You may be glad to know I’ve calmed down from my mini Big Food/Big Pharma rant of last week. I got seriously close to popping a vein. I’m just glad I didn’t think of taking my blood pressure at the time of writing.
I was a bit worked up, but once my post was edited for public consumption (removal of a few ‘bloodys’ and possibly something close to libellous), I took a deep breath and just made a pizza. This pizza. Actually many pizzas, and much garlic sauce. Grassy, amber olive oil and pungent, sassy garlic – whose magical properties some drug companies like to sell us in yucky, boring pill form – dolloped over equally magical mushrooms, roasted with za’atar and topped with garden chives. All on a crisped flatbread, golden-edged from yet more olive oil. Whose mood wouldn’t improve with that staring at you from a plate? Perhaps not the boss of a big pharmaceutical company, but they’ve got their fat pay checks to cheer them. My family don’t mind if I get worked up as it often results in me storming into the kitchen in an indignant rage, bashing about until something emerges from the oven. Rarely a cake. Cakes need to be made in good temper and good cheer. But pizzas, or anything requiring a lot of chopping, are perfect for indignant rage. Or not. You certainly don’t have to be in a foul mood to make pizza, but rolling dough (which you don’t have to do for this, btw) and chopping things is such a good tonic to stress and upset. Eating the result, even more so.
And it seems I was treating my undoubted spike of blood pressure as well: extra virgin olive oil and garlic (especially just crushed and raw like this) are, of course, good for lowering blood pressure and improving heart health. So much more delicious and cost-effective than yet another damn pill.
Do you head for the kitchen when you are stressed or upset? What do you make? Does it help?
Middle Eastern Roasted Mushroom Flatbread Pizzas with Lemony Garlic Sauce
I’ve used a combination of chestnut mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms in this simple, herby recipe, but use whatever kind you have or like. Although the amount of mushrooms is up to you, please bear in mind that the mushrooms do shrink quite a bit when roasted, so don’t skimp on them. Also, you can save some calories by using oil spray on the mushrooms – they are a bit drier as a result but once you drizzle over the garlic sauce it all plumps up.
One pizza will do for two as a snacky meal with salad, but you might like to make one each if you are particularly hungry or active. Btw, the garlic sauce is bloody fantastic so make more if you like and use it as a dip or drizzle for vegetables, protein – anything but dessert!
2 baked soft flatbreads – about 26cm/10 inches diameter, or thereabouts *
400g (just under 1 lb) mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped or broken up
1 tbsp (+) olive oil OR oil spray
1 ½ tbsp za’atar spice mix (but Steenbergs and Moon Valley are great UK brands) OR 1 tsp lemon juice (to sub for sumac), ½ tsp dried thyme, ½ tsp dried marjoram, ½ tsp dried oregano, pinch salt, 2 tsp roasted sesame seeds
Chives or other herbs, such as oregano, to decorate
6-8 fat cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
½ tsp salt
80ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
Juice 1 small lemon (about 3 tbsp)
1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F.
2. Mix the oil with the za’atar and toss into the chopped mushrooms. Or spray the mushrooms with oil spray and toss through the za’atar. Pour the mushrooms onto two baking trays and roast for 10 minutes.
3. While the mushrooms are roasting, gather the sauce ingredients and blend them until smooth in a mini food processor, or use a hand blender.
4. Take the flatbreads and cut them into even slices, pizza-style. Once the mushrooms are cooked and hopefully still quite juicy, divide them among the slices, drizzle a little oil on the outer edges of the flatbread and pop the pizzas back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes, or until the bread is slightly toasted and ‘pick-upable’.
Serve with scattered herbs, salad and a jug of the lemony garlic sauce.
*Arabic style preferred but any soft flatbreads will do – tortillas will be too thin. Of course a recipe of homemade flatbread or pizza base would be perfect, in which case place cooked mushrooms (pre-roasted for five minutes) on the dough and bake as indicated with your flatbread/pizza recipe.
Track of the week is an oldie but goodie from Scottish band OK Social Club, Gezelling. I can’t believe I haven’t posted this before as I really love it. Cheeky, sweet and honest. Love Raff’s voice so much.