May 18, 2012

Flatbreads with Creamy Red Pepper Scallion Spread

by IsaChandra

Makes 4 flatbreads (serves 4 to 8)
Active time: 30 minutes (you’ll need to let the bread rise for at least an hour, though)


The inspiration for this was pretty straightforward: I saw a blonde lady on the Cooking Channel make something just like it! And it just so happened I had some dough that I was going to use for pizza, but a flatbread became a much better idea. After all, it’s springtime! My grill was calling to me and the thought of lots of fresh greens over a creamy, springy spread sounded too good to resist.

But what’s the difference, really, between a dressed up flatbread and a pizza? Not much, I suppose. I could easily call this a grilled pizza and not get too many sideways glances. But it probably comes down to this: I call something a flatbread when it’s shaped all funny and the toppings are added after the dough is baked instead of before.

The end result is perfect for an evening around the picnic table, or fire escape, or wherever you may be (but definitely try to eat outdoors.) A beautiful charred bread, all aromatic and crispy outside, made especially so from a handful of cornmeal. The spread is nicely thick, creamy and garlicky, but still light and refreshing with bits of red pepper and scallion. It’s a cinch to put together in the food processor! Sort of ends up like a vegetable cream cheese, so if you’re in the market for something to put on your bagels, this may be your answer. And on top is a lightly dressed salad (totally casual – olive oil and lemon), making this meal perfectly seasonal, fun to eat and pretty as all hell to look at. I also threw on a few toasted walnuts because everything should have toasted walnuts.

Recipe Notes

~Bread flour is a newer pantry ingredient for me. Usually I use all-purpose because it’s always on hand in my kitchen, and probably yours, too. But I love the crusty chewiness that higher-protein bread flour gives flatbread, and so if it’s not an ingredient you usually keep on hand, give it a shot and see what you think! The difference might be just enough to convince you to keep it around always for emergency pizzas.

~ What I really love about this rustic flatbread method, is that you don’t hafta’ worry too much about getting perfectly shaped breads. Aim for something oval, and whatever happens after that is beautiful serendipity. The dough is nice and firm, too, so the trip from countertop to grill top isn’t incredibly harrowing. It should make it there in one piece and without too much trouble.

~There are so many fun things you can do with flatbread, it quite literally can be your canvas! Try it with edamame pesto, romesco sauce or even hummus. Top with arugula or kale or really anything in the world you can think of. Throw on some olives, toasted pine nuts, chopped sausages, tempeh bacon…google it up and see what other people are doing, steal those ideas, transform them and come up with your own enticing creations.

~ I knead bread in a standing mixer, but of course, you can knead by hand! It will take a bit longer, naturally.

~ Medium grind corn meal is used here. The coarse grind is a bit too grainy for me and the fine ground is hardly detectable. But if you don’t see what size grind your cornflour is on the package, don’t sweat it, it’ll come out yummy no matter what.

~ If you prefer to bake the breads, you can do so in a 450 F oven, for 12 to 15 minutes. Place directly on a baking stone for the crispiest results, but a large baking sheet will work, too!

~ For the best time management, make the spread while the dough is rising. It’s as easy as throwing together hummus.

For the Flatbread:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 cups bread flour (or a little less, see directions)
  • 1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For the Scallion Spread:

  • 1/2 cup cashews (unroasted)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional, but it makes it a bit more creamy)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 a red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped

For the salad:

  • 6 cups baby mixed salad greens
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Big pinch salt

To serve:

  • A handful of toasted walnuts
  • Additional thinly sliced red bell pepper (the remainder of the half you used for the spread)

Make the spread:
In a food processor, chop the cashews into coarse crumbs. Add the garlic and pulse to incorporate. Crumble the tofu in your hands and drop it in. Add the lemon juice, olive oil (if using), nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and blend until relatively smooth, a little texture from the nuts is great.

Add the scallions and red pepper and pulse until they’re chopped into tiny bits. You don’t want them to be completely pureed, make sure that there’s some crunch from the red peppers.

Taste for salt and seasonings. If it needs anything else, don’t puree again, just remove the blade, scrape everything into the bowl and gently mix in with a fork. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the flatbreads:
Add water and sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes to bloom.

Mix in the olive oil then Add one cup of the flour along with the salt. Mix on low until well incorporated, and then turn the speed up to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

Add another 1/2 cup of flour and the 1/2 cup of cornmeal, and mix well, starting on low and then switching to medium speed. Then add another 1/2 cup of flour, again starting on low and switching to medium. Knead on medium for about 5 minutes. You may occasionally have to get in there with your hands if the dough starts climbing up the hook. It should become smooth and elastic and slightly tacky. At this point, incorporate flour by the tablespoon, with the mixer running. When it starts to seem dry, stop adding flour. This could be anywhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. Knead again on medium until it is elastic easy to stretch, about 8 more minutes.

