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Easy Middle Eastern Lahmacun
I’m going to let you in on a not-so-secret. You must promise not to tell my Sicilian Nonni. Okay?
I love Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods more than any other food on the planet. You may have heard me mention this a time or twelve, but I could happily eat it every day! With such bold and varied flavors, how could I not???
When California Lavash reached out about trying their authentic Middle Eastern flatbreads, I was thrilled for any excuse to scoop up more hummus! California Lavash breads are all non-GMO verified, vegan, and made without artificial preservatives or chemicals. Yay, for no surprise ingredients!
I opted to test the bread that originally launched their company, the Traditional Lavash! Today, their product line has expanded to include various kinds of lavash, naan, noor, and sangak flatbreads.
Some basic flatbread details: If you aren’t familiar with lavash, it is thinner than naan and works amazing for wraps or paninis! I can also attest that its wonderful warmed and dipped in a smoky baba ganoush! The bread I tried – Traditional Lavash – is also cholesterol free, low sodium, low fat, and contains no added sugar – definitely something I feel good about serving to my family!
I know its a flat-bread so this next comment may seem a bit odd, but I love that its not a heavy, bread-y bread. It creates a stable and substantial enough base to do its job without feeling like I filled up on bread. To me, this makes it a super versatile choice for just about anything!
Did I mention that I love Mediterranean flavors? Just checking;) I wanted to use this flatbread to create a simplified spin on one of my favorites: Lahmacun! Its the Middle Eastern equivalent to pizza! Lahmacun is traditionally baked in a brick oven on a yeast flatbread dough and topped with a raw mixture of beef or lamb, spices, fresh parsley, and an extremely finely chopped (almost pureed) mixture of onions, tomatoes, and peppers. Delicious, yes, but time consuming! And, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t have a brick oven that reaches nearly 1000 degrees at home.
My version of lahmacun contains the same big flavors of the original but is much easier to make! And, I am obsessed! You guys, the spices, flavors, and toppings are amazing together. The maple tahini sauce drizzled on top is what tahini loving dreams are made of. You could just stick with a tzatziki sauce, but then again, you could wear socks on your hands. 😉 The sauce is easy to make and complements the flavors too nicely to be skipped!
Speaking of sauces and toppings and more toppings… I really heaped my toppings on there! I was a little worried the lavash may not be up to such a weighty load but ended up being very pleasantly surprised! The edges of the flatbread crisped up to an almost cracker-like crunch, while the center remained soft, warm, and pliable. Perfecto!
For me, flatbread’s job is 95% vehicle for awesome toppings, but in this case, the bread also tastes great! The strength to support my mountain of toppings is simply a welcome bonus. 😉 I can find California Lavash products at my local Whole Foods, but check their site for a retailer in your neighborhood!
Unfortunately, this whole lavash-lahmacun situation only whetted my appetite for more Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. So if anyone with an amazing kofta, falafel, or tahdig recipe is taking in fully-grown, self-sufficient surrogate daughters or granddaughters, I am available! Teach me your magical culinary ways! 😛
A big thanks to California Lavash for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
- 2 pieces California Lavash Traditional style flatbread
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1/2 lb. ground beef (at 15-20% fat for optimal caramelization)
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 heaped tbsp. canned diced tomatoes or tomato puree
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1/2 tsp. sumac,* plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- scant 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- 3/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 1/2 c. finely chopped parsley, plus more for serving
- 2 tbsp. pine nuts
- 2 tbsp. tahini
- 1 1/2 tsp. pure maple syrup
- 1/4-1/2 tsp. sea salt (to taste)
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2-4 tbsp. water
- 1/2 large english cucumber or 1 small persian cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 10-12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- pinch of each salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in center of oven.
In a food processor, combine chopped onion, bell pepper, garlic, and diced or pureed tomatoes. Pulse until very finely chopped. You don't want it so smooth that its a true puree, so aim for a more coarse texture than a true puree.
Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in large frying pan over medium high heat. Add pulsed vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook uncovered for 3-5 minutes until liquid evaporates. Reduce heat if mixture begins to brown. Once liquid has evaporated, add ground beef, sumac, cinnamon, cumin, chili pepper flakes, and salt. Stir to mix completely with vegetable mixture. The beef and the vegetable mixture should be completely mixed together. Continue to cook uncovered until beef is browned and the rendered fat is beginning to caramelize - about 8-9 minutes.
While meat cooks, toss to combine the sliced cucumbers, red onion, and chopped cherry tomatoes with olive oil and red wine vinegar for serving. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve. Doing this now allows the vinegar to mellow the onions a bit.
Place the pieces of lavash on a rimmed baking sheet and lightly brush them with remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Once the meat has finished cooking, stir in the chopped parsley and divide meat mixture evenly on the prepared lavash. Top with pine nuts and an an extra pinch or two of sumac. Transfer baking sheet to the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the edges of lavash have turned golden and crisped slightly.
While the lahmacun cooks, mix up the maple tahini sauce in a small bowl. Combine tahini, maple, olive oil, and salt until just combined. Add 2 tbsp. water and whisk with fork to combine. If mixture needs to be thinned further, add additional water in 1/2 tbsp. increments until the desired consistency is achieved. We need to be able to drizzle it! I find the amount of water varies dramatically depending on the brand of tahini.
Once the lahmacun has baked, sprikle top with additional chopped parsley to garnish. Serve topped with the red wine vinegar dressed vegetables and a drizzle of the maple-tahini sauce. Slice into strips or squares and serve immediately.
*Sumac is available at well stocked grocery stores or Mediterranean markets. Check Whole Foods bulk spice section!