By Kelsey Casselbury 2017-01-05 03:59:21
WHEN YOU THINK OF A “FLATBREAD,” THE FIRST DISH THAT COMES TO MIND IS PROBABLY THE SPECIALTY PIZZAS that appear on so many restaurant menus today. They’re awfully trendy now, aren’t they? The truth is that the realm of flatbreads expands far beyond the appetizer or pizza categories, with a history stretching back to the earliest civilizations on Earth. Although pizza dough is a kind of flatbread, it’s certainly not the only kind—Wikipedia lists nearly 100 varieties, some of which you’ve likely heard of but may not have considered in the same breath as the trendy flatbread. These include, just to name a few, pita, naan, matzo, lavash, focaccia and tortillas. Tortillas? Yes, tortillas! This Mexican food staple, whether corn or flour, whole-grain or enriched, is a type of flatbread. At its core, a flatbread is simply a bread made with flour or another grain, water and salt and then rolled into a flattened dough. In most cases, the characteristic that distinguishes traditional flat-breads is that they are made without yeast, which means they’re unleavened. There are a few varieties, though—traditional pizza dough and pita bread come to mind—that do add a bit of yeast and are just slightly leavened. A Global Tour Don’t worry—we won’t subject you to a primer on all 98 types of flatbreads. However, we invite you to take a look at some of the most recognizable varieties, and explore what you can do with them, at home or, if they meet that erstwhile combination of nutrition standards and student taste preference, in the school kitchen. Let’s begin by heading to the other side of the globe, to the Indian subcontinent, where roti (also known as chapati) is consumed widely in Bangladesh, Nepal, Singapore, Malaysia and India, among other South Asian countries. In some cases, roti is the standard name for all types of breads, while other places use the name to refer specifically to an unleavened bread made with wheat flour and cooked on a flat iron griddle called a tawa. It’s a standard accompaniment to such dishes as cooked vegetables and curries. Roti differs from naan, another classic flatbread in this region. Naan is also made with wheat flour, but typically has a bit of yeast and yogurt added in to give it just a slight lift—though it’s then flattened and baked in a tandoor, a clay pot that is also used in the preparation of other Indian classics like Tandoori chicken. Your experience with naan probably involves sopping up leftover curry sauces with it at Indian restaurants, but it also serves as a wrap, a pizza crust or even as a replacement for traditional hamburger buns. Heading slightly west, we visit Armenia and nearby nations, where we’ll find widespread use of lavash, a wheat flatbread that’s similar to naan in that it’s also cooked in a tandoor. It makes an excellent flatbread sandwich, and it’s very soft and pliable when cooled—but, be careful, as it gets very brittle when left out too long! Lavash is so important to Armenia that, in 2014, the bread and its preparation, meaning and appearance were included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. From there, let’s talk matzo (also known as matzah), a flatbread with which anyone of Jewish faith or familiar with Jewish traditions—knows well. Matzo, made with either wheat, spelt, barley, rye or oat, is an integral part of Passover, the Jewish holiday that celebrates Israelities’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. When they left Egypt, they had no time to wait for bread to rise; ergo, they ate flatbread. Commercially available matzo is likely cracker-like, but a piece of homemade matzo is much like a tortilla. Either type can be made kosher, with certain preparation steps that comply with Jewish law. In Greece and other Mediterranean countries you’ll find a flatbread that you’re surely familiar with: pita, distinctive by its hollow inner pocket. This is the perfect place to stuff sandwich fillings or to scoop up hummus—plus, you can slice it and bake the pieces for fresh pita chips. It’s very different than foccacia, Italy’s favorite flatbread, which has a similarity to pizza dough (though mostly square rather than round) but often seasoned with olive oil, salt and herbs. Unlike other flatbreads, focaccia contains a bit of yeast—but only to be able to absorb the olive oil, which unleavened bread cannot do. Finally, we’ll hop over to North America, where the delicious, indulgent frybread originated in the Navajo tribe. While some recipes—such as the ones you might find at state fairs or pow-wows—use a bit of leaven- ing, the traditional variety does not, as yeast wasn’t available when the recipe was first developed. Frybread is often used as a type of taco shell, although it’s also topped with sweet ingredients, such as honey or jam, and eaten as a treat. Remember, this list doesn’t encompass all types of flatbreads—we left off bannock from Scotland, lefse of Norway, taftan from Iran and johnnycake of eastern United States and Caribbean, among a whole host of others. There are so many varieties to explore, you could spend months trying them all! Let’s Talk Tortillas We need to return to the humble tortilla. Humble, yes, but vital to so many dishes from Mexico and