Meanwhile, drizzle about two tablespoons of olive oil into a large mixing bowl. The dough will double in size, so make sure you have enough room. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl, tossing it around to coat with oil. Cover the top in plastic wrap and put in a warm place. Let dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

When dough has doubled, fire up your grill. Keep the flame high and close the lid. If you have a thermometer, it should be at about 500 F.

Punch the dough down, give it a quick knead and tear it into 4 equal-ish pieces. On a large cutting board, form each piece into an oval that is about 8 inches long and 5 inches across. I just use my hands for this, but you can use a rolling pin if you prefer.

Place the dough on the grill. It should take about 3 to 4 minutes for the bottoms to get grill marks and become firm. If it takes a little longer that’s cool, but definitely check one after 3 minutes. Use tongs to flip the bread over and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until grill marks appear.

Remove breads from the grill with tongs and place on the large cutting board. Keep covered with a kitchen towel to keep warm until ready to use.

Prepare the salad:
At the last minute so that they’re as fresh as can be, use a large bowl to toss the salad greens with lemon, olive oil and a big pinch of salt.

Use the back of a spoon to spread the Scallion Spread onto the flatbread. Top with handfuls of dressed greens and scatter on toasted walnuts and red pepper, if desired. Slice in half with a pizza slicer, if you like, and serve! (Confession: we did not slice these in half, we just gobbled them down.)

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:15 pm: Sara

    Man this looks amazing! I am really digging the new blog look, too. Bookmarking this recipe!

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm: Richa@HobbyandMore

    love that scallion spread! and the gorgeous rustic flatbread.. i am a sucker for good easy breads:) this is perfect for bbq season!

    Please do drop by the Auction fundraiser to help VSPCA,India on my blog, to bid or to Share. Shipping is available in US, India, and some international. They are an amazing vegan non profit, rescuing cows, calfs, dogs, all animals, providing permanent sanctuary, and also feeding Vegan meals to the homeless! Thanks a bunch!

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm: Bonnie

    These look beautiful! I don’t have a grill but now I wish I did because that flatbread looks great.

    I love the new design/little drawings too, cute!

  • May 18, 2012 at 10:34 pm: val

    Those look absolutely perfect! I will have to make these very soon. Thanks!

  • May 18, 2012 at 11:02 pm: Maria

    Do you think it would be possible to use soaked sunflower seeds instead of cashews?

    • May 19, 2012 at 4:17 am: IsaChandra

      Uh huh, for sure!

  • May 19, 2012 at 2:11 am: Jen

    My boyfriend is allergic to every single kind of nut in the world. I am gonna make this and eat it in front of him and tell him how good it is. Maybe I will thow him some scraps of bread. But probably not.

  • May 19, 2012 at 2:55 am: Leilani

    Um, YUMMMM! I’m sooooooo making this!

  • May 19, 2012 at 3:10 am: Lisa

    I have been eating vegan for almost a week now and this blog as well as Veganomicon have been lifesavers. I have never known how to cook and now that I will be 40 this year, I figured now is a good time to start. Also thank you for all the suggestions for substitutions. Instead of spending tons of money on recipe ingredients, you help me figure out how to use what I’ve got. I have made some culinary mistakes since starting but have had far more successes. For example, I didn’t cook my garbonzo beans for hummus and made it anyway not knowing why the consistency was off. I also tried your sunflower mac recipe and obviously made a mistake with the sauce but am quite unsure what I did wrong. Both items are still in my fridge because I didn’t want to waste them. I looked at this recipe and included both ‘mistakes’ into the food processor for the spread. It turned out quite amazing. I may turn out to be a good cook yet!

  • May 19, 2012 at 3:48 am: Caralyn @

    this looks amazing!! i’m definitely going to check out the scallion spread! thanks for the recipe!!

  • May 19, 2012 at 7:36 am: Emma

    These look fabulous. I think flatbread is more summer appropriate then pizza somehow with the cool ingredients on top :) Oh..and little tip to save on buying bread flour- just add about a tablespoon of vital wheat gluten to every cup of all-purpose and it’s ready made bread flour great for recipes like this!

  • May 19, 2012 at 12:58 pm: Lori

    Absolutely perfect for spring! Every component sounds so good.

