The Daring Kitchen April Cooks’ Challenge: Whole Wheat Flatbread with Grilled Eggplant, Goat Cheese Ricotta, Sundried Tomatoes and Maple-Chili Pistachios

This was the Daring Kitchen challenge that almost didn’t happen. After a few weeks of thinking, toying with ideas and brainstorming, the challenge got put on hold and then was quickly buried under a sea of other priorities. When I finally got around to making a grocery list and buying ingredients, my oven promptly decided that it was no longer participating in my kitchen adventures 😦

I thought about changing direction and doing something else, but my heart had been set on making a flatbread. I went as far as to contemplate doing the flatbread in a cast-iron pan on top of the stove (the stovetop was still working) and using a mini-blowtorch to char the top of it.

“Daisy,” Laura said, “I think that’s a bad idea.”

I even went out and bought pressurized butane despite having doubts that my newly acquired mini-torch — meant for itty bitty crèmes brûlées — would probably melt or malfunction if used on something as big as a 12 or 14-inch pizza . . .

“Daisy. It’s just a bad idea.”


Thankfully, my oven got fixed a lot sooner than anticipated — which just goes to show that you can get anything fixed in this town so long as you utter three magic words:

I smell gas . . .

I thought that was pretty smart of me 😉

Once the oven was fixed, I was back on track, though given the chance, I would have tinkered with the recipe more before posting. To make up for how rough the recipe is, I have written the recipe based what I would do it if I were to make it again — like use a lot more eggplant!

Also, I would suggest that you tinker a little bit with your cooking times and temperatures as it appears that when they fixed my oven, they also re-calibrated it so that it seems to run hotter that it did before.

This month, David and Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking challenged us to come up with our own recipes using the three lists of challenge ingredients. The recipe must include at least one item from each list, and if we fail, we must order a pizza.

The challenge lists were:

List 1: Parsnips, Eggplant, Cauliflower
List 2: Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipotle Pepper
List 3: Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas

When I first saw the challenge, I was thinking of a balsamic, instant coffee and maple syrup-glazed steak on top of a parsnip-goat cheese purée.

Then I thought about using the eggplant and cauliflower to make a vegetarian chili with chipotle peppers and instant coffee.

Then I thought that it would be fun to try to challenge myself to make the most inedible dish possible. Some kind of cauliflower-instant coffee banana cream pie, or a banana-chipotle baba ghanoush, but I felt like that might be a violation of the challenge’s good spirit.

To save me from myself, I threw the idea out to amazing Heather over at Ruby and Wheaky (one of my favorite blogs and one of my favorite bloggers — do check her site out when you get the chance! She is a phenomenal writer). She suggested a “maple syrup and chipotle-glazed cauliflower dish,” “an instant coffee dusted baked/fried eggplant dish with a goat cheese topping,” “an eggplant, goat cheese sandwich with a side dish of coffee-infused banana chips,” or “a crazy sort of eggplant, goat cheese pizza topped with maple- glazed pistachio nuts.”

As you can see, her ideas were way better than mine!

A giant thank you to David and Karen for the great challenge! I had a ton of fun dreaming up different recipes. Your challenge made me feel like an Iron Chef!

Blog-checking lines:
Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients!


For the flatbread:

1 packet of active, dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teapoons)

1 cup of lukewarm water (between 105°-115°)

1 teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cups of bread or all-purpose flour

1 cup of whole wheat flour

For the toppings:

2 medium eggplants or one large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices

Olive oil

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes, cut into thin strips

6 ounces of goat milk ricotta (or another kind of soft and crumbly goat cheese)

1/3 of a cup of shelled pistachios

1 teaspoon of maple sugar (or one tablespoon of maple syrup)

1/4 teaspoon of chipotle pepper powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

How to prepare:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast and the warm water. Let the yeast bloom undisturbed for about 10 minutes.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the two flours together. Once the yeast has bloomed, add the salt and two tablespoons of olive oil. Stir in the flour, a little bit at a time, with a wooden spoon until it has all been incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured countertop and knead it for about 6-8 minutes until the dough is soft and satiny. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise until it has doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

3. In the meanwhile, prepare the eggplant. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Let sit for a minute or two to let the salt dissolve. Whisk in about four tablespoons of olive oil. Brush both sides of each eggplant slice with the balsamic-olive oil mixture.