Latin America. Broadly speaking, there are two types of tortillas: corn and flour. Within each are many subcategories. The corn tortilla—whether white or yellow—predates its cousin, the flour tortilla (white or wheat), by quite a few years. After all, wheat wasn’t grown in the Americas before the Europeans arrived, but maize has long been a crop in Mexico, before spreading south and north. The Aztecs supposedly ate two or three corn tortillas with every single meal, whether alone or filled with a protein or vegetable such as squash. As you might expect, yellow tortillas are made with yellow corn and white tortillas are made with white corn, with the latter considered slightly less flavorful and a little bit lighter. Corn tortillas are typically smaller than the flour variety, but quite a bit more fragile. As previously noted, corn tortillas are a staple in Latin American cuisine, appearing as a key component in a variety of dishes, such as enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, taquitos, chilaquiles and more. Flour tortillas, on the other hand, are traditionally used primarily for burritos. In Americanized versions of many traditional dishes, though, flour tortillas have grown more acceptable for enchiladas, quesadillas and the like. Of course, when you use flour tortillas in a school kitchen, you’ll need to get your students more comfortable with a whole-wheat version. To make them a bit more acceptable, consider adding salsa, guacamole or sauteed vegetables, as the moistness of these ingredients can help reduce the less-familiar (and sometimes initially less-palatable) whole-wheat flavor. In the Cafeteria Let’s delve a little deeper into the use of flatbreads and tortillas in school menus. Many of you had legitimate concerns about how your students would adjust to changes in grains requirements, particularly as they affected such products as tortillas. Now that we’re two full school-year cycles into the implementation of these federal rules, is acceptability still a problem? As with so many other aspects of K-12 school meals, the answer varies from district to district. “We have not had good acceptance of wholegrain flour tortillas or wraps,” reports Sally Spero, child nutrition director, Lakeside (Calif.) Union School District. “Lakeside is only about 15 miles from the Mexican border, and even students who are not of Mexican descent have pretty high exposure to regular flour tortillas and find the whole-grain ones off-putting.” She goes on to explain that there are cultural factors at play here—noting a folk saying about how bad a mother is if she serves cold tortillas to her children. “I received a number of parent complaints about this,” says Spero. Lakeside has, however, found success with tacos made with small, soft corn tortillas, which are easily available and accepted in a wholegrain form. The school nutrition team fills the tacos—two to a tray—with a protein, such as pork carnitas, carne asada or chicken tinga, and allows students to select their own toppings via a salad bar. In the Palm Springs (Calif.) Unified School District, Central Kitchen Supervisor Missy Poirer has had to experiment with the types of tortillas and flatbreads her department menus. The 100% whole-grain tortillas, the students said, had a “wheaty” aftertaste. When she switched to a 60% whole-grain tortilla, acceptability increased. “We make a variety of cold wraps—ham and cheese, turkey and cheese, Southwest chicken, chicken and bacon,” she notes. “The Chicken Caesar is by far the favorite.” As for other flatbreads, Poirer serves lavash, which has been successful in both elementary and secondary locations, she reports. While products such as lavash are availability commercially, most school nutrition operations are more likely to specify and purchase generic flatbreads for school meals. There are a number of companies that offer these. Remember, most flatbreads can be described with a single, basic definition: a baked, thin, flexible bread-like product, made from wheat or corn, that can be used for a multitude of menu ideas. These products can have great flexibility that allow school chefs to capitalize on hot trends. In Rochester, Minn., District Chef Travis Pearce finds that some of the most popular flatbread recipes are gyros and individual pizzas, while successful tortilla recipes include pork street tacos made with fresh pico de gallo and guacamole (served on two 6-in. tortillas). Pearce also cites a popular Asian chicken wrap on a 9-in. tortilla (which credits as two full grains) and a crispy chicken wrap on an 8-in. tortilla, which also counts as two grains, since the chicken’s breading credits, too. He also makes a taco out of a prepared flatbread, using a half-piece of the bread, and filling it with taco meat, cheddar cheese, sour cream and salsa. “It’s kind of a mix between a gordita and a quesadilla,” Pearce explains, and he serves it in elementary schools, as he doesn’t need to credit two full grains at that level. Pearce’s trick: If you have to fold the tortilla or flatbread, warm it up first. “We usually just toss them in a hotbox for 15 minutes or so, and they work just fine,” he notes. “The wheat makes them less pliable when they are cool or even room temperature.” Falling