Birthdays in middle school were so much easier than they are now. I invited 10 or so girls to my house for pizza, cake, presents, a movie, a sleepover, and breakfast from my mom the next morning before everyone headed home. Now it seems so much more complicated! This year, I finally decided to have a party that would allow me to cook a bunch of delicious food I wouldn’t normally make and then…write about it!
I ordered Martha Stewart’s Entertaining last week. Opening it up made me feel like there were endless possibilities for cooking for my friends, and that suddenly I couldn’t have ENOUGH dinner parties. And so my ideas for the weekend’s food came in a flood.
I decided (after many iterations) on a relatively simple menu of 3 savory appetizers and 4 desserts, balanced to feed vegetarians and non-vegetarians, warm and cold, crunchy and soft, salty and sweet, traditional and non-traditional, picky and adventurous. I’ll be posting those recipes throughout the week.
The first is one of the simplest yet most delicious and impressive-looking. Courtesy of Mike, as always, come these Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Flatbreads. I was originally planning to make roasted tomato and goat cheese tarts on puff pastry, like O Pistachio’s Bite-Size Tomato Tarts, but flatbreads are a particular inside-joke with my friend Steph.
Steph’s from Portland, ME, and on a recent trip to the city for a frisbee tournament, she brought me and Mike to the Flatbread Company, a restaurant specializing in flatbreads. She told us it would be like nothing else we’d ever had before. It WAS delicious, but we teased her to no end for framing the flatbreads as the exotic cuisine of Portland. So now, at any opportunity, I like to make these “Portland specialties.” Somehow it never stops being hilarious!
We used pre-made pizza dough from the grocery store to save time, since we were making so many other dishes for the party. It’s so cheap, too–$2 for enough dough for 2 whole pizzas! My only complaint is that it’s difficult to find whole wheat pizza dough, and if I were to make my own I’d definitely make it with WW flour. We bought way too much dough, but extra flatbreads make great sandwiches the next day!
Caramelizing onions is a long process, usually about an hour or so, but it’s really easy if you’re patient, and so worth it. The pictures below show a couple of the steps to caramelization. They cook down to a soft, brown, super-savory treat that matches perfectly with the taste of goat cheese.
For this party, we made 4 flatbreads and cut each into eighths to serve 32 appetizers. You could also serve each flatbread as 1 dinner serving.
Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Flatbreads
Serves 4-32, depending on how you cut them!
3 large red onions, cut into spears (see photo)
Salt and pepper
1/2 bag pre-made pizza dough (usually 1 pound)
8 oz goat cheese, cold
Dried (or fresh) parsley
Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil in your pan, enough to coat the bottom. Add onions and a few pinches of salt. Let the onions caramelize, stirring only occasionally, for about an hour, or until they’re brown and very soft.
To make flatbreads, divide pizza dough into quarters (you’ll get eighths from the whole bag, but we used only half for this particular appetizer). Stretch dough until it is evenly thin and about the size of your grill pan. Lightly brush oil onto the dough and place in a grill pan. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes. Don’t move the dough once it’s in the pan or you won’t get the grill marks.
Once all of your flatbreads are finished, spread caramelized onions on each. Crumble about 2 oz of goat cheese on each flatbread, then sprinkle parsley over the top. Cut into appropriate portions and serve.