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Originally published Tuesday, August 26, 2014 at 6:03 AM

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The stuff of great grilled flatbreads

The outside of a grilled flatbread may be plain. But tear off a piece, and the delights are revealed — in this case, salty pockets of feta and bits of fresh oregano leaf.


The New York Times

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A grilled flatbread is an excellent thing. But a grilled stuffed flatbread is even better.

Admittedly, it is discreet in its charms. The outside is plain, homely even. But tear off a piece, and the delights are revealed — in this case, salty pockets of feta and bits of fresh oregano leaf. They are far more interesting and substantial than regular flatbreads, but without much additional work.

Most of the labor goes into the dough. It isn’t hard, but you do have to plan ahead. The colder the dough, the more easily you can toss it on the grill without it clinging to your cutting board, your hands, your clothes, the grill grate. If you can make the dough the day before and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator, you’ll be all set. Or make it the same day and chill it briefly before rolling it out.

Once you have the dough, you have a lot of latitude in filling it. I like the combination of something rich (cheese, olives, coconut, cooked sausage or bacon, cubed avocado) with something fresh (herbs, scallions, leafy greens), anchored in an aromatic basil-garlic oil. Cooked vegetables, chopped into small pieces, also work nicely, particularly if you have small amounts of tasty leftovers in need of a home.

Just make sure not to overfill the dough; too much filling will ooze out of the seams. A couple of tablespoons per flatbread is plenty. Spread the filling onto the rolled-out dough, and fold the edges over the filling, pressing them together to seal. If you happen to be doing this outside on a sweltering day, don’t be surprised if the dough starts to melt into paste. Throw everything back into the fridge and let it cool down until it’s firm enough to handle. It’s forgiving like that.

If stuffing the flatbread dough seems like one step too many, you have my blessing to skip it and grill the dough unstuffed. Made with whole-wheat flour, it’s nutty and hearty and delicious on its own — and even more so with the basil-garlic oil for dipping.

FETA-STUFFED GRILLED FLATBREAD

8 servings

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)

3 cups whole-wheat flour

2¼ teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed

¾ cup plain yogurt

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for brushing

2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh oregano leaves

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 cups warm water and the honey. Sprinkle yeast over warm water. Stir to dissolve. Gradually stir in whole-wheat flour. Stir about one minute. Let mixture rest, uncovered, 15 minutes.

2. Sprinkle salt over mixture. Stir in yogurt and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour, then add more a little at a time, until dough is too stiff to comfortably stir. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in additional flour as needed to yield a smooth and only very slightly sticky dough.

3. Let dough rise at room temperature in a lightly oiled bowl, loosely covered with a dish towel, until doubled in bulk, about two to three hours. Alternatively, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

4. In a blender or food processor, purée basil leaves, ½ cup oil, a large pinch of salt and the garlic. Scrape mixture into a bowl.

5. Divide dough into eight equal portions. If you let your dough rise at room temperature, chill dough balls for at least 30 minutes and up to four hours. (If you refrigerated the dough overnight, you can skip this second chilling if the dough still feels cool.)

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one dough ball to a 6-inch circle (keep remaining balls on a baking sheet loosely covered with a dish towel). Brush top of circle with basil oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon oregano and 2 tablespoons feta. Fold edges of dough over the center of the filling and press together to seal, so filling is no longer visible. Use hands or a rolling pin to reroll dough to a 6-inch circle. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

7. Brush both sides of dough rounds with olive oil and grill for five to six minutes, flipping halfway through, or until each side has grill marks. The bread is ready to be flipped when it begins to puff and bubble. Sprinkle with salt while hot and serve with remaining basil oil for dipping.



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