Mediterranean Flatbreads | Oldways (2024)

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As Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford wrote in their award-winning book, Flatbreads and Flavors, “Flatbreads are the world’s oldest breads. People have been making them for well more than six thousand years. And over that time, the tradition of making flatbreads has not been confined to one or two regions of the world, but has developed simultaneously almost everywhere there is a perennial supply of grain, from Mesopotamia and Persia to southern India and Armenia from antique Rome and preconquest Mexico to modern-day China and Italy.”

Flatbread can be made from any number of grains, such as wheat, rye, corn, oats, millet, teff, buckwheat, etc. or legumes, for example, chickpeas, beans, or lentils. Up until the late 19th century when industrial roller milling became common, most Mediterranean flatbreads were traditionally made with whole grain flours, containing all of the nutritious components of the grain. Flatbread can be prepared in numerous manners, such asoven-baked, skillet-baked, grilled, fried or even steamed. All that is to say that flatbreads play an important role in culinary traditions and are enjoyed around the globe, including many parts of the Mediterranean.

Mediterranean Flatbreads | Oldways (2)

At its most basic, bread (including flatbread) is nothing more than flour and water. Yeast also plays an important role, magically transforming the dough by feeding on its sugars and converting them to carbon dioxide and small amounts of alcohol, a process better known as fermentation. Carbon dioxide causes dough to rise. As the bread bakes in the oven, the carbon dioxide expands in the heat, enlarging all the little air pockets by stretching the gluten, resulting in a light and airy dough.

Of course, we can’t talk about flatbread without mentioning pizza, one of the world’s most beloved and popular foods. The birthplace of pizza can be traced back to Naples, Italy. The working people of Naples (Neapolitans) invented pizza as a quick, inexpensive meal sold by street vendors, who utilized ingredients that were native to the area, namely tomatoes, cheese, olive oil, anchovies, and garlic. Legend has it that in 1889, a local Neapolitan pizza maker created a pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent the Italian flag to impress King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. The queen liked it so much that the pizza was thereafter known as pizza Margherita – or so the story goes. Many regions of Italy developed their own style of pizza, from Roman to Sicilian, and as immigrants brought their food to the new world, many iterations of pizza came to be. Flatbreads like pizza are a great vessel for seasonal vegetables and other nutritious toppings.

A close cousin of pizza is focaccia, a flatbread that is historically prepared on the hearth, often in a skillet covered with embers; although, today most focaccia is baked in the oven. The main difference between pizza and focaccia is that while pizza is all about the toppings, focaccia is all about developing the flavor of the dough.

In the eastern Mediterranean, including Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Israel, you’ll find a tasty flatbread known as Lahmacun. This is a thin, crispy yeasted flatbread, typically topped with spiced lamb and tomatoes. Pide is an oval, boat-shaped Turkish flatbread made with a leavened dough, similar to pizza and sometimes referred to as “Turkish pizza.”It can be stuffed with anything from meat, cheese, or vegetables (such as eggplant, tomatoes, and feta).

Spinach Lamejun with halloumi and labne

Pita is another familiar flatbread found throughout the Mediterranean. In Egypt, the local pita called baladiis traditionally made with 100% whole wheat flour. And in the US, it’s easy to find whole grain pita bread (with the Whole Grain Stamp) in grocery stores. Pita is the bread of choice for the widely popular falafel sandwich. When dried-out and toasted, pita adds crunch to the Lebanese tomato-cucumber salad known as fattoush.

Laffa is pita’s pocketless cousin; it’s an Iraqi flatbread, also popular in Israel, that’s cooked in a taboon, a tandoor-like clay oven, and sometimes referred to as taboon bread. It’s thicker and softer than pita bread. Then there’s man’oushe, a popular Lebanese flatbread, slathered with a mixture of olive oil and za’atar, an herbaceous seasoning blend of dried thyme, tart sumac and nutty sesame seeds.

So, let’s gather around the table, break bread –or in this case, flatbread – share a nourishing meal, and connect with one another.

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Daisy Metello

March 08, 2019

Adorei a matéria!!!! Sou apaixonada pela alimentação estilo mediterrânea!!!

