Pizza or flatbread? To-may-to. To-mah-to? Or is it all in the tomato?
There seems to be an ongoing debate as to what constitutes a pizza and what differentiates it from a flatbread. And as I sit here, flying home from one of the pizza capitals of the world, I will admit to feeling just as confused as everyone else.
I spent the weekend in New York, immersing myself in all things culinary at the esteemed International Association of Culinary Professionals 2012 Conference. It was meant to be a weekend of investigation, learning, and networking. But the whole weekend, I was distracted by dough. I wanted to nudge the people around me and whisper, “What is the difference between a pizza and a flatbread?”
I grew up in New York, where pizzas used to be fairly simple. Well, sort of. A pizza meant dough, with yeast, topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. It was a circle, unless you wanted a rectangle slice, then you called it a Sicilian. There was the white pizza, which omitted the tomato sauce. As time passed toppings became popular, but they still remained pretty basic: mushrooms, olives, pepperoni, tomatoes.
Then somewhere along the way, people got creative. Restaurants served fancy pizzas, topping them with chicken, shrimp, jalapeños, potatoes, arugula salad…basically whatever your heart desired.
As I traveled, a whole world of pizza interpretation opened. Chicagoans boasted of deep dish and stuffed pizzas. There are California and BBQ, thin crusts and thick crusts, ovals and free form, grilled and oven baked, garlic rubbed and garlic stuffed—it seems like a whole world has grown from the humble pizzas on which I grew up.
These days, flatbreads are also en vogue, and I have embraced them, as any bread lover would. Some would argue that a pizza is a flatbread but a flatbread is not necessarily a pizza. I have decided to push all those semantics aside. If there’s baked bread with some cheesy goodness, that’s generally good enough for me. It doesn’t really matter to me what you call it.
I embrace interpretations, and I decided to pair the two cities I adore—the New York of my birth, and the bountiful California I now consider home. As I rolled out the pizza dough, I topped it with gorgonzola cheese, lightened with cottage cheese (for less guilt, of course). Marinated artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes nestled into the cheeses brought acidity and bite. And as I cut slice after slice, I happily put all my concerns away. Pizza or flatbread? It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it tastes good.
Gorgonzola, Artichoke and Sun-dried Tomato Flatbread
There was a time when pizza was synonymous with take-out. But making it at home is so much more fun, and not to mention, very easy. I always keep some pizza dough in the freezer—it makes for a simple dinner that everyone loves.
- Pizza dough (store-bought makes it quick, but of course, you can make your own)
- 1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese
- 1/4 cup cottage cheese (or if you prefer, ricotta)
- 6 oz marinated artichoke hearts
- 3-4 sun dried tomatoes, sliced in strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, grated for serving
- Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place an oven rack in the lower half of the oven.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough to your desired shape, about 1/4 inch thick.
Transfer the dough to an oiled baking sheet and press the dough with your fingertips, creating dimples and a 1 inch border around the perimeter.
Top with the gorgonzola and cottage cheeses. Nestle the artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.
Lightly brush the crust bordering the flatbread with olive oil.
Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it sit for about 1-2 minutes before slicing. Serve it with a salad for lovely and simple dinner.
NOTES: Be sure to let your pizza dough come to room temperature before rolling. It will make it easier to roll and less elastic.