4. Brush a grill pan lightly with olive oil and heat it over medium-high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, lay a few slices of eggplant on the grill. Grill the slices for a minute or two on each side. If you want, you can give the slices a quarter turn on the grill so that they have some nice grill marks. Remove the slices to a plate as you finish them.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, toss the shelled pistachios with the maple sugar or maple syrup, the chipotle pepper powder and a drizzle of olive oil until they are evenly coated. Toast the nuts for no more than 5 minutes, checking them frequently to make sure that they don’t burn. Remove the nuts from the oven and let them cool before roughly chopping them.

6. Turn the oven up to 425°. Punch the risen dough down and stretch it out to cover the bottom of a half-sheet pan. Lightly brush the surface with olive oil and evenly arrange the grilled eggplant slices over the top. Scatter the sun-dried tomatoes and the goat cheese evenly over the eggplant. Bake the flatbread in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. The dough should be crisp and the edges should be browned. Remove it from the oven and scatter the chopped pistachios over the top. Drizzle the flatbread with olive oil and cut into squares to serve.


18 thoughts on “The Daring Kitchen April Cooks’ Challenge: Whole Wheat Flatbread with Grilled Eggplant, Goat Cheese Ricotta, Sundried Tomatoes and Maple-Chili Pistachios

    • baconbiscuit212

      Thanks, Lior!

      Yes, my management company said that they were going to send someone Monday (maybe), until I told them I smelled gas. Then they said someone was coming over right away!

  1. Desi Chick

    Good one, with the smelling of gas I mean! The recipe looks amazing. I love the combination of maple with pistacios and the heat with it to balance it out. I am also impressed with the perfect grill marks on the egg plants, almost too beautiful to eat….almost!

    • baconbiscuit212

      Thanks! I have to thank Heather at Ruby and Wheaky for the genius suggestion of the pistachios. The nuts actually went really well with everything. I just wished I had more eggplant to grill! It shrank a lot! But I guess it is mostly water . . .

  2. rubyandwheaky

    Oh Daisy! I think it looks totally fabulous! Considering how unconventional the ingredients are everything looks yummy. I like the addition of a little bit of whole wheat flour. I bet it adds another dimension to the dish. I’m so glad your oven is fixed. Can the nuts be eaten on their own? Would they make a good snack dish at a party? Thanks for bringing my wacky vision to life! 🙂

    • baconbiscuit212

      Awww! You’re so great! I really have to thank you for letting me run away with your idea! The flatbread was really good, and the pistachios were great. I could totally see them as party snack nuts!

      I just wish I used more eggplant. It looked like it was going to be enough, until I grilled it. Next time!

      And thanks again for helping me 🙂

  3. tanyamhudson

    Hey! I finally got around to reading this! Love the sweet/salty/spicy combo with the maple, cheese, and chipotle. And pistachios are hands-down my favorite nut! I’m actually out right now and a bit distraught about it… Anyway, this bread looks gorgeous, and I’m sure it was delicious!

  4. David

    Glad you were able to get your oven fixed! I’ll have to remember those magic words. Except, we don’t have a gas oven…

    I do really like the look of your flatbread — some of your other ideas also sound great, hopefully you’ll get a chance to try some of them out in the future!

  5. baconbiscuit212

    Thank you, David! I am glad that my oven is back in working order as well.

    Thanks as well for the nice comments about the flatbread. I hope that I get the chance later this spring to play around more with the other ideas that I had! What a great challenge you guys cooked up! I absolutely loved the idea and how playful it was. Really a lot of fun!

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