I do try to ring the changes with the recipes that I schedule in for the week - and blog - but some are just too good to wait.
I'm not sure where I got the idea for this dish from, to be honest. I think I can remember seeing something on t.v. where hummus was used as a base within a pitta bread which then had other bits heaped on top, but for the life of me I can't remember which programme. Like a lot of life, these days, it is just a blur. I'm lucky if I can remember my own name, some days!
Flatbreads have been popular on the t.v. just recently, having been featured in Celebrity MasterChef at least twice - and it's there that I got the idea to use flatbreads instead of pitta bread. Before I committed myself to the flatbread idea (and, I hasten to add, I had no intention of making them - not this time, anyway - so apologies if you've come here looking for a flatbread recipe) I checked via the online shopper interface whether my local Asda sold them - and it turned out that it does!
Now I like pitta bread, but I do find them to be hard work some days. Very often, even after heating, they refuse to open properly and you wind up with your filling more "on" them than "in" them. Plus, they seem to go very leathery and/or hard when they cool down, which is okay if you're wanting to exercise your jaw muscles - but I can do that by talking. ~innocent look~
Flatbreads, however, have no pocket. It's a simple matter of filling and folding them in half - much the same as a sandwich. They are also delightfully light and fluffy - and we've discovered that Asda do three "flavours". For this lamb dish, I used the tomato & onion version, but they also do a plain version and our favourite (which we didn't discover until after this dish, or I'd have used them here) a "coronation" (aka curried) version.
Apart from the North African flavours (which are just fabulous), the very best thing about this dish is the simplicity with which it comes together. There really is just the one cooking process to do - the preparation of the mince - and the rest is just assembly.
For the mince, I used the little pot of Harissa paste that had been sent to me by Sainsbury's as part of their promotion of the Speciality Ingredients Range. I've used Harissa in the past and not been terribly impressed by it - it seemed a bit pale pink in flavour, whereas I was expecting some deep, big flavours. Well, it would appear that Harissa has come a long way since I first played with it - as the Sainsbury's Speciality Ingredients Harissa contains rose petals, red peppers, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander and caraway and is wonderfully flavoured with all the big, rich, deep combinations that I had given up on. It is true that I did use the entire pot of paste - but then as prices for the entire range top out at £2.99, even if the little pot cost the full £2.99 it was worth it as the only other thing I used was an onion and the mince itself.
I put together a home made Tzatziki - cucumber in Greek Yoghurt, with fresh chopped mint and some seasoning - and the combination was perfect for dipping one corner of your flatbread into. Some marinated beetroot, cherry tomatoes and feta cheese added a lovely zing to the dish. Spicy mince, warm soft flatbread, creamy cool yoghurt and zingy beetroot - I'm beginning to sound like Greg Wallace!
Son and heir loved these flatbreads and has requested a repeat. Hubby's one criticism, which is more a personal taste observation than a criticism, was that he would have preferred the mince to have been more "saucy" and less dry. I loved them just the way they were and feel that to have made the mince mixture wetter would have made it problematical to keep it in the flatbread. As it is, I spread the flatbread with hummus, then added a handful of rocket leaves and piled on the spicy mince. The hummus did a great job of hanging onto the mince, as did the rocket. I can imagine if the mince were more fluid, it would wind up dripping down your arm - which has its attractions, it's true!
HARISSA LAMB IN FLATBREADS, WITH TZATZIKI (makes 6 individual flatbreads)
500g lamb mince
1 onion, cut into quarters and sliced finely
1 pot (90g) Harissa paste
50g rocket leaves
8cm (approx) cucumber
3-4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
2-3 sprigs fresh mint
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
1. Heat a large frying pan until very hot, then add the lamb mince and dry fry it until all the water has evaporated, the fat rendered out and the meat is beginning to caramelise. Drain the fat into a container and set the drained meat to one side.
2. Place a tablespoonful of the fat back into the pan and add the onion. Cook on a medium heat, stirring often, until the onion is softened and a light golden brown colour.
3. Replace the meat back into the pan and bring up to temperature, then mix in the contents of the jar of Harissa. Reduce the heat and continue to cook for some 5 or 6 minutes, or until the flavours have combined sufficiently. Check for seasoning.
4. Sprinkle the flatbreads with a little water and heat in a hot oven for 3-4 minutes.
5. Taking a flatbread, spread it liberally with hummus, then add a handful of rocket leaves to one half of the spread side. Pile a generous spoonful of mince onto the rocket leaves and fold the flatbread over, like a sandwich.
Serve with tzatziki and a small salad including some Feta cheese.