Flat Though many traditional flatbreads don’t have a place in school kitchens, due to their traditional use of refined white flour, they’re certainly worth exploring on your own—and the retail market continues to introduce whole-wheat varieties of these, too. Be bold and creative. Use these breads as a canvas for toppings or a pocket for fillings. Keep your eye on commercial restaurants, which continue to add new concoctions to their menus. In culinary circles, the world is flat! Flatbreads—including tortillas—have a long culinary history, but their recent popularity rise has prompted chefs to discover new ways to elevate them on menus. Thai Chili Turkey Taco 10 lbs. Cooked turkey, pulled thighs 62 Whole-grain tortillas, 8-in. 2 lbs., 6 ozs. Green cabbage, finely shredded 3 ¾ cups, 2 Tbsps. Thai-style chili sauce* 1 lb., 4 ozs. White onion, diced 3 ¾ cups, 2 Tbsps. Fresh cilantro, chopped SERVINGS 62 (1 taco) PER SERVING 254 cal., 14 g pro., 7.6 g fat, 29 g carb., 4 g fiber, 558 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 2.5-oz.-eq. meat/meal alternate, 1.5-oz.-eq. grains, 1⁄4 cup other vegetable 1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. 2) Place the turkey thigh meat in a pan. Break the meat apart into chunks and distribute to form a single layer. 3) Bake the turkey meat for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the meat begins to brown slightly on the surface. Remove from the oven and hold at 135°F. 4) To assemble the tacos: Place a warmed, whole-grain tortilla onto the prep area. Spread 1⁄2 cup of the green cabbage across the center of the tortilla. 5) Place 2.5 ozs. of the pulled turkey thigh meat on top of the cabbage. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. chili sauce and top with 1 Tbsp. each of the diced white onion and chopped cilantro. *Note: Kikkoman Thai Style Chili Sauce can be used in this recipe. Recipe, Photo and Nutritional Analysis: Kikkoman, www.kikkomanusa.com Meal Pattern Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com • This is an interesting twist on a hot trend. Street-style tacos are trending and the international Thai flair would be welcome, I think. • Our experience has shown us that it’s best to add flavor to the meat, especially commodity meats. So, we would recommend using additional chili sauce to coat the meat before heating it. • I would mix the chili sauce with the turkey and braise the meat in the oven. It would give it a more pronounced flavor throughout, keep the turkey from drying out and hold better. I’d also mix the cilantro with the diced onion—it would present better and save time. • For a district that pre-packages meals to be heated at each site, this recipe would be a challenge to serve as a hot dish—the cabbage, onions and cilantro would wilt during heating and holding. But as a cold dish, this would be awesome. I prepared it both hot and cold, and either way, the flavor was fantastic. Fiery Philly Steak Flatbread 40 Whole-grain flatbreads, 6”x6”, frozen 2.5 lbs. Beef steak, reduced-sodium, seasoned, prepared 5 cups Red and green bell peppers, sliced 5 cups Onions, sliced 20 ozs. Alfredo sauce, prepared 4 ozs. Sriracha sauce 10 ozs. Mozzarella cheese, lowfat, shredded 10 ozs. Cheddar cheese, shredded SERVINGS 40 (1 flatbread) PER SERVING 340 cal., 20 g pro., 11 g fat, 47 g carb., 11g fiber, 670 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. grains, 1⁄4 cup other vegetables 1) Remove flatbreads from the freezer and place at room temperature to thaw. 2) Thaw and heat the seasoned beef steak in an oven or griddle. Heat according to instructions on the packaging and hold at 140°F until you’re ready to assemble sandwiches. 3) Combine the Alfredo and Sriracha sauces and mix well for the “fiery” sauce. Set aside. 4) Preheat the oven to 350°F. 5) To assemble one sandwich: Combine 1 oz. beef steak, 1⁄8 cup sliced red and green peppers and 1⁄8 cup sliced onion. 6) Place one thawed flatbread on a lined sheet pan. Top with 1 oz. of the fiery sauce and spread evenly over the flatbread. 7) Place the beef steak and veggie mixture on each flatbread, keeping a small margin free around the edges. Top with 0.25- oz. each of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. 8) Heat the flatbread in the oven until the cheese is melted and the flatbread is warmed, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Keep open-faced. Sandwich may be wrapped in foil and held in a warmer for later service. *Notes: JTM Alfredo Sauce, JTM Reduced-Sodium Seasoned Beef Steak and JTM Sriracha Sauce, as well as Rich’s 6”x6” Whole-Grain Flatbread, can be used to prep this recipe. Recipe, Photo and Meal Pattern and Nutritional Analysis: JTM, www.jtmfoodgroup.com • When we’ve offered fajitas in the past, we noticed that we had better numbers when keeping the peppers separate from the protein, because not all students took them. So, I would suggest roasting the peppers and offering them as a side instead of mixing them with the beef. • You may need to adjust the hot sauce level according to the taste preferences of your student population. • I would increase the vegetable portion with the addition of mushrooms, so it can credit for 1⁄2 cup other vegetables. • I would consider preparing the dish as a bowl item and serving the bread on the side. Vegetable Flatbread 3 qts., ½ cup Black olives, lowsodium, sliced* 6 lbs., 2 ozs. Fresh mushrooms, sliced 13 lbs. Roasted pepper and onion strips, frozen 100 Whole grain-rich flatbreads, prepared (2-oz.