the appetizer:

Plum Gorgeous, Recipes and Memories from the Orchard by Romney Steele includes recipes like September Salad; Kumquats and Toasted Couscous with Halloumi; and Tomato, Grape, and Ricotta Flatbread.

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Tomato, Grape, and Ricotta Flatbread

Makes 2 or 3 flatbreads

Tomato, Grape, and Ricotta Flatbread


Sweet, juicy grapes meld beautifully with cherry tomatoes and Irish ricotta cheese in this rustic flatbread, my ode to California's Indian summer when both fruits are at their glorious peak. Smaller, more intensely flavored wine grapes, like Cabernet Franc (the dark purple grapes shown), are particularly sweet and intensely delicious and offer a rich study in contrasts against the medley of yellow, orange, and red tomatoes and greens. Use good-quality, stone-ground bread flour for the best results. If you have a pizza stone, by all means use it to bake this bread.



To make the dough, sprinkle the yeast over the water in a medium bowl and stir in 1 cup of the flour. Set aside in a warm place for 2 hours, or up to overnight. You are essentially creating a sponge or poolish—this slow rise ultimately results in a more complexly flavored dough.

Combine the remaining 2 cups of flour with the salt and stir into the yeast mixture, along with the olive oil, until well combined. Add up to 1/4 cup more water, if needed, to achieve a dough that comes together easily. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough feels elastic and smooth. Gather into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment and sprinkle with cornmeal or flour.

Gently punch down the dough. Divide it into 2 or 3 balls. Take one and rollout into a loose rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet.

Dot the dough using your fingers, making small wells in it. Brush the surface liberally with extra virgin olive oil. Spread one-half or one-third of the ricotta on the surface and scatter with tomatoes and grapes. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt to taste, and a few leaves of arugula. Drizzle with a little more olive oil. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bake until the crust is golden and the topping nicely charred, about 25 minutes. Top with more fresh arugula leaves.


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This page created September 2011