  • May 19, 2012 at 7:21 pm: Miz Mac

    This looks beautiful! I’m so excited to make it on our grill.
    Regarding bread flour, as I understand it the difference between bread flour and all purpose flour is the higher gluten content. Since I always keep some vital wheat gluten around for making seitan, burgers, etc. I just add about 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of gluten flour for each cup of flour to make the flour I already have on hand bread-friendly with that extra delicious chew you mentioned. I put the gluten flour in the bottom of my measuring cup and add regular flour to fill it to a full cup. Use 1 whole tablespoon per cup of whole wheat flour, your whole wheat bread will rise much better and be less dense with the extra gluten. All purpose flour might need a bit less, but I’ve experimented less with this since I usually make whole wheat. Happy baking (and grilling)!

  • May 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm: Jon

    I just did the flatbreads part of the recipe and then topped them with random things from the fridge, but they were delicious and easy.

  • May 20, 2012 at 11:51 pm: Joel

    I made it. I am the main cook for my wife of 57 years. We are getting to be old vegans. We both loved it. I follow you every day on flip board. We are going to be in New York May 29 to June 1. Can you recommend a good vegan restaurant near prospect park in Brooklyn?

    • May 22, 2012 at 3:32 am: IsaChandra

      I loved going to the Islands on Washington ave and picking up Tofu Curry and the Stewed Beans, then eating them in the park. It’s not a vegan restaurant, but those two dishes are amazing.

  • May 21, 2012 at 9:50 am: Linzi

    Looks amazing, as always! The printable version doesn’t seem to have the full recipe on it though, unless it’s just my stupid computer..

    • May 22, 2012 at 3:31 am: IsaChandra

      You’re right, thank you! I will try to get it fixed ASAP.

  • May 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm: Lavon

    Is there something other than tofu you could use for the scallion spread?

    • May 22, 2012 at 3:29 am: IsaChandra

      I bet white beans would be yummy.

  • May 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm: Nottingham_Kathleen

    Wow, I had this this yesterday and then spent all of today looking forward to having it again for tea tonight. I made the scallion spread and prepped the leaves exactly as stated in the instructions and the were gorgeous. Being a tad on the lazy side, when it came to make the flatbread I just put all of the ingredients in my breadmaker and set it for the 45 minute pizza dough programme. The dough came out very sticky so I think I’ll use a little extra liquid next time. Being in rainy old England I didn’t have the option for using and outside grill so used a griddle pan (been unused in the cupboard for well over a year!) and the bread came out GORGEOUS. It only needs a few minutes on each side and ends up all cool and stripy looking. I split the scallion spread (it too is gorgeous) into four portions and then realised that there is a lot more than you need – but hey, some carrot sticks will soon sort that problem out.
    Never before have I made something that looks as good as it does in the picture. Can’t wait to have more tomorrow.
    The dough seems to keep well in the fridge.
    I’m thinking about swapping the tofu for butter beans next time to make it super cheap and storecupboardy too.
    I’ll be quiet now.

  • May 22, 2012 at 5:21 pm: Janice

    This is absolutely tasty. I used naan instead of making flat bread. I used spinach, tomatoes, red peppers and cilantro in the salad. I sprinkled smoked tofu on top. OMG this is so delicious, I could eat the whole thing but that would be gluttonous. lol

  • May 22, 2012 at 11:45 pm: Kristin

    Hey, quick question. What type of yeast do you use? I have instant yeast on hand, will that do?

  • May 23, 2012 at 1:37 am: Molly

    The bread was so delicious. I had a finer cornmeal and it made for a really great texture in the bread. We were a little too lazy to fire up the grill outside, so I just used a cast iron grill on the stove and it was fine.

    The spread is amazing too, it is the perfect replacement for veggie cream cheese.

  • May 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm: Kristy

    This looks so yummy, that I am inspired for the first time in my life to buy an actual barbecue/grill. That flatbread looks INSANE and I need to make that Scallion spread ASAP!

  • May 24, 2012 at 3:55 am: Jena

    YES! I have a bunch of cashews and tofu in the fridge and after making portabella pizzas today, was contemplating making something to this extent. Whaddaya know, I also have a big ol bag of scallions. Flat bread here we come. Thank you Isa!!!

  • May 26, 2012 at 9:29 pm: jade taylor

    Me n hubbie adore u Isa! We have tons of vegan cookbooks but if it wasn’t for you it would be so very very much harder to be vegan as we’d be relyingon convenience vegan foods a lot more… N they expensive! Your recipes make me seem a good cook… Thanks. Just to let you know you are very appreciated here in Endgland too xx

    • May 27, 2012 at 7:54 pm: IsaChandra

      Thanks much!