  • reply

Jean Marie Pearce

March 10, 2019

Hi, Did Fresh Fridays not come out this week? I really like your info.Thanks, Jean Pearce, Hartfield, Va.

  • reply


March 11, 2019

Thanks, Jean! Fresh Fridays comes out every two weeks. Stay tuned for a new post later this week!

  • reply

Louella Maloney

March 14, 2019

Great stuff

  • reply

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Mediterranean Flatbreads | Oldways (2024)


How do you cook Costco Mediterranean flatbread in the air fryer? ›

Simply preheat your air fryer to 350 degrees. Remove the flatbread from it's packaging and place it into the preheated air fryer. Let it cook for eight minutes or until it's hot and crispy. That's it!

What is Mediterranean flatbread called? ›

Pita. Pita is a type of slightly leavened flatbread native to the Mediterranean region. These soft, round breads often form a large interior pocket of hot air when exposed to the high temperatures during cooking.

What bread is ok on a Mediterranean diet? ›

Any bread that is made from whole wheat, whole grains, sprouts, and sourdough is recommended while on a Mediterranean diet. You will want to avoid bread made from refined grains, such as white bread if you are following this diet.

Are flatbreads healthier than bread? ›

Pita is a flatbread whereas bread comes in loaves. Despite their difference in shape, pita and bread have similar ingredients - largely water, yeast, flour, and salt. Because of the similarity in ingredients, the nutrient profiles of pita and normal bread are basically identical.

Can you bake flatbread instead of frying? ›

Bake in the oven: Cooking the flatbread in a skillet allows you to add some oil, which makes them a little softer. That said, you can bake these in the oven. We recommend a 400°F oven. Bake them until puffed and starting to brown about 10 minutes.

Why is butter not allowed on Mediterranean diet? ›

The diet limits the intake of red meat, high-fat dairy products, and foods that are high in saturated fat, such as butter and cream. Avoiding processed foods can improve your overall health. It will also reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

What can I use instead of butter on toast on the Mediterranean diet? ›

Brozek recommends substituting both butter and margarine with olive oil or canola oil whenever possible. This falls more in line with a Mediterranean diet, which is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats have been proven to be the best types of fats.

What kind of butter can you have on the Mediterranean diet? ›

Avoid peanut, safflower, corn and soybean oils. You can also use avocado oil, which can withstand higher temperatures than olive oil. Eliminate margarine; avoid butter, but if you do use it, opt for a high quality butter made from grass-fed milk, such as Kerrygold. Eat a handful of nuts every day.

Is pita bread ok on a Mediterranean diet? ›

You Can Have Bread

Look for a loaf made with whole grains. It's got more protein and minerals and is generally healthier than the white flour kind. Try whole-grain pita bread dipped in olive oil, hummus, or tahini (a protein-rich paste made from ground sesame seeds).

Which is healthier, pita or naan? ›

Both have comparable amounts of sugar ( 2 , 9 ). With naan, you get more carbs, but also much more protein and fiber, both essential in keeping you feeling full while maintaining a healthy weight. On the other hand, naan contains about 80% more carbs and roughly 200% more protein than a 45-gram serving of pita.

Are bagels healthier than bread? ›

On average, a medium-sized bagel contains 190 calories, 9 grams of protein, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of fat. In contrast, a slice of white bread contains 67 calories, 2 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of fat.

How long to heat up flatbread in air fryer? ›

This will take about 3 – 4 minutes. Once they have puffed up, remove with tongs, and add the next one. Keep the flatbread, and pitas warm by placing them in a thick tea towel. Serve them with my very delicious Air Fryer Greek chicken kebabs.

Can you air fry frozen flatbread pizza? ›

Yes, I recommend preheating your air fryer to allow the frozen pizza to get crispy on the outside and fully cooked and hot on the inside. Think of your air fryer like a mini oven. You always preheat it before placing food in and with an air fryer, you should do the same.

Can you heat pita bread in air fryer? ›

Place one or two slices of pita into the basket and avoid the temptation of overcrowding your air-fryer, as this facilitates inconsistent warmth and texture. The entire process shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes, and flipping the bread halfway through will ensure that both sides are warmed to perfection.

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