-eq.) 1 qt., 2 ¼ cups Olive oil 1⁄8 cup Dried oregano 1⁄8 cup Dried basil 1⁄8 cup Onion powder 1⁄8 cup Garlic powder 9 lbs., 6 ozs. Mozzarella cheese, lowfat, shredded 1 oz. Pan release spray SERVINGS 100 (1 6.4-oz. flatbread) PER SERVING 387 cal., 16 g pro., 20 g fat, 35 g carb., 5 g fiber, 753 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN 1.5-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. grains, ¼ cup other vegetable, ¼ cup additional vegetable 1) Prep eight sheet pans with parchment paper. Spray lightly with pan release. Thaw the roasted pepper and onion strips. 2) Combine the oregano, basil, onion powder and garlic powder and mix thoroughly. Brush each flatbread generously with olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning mix on the flatbread, using ½ tsp. for each. 3) Top each flatbread with 1⁄8 cup of sliced olives, using a #30 scoop. Add 1⁄8 cup fresh mushroom slices, using a 2-oz. spoodle. Add a 1⁄4 cup of the roasted pepper and onion strip mix, using a #16 scoop. Add 1 1⁄2 ozs. of shredded mozzarella, using a #10 scoop. 4) Bake in a preheated 350°F convection oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve open-faced or folded. Note: California Ripe Olives, Low-Sodium, can be used in this recipe. Recipe, Photo and Meal Pattern Analysis: The Mushroom Council, www.mushroomsinschools.com; California Ripe Olives, www.calolive.org Nutritional Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, www.evolution ofthelunchlady.com; nutritional analysis powered by Meals Plus • The seasonings mix seems to be light, only coming out to a half-cup, or 24 teaspoons. I think simply doubling the amounts would make enough. • During preparation, mix all the vegetables—it will lead to better coverage and presentation, as well as save time in preparation. • Thaw and drain the frozen peppers/onions thoroughly the night before, as they will leach out water and cause the flatbread to become soggy. Maybe roast the mushrooms beforehand and drain those, as well—under all of that cheese, they will most likely bleed out and make the flatbread soggy, too. • Generally, when I make pizzas, I put two-thirds of the cheese on the crust first, then add the other toppings and then finish with the last one-third of cheese. It gives the vegetables room to breathe and lets some of the moisture evaporate instead of leaking into the crust. • While I do not think that this recipe would be a huge hit with our general student body right away, I do believe that the 1% that is looking for a non-meat entrée would love this dish. Then, it could gain a following in the general population over time with the right marketing and exposure. • I prepared this recipe two ways: one hot and one cold. I sautéed all the veggies and seasoned them, instead of the bread, and wrapped them in lavash flatbread and heated them. As an alternative, I sliced all the veggies a little thinner and wrapped them in a lavash as a cold wrap and paired it using the Thai Sweet Chili sauce from the Turkey Taco recipe (page 73). Delicious! (Both ways!) Buffalo Kidney Bean-Chicken Tacos 4 Tbsps. Vegetable oil 4 cups Sweet onions, diced 2 tsps. Garlic, minced 4 tsps. Chipotle in adobo, minced 6 cups Tomatoes, canned, diced 6 cups Kidney beans, canned, drained 3 lbs. Roasted chicken, diced 24 Whole-grain tortillas,10-in. 6 cups Iceberg lettuce, shredded 3 cups Sour cream (optional) SERVINGS 24 PER SERVING 377 cal., 22 g pro., 9.5 g fat, 50 g carb., 9 g fiber, 655 mg sod MEAL PATTERN 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2.5-oz.-eq. grains, ¼ cup red orange, ¼ cup bean legume, ¼ cup other vegetable 1) Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. 2) Add the garlic and chipotle, and cook 2 minutes. 3) Add tomatoes. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. 4) Stir in beans and chicken. Heat through, about 4 minutes. 5) Warm the flour tortilla. 6) To assemble: Top one tortilla with 3⁄4 cup bean-chicken-veggies mixture, followed by ¼ cup lettuce and 2 Tbsps. sour cream, if desired. Roll and serve. *Notes: Adding sour cream will change the nutrition and meal pattern calculations. Other beans may be substituted, including pinto, black or garbanzo. Bush’s Best® Kidney Beans can be used in this recipe. Recipe and Photo: Bush’s Best, wwwbushbeansfoodservice.com Meal Pattern and Nutritional Analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, www.evolutionofthelunchlady.com; nutritional analysis powered by Meals Plus BONUS WEB CONTENT Food Focus How can you use flatbreads at breakfast? We’ve got at least one idea. Head to the web, to this month’s Bonus Web Content section, to check out a Breakfast Burger Quesadilla recipe that didn’t fit into our print edition. Visit www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazinebonus to access. Kelsey Casselbury is a contributing editor for School Nutrition, based in Odenton, Md. She is a former managing editor of the publication.
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