Spinach Flatbread Pizza – a healthier whole wheat crust infused with spinach puree that makes the most perfect flatbread pizzas.
There’s a ‘make-your-own’ flatbread pizza place close to my home that has a very good selection of toppings, including, *drum roll please* Vegan cheese!!! So obviously, I’m there every chance I get, and while I’m there, I’m all eyes for their giant brick pizza oven. Over time, this subconscious ogling turned into an obsession and I just couldn’t get my mind off how perfect these personal-sized pizzas came out each time.
These are flatbread pizzas, mind you, and they do whole wheat crusts too, yet each one, irrespective of the flours used, came out with copious amounts of yeast bubbles – you know what I’m talking about… It’s when you pull a slice out of the whole pie and see holes in the dough indicating yeast activity. To me, that is just magic waiting to be eaten!
I took it upon myself to re-create this yeasty goodness at home, but what’s a challenge if you can’t throw a few more hurdles into the pool? So I decided to make a spinach infused crust to up the ‘health’ factor, and to give me enough reasons to host pizza night with a side of little less guilt. Plus, the idea of turning something green (“Eat your greens!”, says mom) into a common junk food thrilled me!
And that’s how this Spinach Flatbread Pizza came to be. Vegan, of course. But that’s not even the best part.
The dough is where all the magic lies. Here’s what makes it so special:
- There’s spinach puree hydrating the dough, making it much more nutritious and a beautiful green. Call it ‘The Hulk’ Pizza and the kids will eat it.
- The flour is 50:50 bread flour : wheat flour. I use this particular brand of Multi-grain wheat flour – it’s comprised of 90.9% whole wheat, 5.2% defatted soy, 1.4% oats, 1% psyllium husk, 0.9% corn and 0.6% lentil, making this pretty special already.
- I make this dough sometime after lunch and let it slowly rise and proof in a warm spot until dinner time. It can also be refrigerated if you want to use it the following day, so it’s a great and versatile make-ahead dough.
- You can make so much more than pizza with this dough. I’ve skipped the yeast and made flatbreads (roti) with all multi-grain wheat flour for a healthier, more fibrous dinner with a side of chickpea curry. You can make rolls, ravioli, noodles, tacos, and so much more.
First, you start with blanched spinach. You can skip the blanching and directly puree it, but the spinach will turn an unsightly green as it proofs. By blanching, not only are you cooking the spinach, you’ll get an electric green that stays green until the end. The hot water bath also gives the greens a chance to be sanitized, so you know for sure that your yeast are the only microorganisms working on your dough. Use this spinach puree to hydrate your dough.
Once you’re ready to make your pizzas, you’ve got to roll the dough out to as thin as you can without tearing it. Since the dough is 50:50 bread flour and wheat, there won’t be too much spring back. Roll out the dough on a surface dusted with wheat flour with a rolling pin. Then lift the dough and using your knuckles, spread the dough apart and move along the edges until it’s just about 3mm thick. Your dough is ready for the stove when you can see your fingers through the dough when held up against the light.
Pizza Oven effect at home
Here’s the part where we mimic the brilliance of a brick pizza oven in the confines of a home kitchen. The cooking of this pizza is a 2-step process – once on the stove and once under the broiler.
Why? At the pizza place, the pizza dough + toppings is always pushed closest to the heat source, and that sudden burst of heat forms its bubbles. Then it’s moved to the back row, slightly further away from the heat to finish cooking, the cheese to melt and the vegetables to caramelize. The brick oven at the pizza place has a digital temperature gauge and the numbers are always around 550°F. Now, home ovens can never get that hot, but the broiler comes pretty close.
Step 1: On the stove
Heat up your favorite 10″ cast iron skillet. Brush a little olive oil as it heats up. Once hot, add your rolled out dough, reduce heat to medium and watch the bubbles form. Once the bottom is crisp, remove from skillet onto a baking tray and brush with oil.
Step 2: Top + broil!
Turn on your oven’s broiler – my oven doesn’t have a separate broiler tray, rather it’s the top coil that turns on.
Leave your oven’s baking rack on the middle shelf. Let the oven heat up.
Top your pizza with the sauce of your choice – mine is this 5 min homemade spicy marinara, vegetables, [vegan] cheese, herbs and whatever your heart may fancy. A drizzle of olive oil is totally warranted too. This is, afterall, pizza we’re talking about; everyone has favorites and however weird it may be, it’s still our own above all reproach and judgement. If pineapple on your pizza tugs at your heartstrings, you do you!
Then you bake in the oven on the broiler setting. We’ve already cooked the bottom of the pizza on the stove. Now we want the top + vegetables to cook and the cheese to melt.
Ovens are as varied as our pizza topping choices, so keep an eye on the first pizza to know yours – once you see that cheese bubble and turn golden brown in spots, it’s time to take it out.
Slice and serve immediately. I like to get a rhythm going to keep the pizzas going steadily. One pizza per person is a safe bet, 1.5 if they’re extra hungry and as long as you have a few sides, you can get away with just one per person.
Next pizza night, I hope you give this Spinach Flatbread Pizza a try – you may not go back to regular pizza any time soon. And why would you, when this one is so good, many times over?!?!
And when you make this delicious VEGAN Spinach Flatbread Pizza (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!