Rustic Tuscany Flatbread

Rustic Tuscany Flatbread
What is it about fresh, warm, home-baked bread that is so comforting? This Italian flatbread recipe is surprisingly easy to make, and its delicate flavor goes with almost everything. It cooks up so fast; you’ll want to make this for dinner a couple times a week.

3 cups organic flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. dried rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp. dried basil leaves
1 tsp. minced garlic
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup ice-cold water
Extra kosher salt for sprinkling
Extra olive oil for brushing

Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl, and use a fork to gently blend them. Make a well in the center, and pour the oil and water into it. Mix gently until completely blended. If necessary, add a teaspoon or two of cold water; then knead with your hands until dough is smooth.

Pull out a wad of dough about 2 1/2 inches across – slightly larger than an egg or a ping-pong ball. Place onto a lightly floured surface and spread with your fingers into a flat disk about 8 inches across. The top will be uneven.

Heat a large nonstick frypan over medium-high heat. (We used one of those grill pans with the ridges in the bottom, which gave the bread in our photo the sear marks.) When pan is hot, brush the flat dough disk with olive oil and place oiled side down in the pan. Heat for about 2 minutes until a few brown spots appear on the bottom. Brush top with olive oil, flip bread over, and cook another 2 minutes. Slide out of pan onto a plate with paper towels on it, and sprinkle with a little kosher salt. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Serve while warm.

What do you all think about maybe adding some flecks of sun-dried tomatoes to this recipe…or pine nuts? I also think this bread might be delicious with a homemade veggie burger.

cinco de mayo chip dip

Besides chip dipping, this salsa also works great as a taco or burrito topper. If you prefer chunkier salsas, substitute 4 chopped tomatoes for the tomato juice (for a total of 6).

12-oz. can tomato juice
4-oz. can pickled jalapenos, drained and diced (save the liquid)
1 Tbs. pickled jalapeno juice (more if you like)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet white or purple onion, minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

Combine all ingredients. Dip your chips.

pico de gallo

This delightful, fresh Mexican condiment, also called salsa fresca, is simple and delicious. Use it as a taco or burrito topping, or pair it with plantains and black beans and rice for a Latin-inspired dinner. Or just dip your chips in it.

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium red or sweet onion, finely diced
1 to 2 finely diced Serrano chiles (or more, depending on your heat tolerance)
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate briefly before serving. Pico de gallo is best served shortly after preparing it.

summer salsa

What a great way to use up those extra tomatoes from your garden.

4 large, ripe tomatoes
1-2 Tbs. seeded jalapeño peppers
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt

1. Remove skins from tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for less than 1 minute and then plunging them into ice water. Cut tomatoes in half, remove seeds, and chop.

2. Combine chopped tomatoes with remaining ingredients. Add fewer or more jalapeños to taste.


I tasted hummus for the first time when I moved to Los Angeles and began frequenting a local Middle Eastern restaurant known for huge rounds of pita bread, heaping platters of salad, and the three rambunctious brothers who owned the establishment. I’ve been hooked ever since.

2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 Tbs. tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

Place first five ingredients in a food processor and combine. Add olive oil while mixing until a smooth paste is achieved. Add salt to taste. Garnish with a sprinkling of paprika and serve as a dip for raw vegetables or with wedges of pita bread.

hot artichoke dip

This appetizer will fool non-vegans into thinking they’re eating a dairy-laden dip. Try it; you’ll see.

1 cup vegan sour cream
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
8-oz. can artichokes, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1/2 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbs. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large baking dish. Bake at 400° for several minutes, then bake under the broiler for several more minutes until the dip is sizzling and bubbly. Serve with vegetables and bread chunks for dipping.

baba ghanouj

When eggplant is in season and plentiful, we stock up and make huge batches of this Middle Eastern classic. You know, even people who think they don’t like eggplant like baba ghanouj.

2 medium to large eggplants
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbs. tahini
3 Tbs. lemon juice
Salt to taste
Olive oil
Parsley for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 450°. Slice eggplants in half lengthwise. Pierce each half several times with a fork and place on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Bake eggplant halves until tender. Cool.

2. Peel eggplant and mash in a colander; drain juices.

3. Combine first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth (if you don’t have a food processor, stir ingredients together in a large bowl, mashing eggplant as you work). Drizzle with olive oil, garnish with parsley sprigs or chopped parsley, and serve with pita bread.

armenian garlic dip

This is a great way to use day-old bread, and according to the Armenians, the only way to ingest such massive amounts of raw garlic and enjoy it. Jill in Boulder, Colorado submitted this recipe. She says that this recipe is one of several gifts from her dear friend and brother Spice, a vegan gourmet chef.

Jill advises against kissing or engaging in any close-talking with non-eaters of this raw garlic dip soon after you indulge in the intense garlickyness.

5 or 6 cups whole wheat bread innards (everything except the crust)
3 medium bulbs (not cloves) garlic
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/8 cup lemon juice (fresh if possible)
1 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Soak the bread in enough water to more than cover it, and then squeeze out the extra water and set the bread aside. In a food processor, mix the garlic, salt, lemon juice, and oil until the garlic is pureed. Add the bread and run until the mixture is homogenous. Refrigerate several hours to allow flavors to develop.

Note: The garlic has a preservative quality that allows this dip to keep at room temperature in a sealed jar for about two weeks. In the refrigerator, it will keep at least as long, with a gradual intensifying of flavors that is desirable.

cannellini bean dip

This mild dip is perfect for dipping fresh veggies. Try baby carrots, zucchini slices, celery sticks, broccoli and cauliflower florets, asparagus spears, mushrooms, bell pepper slices, or cherry tomatoes. If you prefer spicy dips, try adding a dash of your favorite hot sauce for an extra kick.

1 15-oz. can cannellini beans
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
3 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
1/4 tsp. salt
Additional olive oil for drizzling

Add beans, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and salt to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture into a small serving dish. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with a little oregano or parsley. Dip your veggies!

michelle’s spring rolls

Michelle, mother of five and a great vegan cook, submitted this recipe. You can set out the ingredients and let your guests make their own spring rolls.

2 oz. dried bean thread noodles or rice thread noodles
1 cucumber, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
12 large rice-paper wrappers (8-inch round or larger)
2 cups baby spinach leaves (or other hardy greens such as kale or romaine lettuce), cut in thin strips
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
8 oz. baked, seasoned tofu, cut into 1/4-inch sticks
12 fresh basil or mint leaves
Peanut sauce for dipping

1. Place the noodles in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 5 minutes or until softened. Drain well and set aside.

2. Remove and discard the seeds in the cucumber by scraping a spoon on the center of each piece. Cut each piece into thin strips.

3. Fill a large bowl (at least several inches larger than the rice wrappers) with warm water. Soak one wrapper until soft and pliable, 20-30 seconds. Remove the rice wrapper from the water and lay flat on a counter or cutting board. Place 1-2 tablespoons of spinach leaves along one edge of the wrapper. Place an equal amount of noodles over the spinach. Top with 1 tablespoon of carrot matchsticks, several pieces of cucumber and tofu, and a basil or mint leaf.

4. Roll the wrapper, starting with the filling side, folding the ends over the filling as you roll and forming a tight cylinder. Serve with small bowls of peanut sauce for dipping.