In calculus class we’ve been reviewing the “power rule” for finding the derivatives of polynomial functions. After completing an entry in my calculus journal—yes, really, a calculus journal—I thought about what I consider to be the power rule for my kitchen. To me, a culinary power rule is a shortcut, often using a pantry ingredient, which can be used to create something delicious at a moment’s notice. Some people always have popcorn kernels for movie nights, others have sharp cheeses to go alongside dried fruits and crackers to make a quick cheese tray for impromptu parties, and others still have chocolate chip cookie dough in the freezer for freshly baked cookies in dire situations. My favorite power rule is to make sure to always have pizza dough in the freezer. Whenever we have pizza for dinner, I make a large batch of dough, and once it’s risen, portion it out into 8 oz. balls, then wrap them in foil and stick them in the freezer. When left to defrost on the counter for about 8 hours, they rise normally and are ready for pizza, rolls, breadsticks, or flatbreads. (Sometimes—okay, most of the time, I defrost the dough on low power in the microwave. I’ve found that the finished product does not suffer from the quick thawing time.) Once the dough is ready, flatbreads are the fastest recipe to make with the dough; in minutes you can have a chewy, lightly charred bread that holds up well to dips such as hummus and is a great accompaniment to curries. With frozen pizza dough, I know that there is always something to make for dinner.
This time, I rubbed the finished flatbreads with a cut garlic clove and brushed them with olive oil to fit the flavor profile of this smoked white bean hummus. The hummus came together in about 4 minutes and has a much fresher flavor than the store-bought brands. All it takes is some white beans, garlic, olive oil, tahini, lemon, and smoked sea salt. The smoky flavor is an unexpected twist on hummus, compared to the usual roasted garlic or red pepper varieties we normally see in the refrigerated aisle.
If you keep some pizza dough in the freezer and some beans in the pantry, you can have a party-worthy appetizer in less time than it takes to get a pizza delivered, thanks to those powerful ingredients. I made this last week after an evening run and in twenty minutes had this dish completed and was taking some quick pictures before running off to our neighborhood dinner. Not even ten minutes after I placed the plate on the patio table, the flatbreads had been devoured and the remaining hummus was being scooped up with cucumber slices.
Looking for some more ways to use frozen pizza dough? Try some Carrot-Walnut Pizza, Grape Ricotta Pizza, or Pesto-Stuffed Flatbreads. All out of smoked salt? Serve these flatbreads alongside my White Bean Spread with Sundried Tomatoes and Basil.
Smoked White Bean Hummus
Makes about 2 ½ cups
1, 15 oz. can white beans (Great Northern, Cannellini, or Navy), drained and rinsed
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon smoked coarse salt, plus extra to serve
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to serve
Smoked paprika, to serve
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the white beans, garlic, and salt, then process until pureed. Scrape down the sides and combine the lemon juice and water in a small bowl. With the machine running, drizzle in the lemon juice mixture until a smooth puree forms. Scrape down the sides again. Mix the tahini and olive oil in another small bowl and slowly add it to the running food processor until a creamy emulsion has formed, 30-60 seconds. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Serve with the garlic flatbread (recipe follows).
Note: This hummus will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If you would like to make a traditional garbanzo bean hummus, substitute an equal amount of garbanzo beans for the white beans.
Adapted from my Pesto-Stuffed Flatbreads
Makes 4 flatbreads
3/8 cup warm water (about 100F)
½ teaspoon active dry yeast
½ teaspoon sugar
½ tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing finished flatbreads
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour (If you want to make these with whole wheat flour, use 2/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup whole wheat flour.)
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
For the flat-bread dough:
- Place the water, yeast, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl or in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let sit until the yeast has begun to foam, about 5 minutes. Mix to recombine.
- Add in the salt and flour, and slow mix (low speed if using a standing mixer) until all the flour is incorporated. If using a mixer, increase the speed to medium and knead for 8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and glossy and springs back easily when pinched. If mixing by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth, glossy and springy.
- Return the dough to the original bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let rise until almost doubled in size, 45-60 minutes. At this point, you can freeze the dough, wrapped in foil for up to 3 months, or you can proceed with the remainder of the recipe.
To cook the flatbreads:
- Once the dough has fully risen, turn it out onto a floured surface and divide it into 4 equal pieces. Taking one piece of dough at a time, roll it out to a circle 6-8 inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
- To cook, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat for 5 minutes until very hot. Gently lay one flatbread in the pan and brush it with water, then cover, letting it cook for 2 minutes until golden brown. Flip the flatbread, letting it cook covered for another 2 minutes until golden brown on the bottom.
- Remove the cooked flatbread from the pan, rub with the cut garlic clove, brush with olive oil, and cut into wedges. Serve immediately with the smoked white bean hummus