  • May 27, 2012 at 11:44 am: Jillian

    This recipe was amazing! All my omni friends loved the scallion spread and couldn’t believe it had *gasp* tofu in it! And the flat bread was quick and delicious! Thanks so much for post yet another great recipe!

  • May 28, 2012 at 3:36 pm: Emma

    Has anybody tried a gluten-free flour yet? Recommendations? I was very recently diagnosed with a wheat allergy and I still don’t know much about which flours work best in which recipes.

  • May 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm: Kelley

    This was really wonderful. Big hit with friends. Will definitely be making it again–thanks!

  • May 29, 2012 at 1:05 am: Maddie

    This was really delicious. I do have one complaint though. The spread, while awesome, makes way too much. I could easily get 8, but probably 12 servings out of it. I plan my menus a week in advance, so unexpected leftovers either go uneaten, or mean something else does. I don’t know how long this will keep, but I suspect a large part will get thrown away. Shame too because it really is good.

  • May 31, 2012 at 12:56 am: Leah

    I just made the spread and it is delightful. I have your basic sausage recipe steaming up right now. Tomorrow I am making the flat bread recipe with the spread, salad, and sausage crumbles. I can’t wait. :) Thank you.

  • May 31, 2012 at 10:46 pm: KZCakes

    Jealous of your sweet grill! a grill pan does no justice.

  • June 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm: Lavon

    I just was given a pizza stone. I think I am going to try it out with this recipe

  • June 4, 2012 at 3:03 pm: Lorii Abela

    Looking great and delicious. Will definitely try making this one. Thanks for the recipe.

  • June 7, 2012 at 2:29 pm: Jane

    Awesome recipe! We didn’t have cashews so substituted a mixture of pine nuts, pistachio nuts & sunflower seeds (also didn’t have walnuts so sprinkled with sunflower seeds) & this was YUM! We had loads of the spread leftover, which made a great sandwich filling throughout the week. Definitely making again.

  • June 7, 2012 at 4:16 pm: Sarah

    These were delicious! We had left over spread as well, so we’ve been eating it in pitas all week!

  • June 7, 2012 at 11:13 pm: Connie Fletcher

    Isa…my hero!!! I was recently notified that your new book won’t be out until August???? Is this true??? I can’t hardly wait!! I’m very excited!!!

  • June 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm: Robyn

    I made these, but used Naan heated in the oven since I live in an apartment and have no grill :) They were wonderful!!!

  • June 13, 2012 at 3:20 am: Paige

    I made this tonight and it was freaking amazing. This is by far one of my favorite recipies! I have shared it with all my friends and told them to make this now. Not tomorrow, now.

  • June 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm: Kristin

    I made this last night and it. was. AMAZING! I plan to make them again this weekend when we have guests over. I may just make them next week again too lol Thanks so much for a fabulous something that fills my pizza void (newly vegan here), and is incredibly fresh and healthy and yummy and not too hard to make. Fab!

  • June 19, 2012 at 12:29 am: Chris

    This was awesome and I am looking forward to having it agin rel soon. Is it possible to make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate for a couple days before use? Or Freeze?

  • June 21, 2012 at 5:00 am: angelique

    Isa, this was so good–too damn good. My man thought the flatbread on the grill would be a disaster, but nope, it turned out perfect. I made a pesto spread as a second choice to your creamy (very creamy) cashew and tofu one, and everyone preferred yours. We all ate and ate until we could eat no more. There’s plenty of the spreads left for dipping poolside tomorrow.

  • June 24, 2012 at 9:48 am: tricone bits

    At the last minute so that they’re as fresh as can be, use a large bowl to toss the salad greens with lemon, olive oil and a big pinch of salt.

  • June 24, 2012 at 10:10 am: rock bits

    When dough has doubled, fire up your grill. Keep the flame high and close the lid. If you have a thermometer, it should be at about 500 F.

  • June 24, 2012 at 10:12 am: drag bits

    Add water and sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes to bloom.

  • July 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm: Robin

    Made this last night and it was fabulous! I didn’t have a stand mixer, so I just kneaded by hand for about 10 minutes, adding flour a little at a time till it wasn’t sticky anymore. I also used rapid rise yeast so no need to wait the 5 minutes at the beginning. One departure was to use firm tofu vs. extra firm because that was all I could find. It tasted great, but I wonder if the extra firm would have made the spread have a thicker consistency. Mine was a little loose. Lots of spread leftovers, so will eat with veggies and crackers. Yum!

