When Pizza Goes Middle Eastern
Photos by Molly Yeh
I am the child of two very strong pizza traditions. A pizza mutt, if you will. Growing up outside of Chicago, pizza night meant ordering delivery of my beloved deep dish. When I lived in New York, pizza night meant a greasy folded slice at the little old place where the nice owner knew me by name or a Neapolitan pie at any one of New York’s countless exceptional pizzerias. Needless to say, my pizza upbringing spoiled me completely.
Pizza night in my new tiny town is… a sensitive subject.
I have tried to embrace the town pizza parlor, and I’ve even tried to get into the Domino’s culture (if that’s even a thing?), but neither of them cut it for my admittedly snobby pizza tastes and I’ve basically come to terms with the fact that until a friend in Brooklyn sends me a frozen Roberta’s pie, or until I build a pizza oven on the farmstead, my pizza nights will have to take on an entirely new identity.
Which is fine.
I don’t get jealous when all of my New York friends Instagram their amazing chewy doughy pizzas. (Yes I do.)
My homemade pizza adventures have yielded a few different types of pies. The one that I find myself making over and over has a chickpea crust. It’s delicious, healthy, and it doesn’t require any rising time, so I can whip up a pizza in about 10 minutes. I love sprinkling the crust with za’atar or putting a sunny side up egg on top. The nutty chickpea flavor blends well with just about every type of pizza topping. I’ve recently began an obsession with harissa, the flavorful North African chili paste that’s infused with some of my favorite spices that are common in Middle Eastern cooking, cumin and coriander. This pie is topped with that, along with some caramelized onions and greens. It is a wonderful combination of sweet and hot. Happy pizza night!
Chickpea Pizza with Harissa and Spinach
Makes two personal pizzas
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
a few cracks of black pepper
1 cup water
olive oil, to coat the pan
About 2 tablespoons harissa* (this amount may vary depending on your taste and how hot your harissa is)
1/2 large onion, chopped and caramelized
1 cup packed fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
*For homemade harissa, I recommend “Jerusalem’s recipe. I like using Fresno chiles so that it’s not too hot, which means I can pile it on my pizza.
1) Preheat oven to high broil.
2) In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and then whisk in the water. Whisk until you have a smooth batter.
3) Heat a large oven safe skillet on the stove over medium heat and coat the bottom with oil. Pour in half of the batter and tilt the pan to distribute it evenly. It will be about 8-10 inches. Cook for a few minutes, until the bottom is browned and comes away easily from the pan, and then flip to do the same on the other side.
4) Remove the crust from the heat. Spread on the harissa and top with half of the onion, spinach, and mozzarella. Place in the oven for about 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
5) Repeat with the other half of the batter and toppings. Leftovers are great the next morning cold!