Middle Eastern-Style Lamb Pizza
Thank you Sprouts Farmers Market for sponsoring this post
Like many families, when we find ourselves killing time, say on a road trip or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, we prompt each other with the same stream of conversation time and again. Over the years we’ve plowed through dozens of topics that begin something along the lines of, “what’s the best movie of all time?” or “what’s your favorite color?” A common one from my kids is, “if you were to have another girl, what would you name her?” And “what’s your favorite food?” consistently finds its way into the dialogue. My answers to these questions tend to shift depending on my mood, except for one. My favorite food always remains the same:
I’m not that picky about my pizza. Sure, I favor a good artisanal pie with a burnished crust, but I’ll happily accept most any form: plain or piled high with vegetables, Chicago style or with a cracker-thin crust, old-school topped with ham and pineapple or a little more off script, such as today’s recipe for Middle Eastern-Style Lamb Pizza.
The pizza is inspired by the flavors of Central Asia and the Middle East. It’s built on a foundation of whole-grain naan, a flatbread, which I was delighted to find at my local Sprouts Farmers Market. The naan gets topped with a savory, just-so-spicy blend of onions, ground lamb, spices, and diced tomatoes. The lamb, also sold at Sprouts, adds so much richness and depth to the pizza, very little cheese is required to round out the pie. Fresh mint and quick pickled red onions make a bright finish.
With summer coming, I figured this was a good one to do on the grill. The high heat of a barbecue can emulate that of a pizza oven, and thus cooks the pizza quickly with a crisp crust. Not to worry, though, if grilling isn’t your thing (or you happen to be making this in January instead of July). It can be done successfully in the oven, too,
Side Note: If you are as fond of pizza as I am, you might find other recipes that grab your eye by heading here.
Spicy Lamb Pizza on Naan with Mint and Pickled Onions
Whole-grain naan is an excellent base for an ever-so-exotic pizza done on the grill. Top it with ground lamb cooked down with tomatoes and Middle Eastern spices. Quick pickled onions and a shower of fresh mint make for a bright finish. If you don’t have a grill (or don't feel like lighting up the barbecue) this can easily be done in a hot oven.
- ½ cup vinegar, red or white wine, or apple cider
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 1 large red onion
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the naan
- 2 large cloves minced garlic
- ½ pound ground lamb
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like it extra spicy)
- One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 Sprouts whole-wheat tandoori naan
- 4 ounces fresh Mozzarella
- ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
Get your gas or charcoal grill preheated to high heat/flame. Or preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
In a shallow bowl, stir together the vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Cut half the onion into thin slices and toss with the vinegar solution. Leave to pickle, tossing from time to time.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Chop the remaining half onion and saute until tender, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. Add the lamb, 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, coriander, paprika, and pepper flakes. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook until the lamb is broken into small pieces, like taco meat, and cooked through. Add the diced tomatoes and simmer for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it doesn't look particularly saucy, stir in a tablespoon or 2 of water. Remove from heat.
Lighly brush the bottom of the 4 naans with olive oil. Divide the lamb mixture over the naan, leaving ½-inch border around the edge. Break the Mozzarella into pieces and dot it over the naan. Transfer the pizzas to the grill and close the lid. Grill until the cheese melts and the bottom is very brown around the edges and crisp (about 5 minutes on a very hot grill). Alternatively, bake the pizzas in the oven until brown and crisp.
Remove the pizzas from the grill. Top each one with several slices of pickled onion and the fresh mint. Cut into quarters and serve immediately.