work that has gotten us to this point--maybe a little of both.
Equally good, is the first time you have enough of a harvest to do a little more than make a simply make a quick little salad or taste a few bites.  The only problem is, when it gets this nice out, it's hard to spend precious time in the kitchen, which is why this flatbread is pretty awesome.  It's fast, it's easy, and as it turns out, it's the perfect vehicle for just about anything that is starting to come out of the garden right now: spinach, shallot or onion greens, asparagus, spring garlic or garlic scapes, fresh herbs... the variations are endless.

This time around, I made pesto using spinach leaves instead of basil.  The spinach gave it a really bright, spring green color and resulted in a slightly milder flavor than a classic basil pesto. I spread the pesto over the crispy flatbread and topped it with a little cheese, some more spinach that had been cut into ribbons, and a handful of the leftover toasted pine nuts from the pesto. Quick, easy, fresh from the garden, and there's still plenty of time to get outside and enjoy the evening!
Spinach Pesto Flatbread

For the Flatbread: 
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup water

For the Spinach Pesto: 
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Additional spinach, cheese, and toasted pine nuts for topping
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Prepare the spinach pesto by adding toasted pine nuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse several times until ingredients are finely chopped.  Add spinach leaves and pulse again to break down spinach to about half the original volume.  With food processor running, slowly add olive oil and continue to process until desired consistency is reached.  Add parmesan cheese and pulse just until cheese is completely incorporated.  Set pesto aside. 

Combine all ingredients for flatbread in a food processor and run until ball of dough forms; scrape down sides, if necessary, and run a couple of minutes until the ball of dough is smooth (or kneed by hand for about 5 minutes).  Use a rolling pin to roll out dough to desired thinness (dough will not rise during baking).  Transfer to a large baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 5 minutes, or until flatbread starts to brown.. 

Remove the flatbread from the oven and spread a thin layer of pesto over the surface (you will likely have some leftover).  Top with a thin layer of the cheese of your choice, additional spinach leaves (whole or cut into ribbons), toasted pine nuts, and season with fresh ground pepper.  Return flatbread to oven for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden.  

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