  • July 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm: Bobbi Dwyer

    I made the “spread” and the family went nuts over. The recipe makes a lot but it did not last long at all.
    It is just as good (better, really) as the vegetable cream cheese spread at the bagel shoppe. My son-in-law said that he was spreading it on everything. Stuffed celery, husband had it on crackers. pita chips so so good. Printing this one to go in the back of Veganomicon. By the way, made sausage & peppers with your amazing sausage recipe and served it at a church supper. Didn’t say a word about vegetarian/vegan. Just let everyone go at it. Loved it.

    Thanks Isa!

  • August 4, 2012 at 3:04 am: Rachel

    I made this tonight and it was absolutely amazing and super easy–my non vegan fam loved it! Any ideas on what to do with scallion spread leftovers though?? Although if I have to make MORE flatbread and greens, not sure I will complain(; Thanks!

  • August 19, 2012 at 3:20 am: MaryNYC

    This scallion spread was wildly successful at a picnic I took it to this week! I couldn’t believe it! So many people (including the author of 2 cookbooks) asked for the recipe, which I sent them. Thank you!

  • August 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm: Hannah

    I have to try this out! It is just toooo delicious looking. Easy, delicious breads are right up my cooking alley. Thanks for the ideas!

  • August 23, 2012 at 6:08 pm: Esther

    I loved this idea, and have used the spread in 3 things already – since *yesterday* when I made it!! Thanks for such a versatile recipe. Check out how I used it to make delicious vegan stuffing:

  • August 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm: Katie

    YUMM this looks delicious!! I will definitely be trying it out! I love the look of your blog as well!

  • August 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm: Blue

    Yummy !! How could i make this bread wholemeal ? (its a stupid question i guess but hey, if you dont ask!) :)

  • October 3, 2012 at 12:34 am: B McD

    This is pretty much the most crazy delicious thing ever. Yeah, I ran several miles today and was almost gonna eat my arm (if only it were vegan), but I’m glad I waited because this was totally the belle of the ball (the ball on my tastebuds). I have tons of the spread left over and I cannot wait to use it in a wrap tomorrow for lunch. Thank you guys so so much.

  • October 10, 2012 at 5:23 am: Kay

    oh my gosh that looks delicious! However, I am allergic to cashews. Is there any way to substitute almonds for the cashews and get similar results? My fiancee and his son, who I just moved in with, are dairy free (I’m not but trying to learn) and I’d love to figure out a way to make these without a trip to the ER. Thanks!

  • October 13, 2012 at 11:50 pm: AshYTim

    I finally just got a chance to make these. We used our griddle to “grill” them and add the sexy grill marks. We are eating them now.. Oh my.. SO GOOD! We will have to make this a staple meal in our house. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • November 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm: Chrissy

    This looks absolutely delicious! Soon to be made :)

  • May 26, 2013 at 11:37 am: Ernie

    I NEVER comment on recipes but we cooked these on the grill last night and what an incredible result …. I’m still thinking about them. I was so shocked that flatbread could be easily grilled like this but I was proven wrong. The toppings can vary widely but this bread recipe is great. I used agave nectar instead of sugar and let the bread rise all day long (maybe 4 hours), also I added 2 T of vital wheat gluten to all purpose flour as recommended below instead of bread flour. AMAZING!

  • August 12, 2013 at 7:13 pm: Tracy

    They sell this at the San Francisco Ferry Bldg Farmers Market (but they use dairy based cheese). What I love though is they use the roasted walnut and capers and heirloom tomatoes! Yummy!! I put a photo on my site of it in fact. under Eat Your Plants menu.

  • August 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm: Ellie

    Made these last night. It was 100 degrees out, but I didn’t want salad. This seemed like a great compromise! I don’t have a grill, but I was able to cook the flatbreads on a grill pan on the stovetop (I put a cookie sheet on top to help hold the heat in). They cooked up perfectly, with gorgeous grill lines! And it was much cooler than heating up the whole oven to 500 degrees like I do for normal pizza! I’m glad I read the other comments, because I grabbed some bagels as well to spread the extra cashew/tofu deliciousness on! I will enjoy those for breakfast later this week.

  • October 9, 2013 at 6:59 pm: Kelly

    LOVEEEE this website!!! :D

  • February 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm: Steffanie

    Hi, how much scallion spread does the recipe make and how long will it keep?

  • January 13, 2015 at 2:40 am: tamara

    made it tonite, was super tasty! made some tasty flatbreads with whole wheat and rye (3/4 / 1/4), quickly sauteed the scallions before mixing them and added some rucola in the spread while mixing. meow, super nice, thank you!