Lahmacun–Turkish Pizza–with Chopped Salad and Herb Tahini Recipe

Two years ago, my husband and I went on a food tour across Istanbul, and our guide was boasting about lahmacun, Turkish-style pizza, and how we can’t leave Turkey without trying it.

I remember watching the Turks walk around the cobbled old streets, bustling from the street food vendors with lahmacun in hand. Rolled up tightly and easy to eat on the go, it kind of looks like a burrito from afar. As tradition states, lahmacun is most commonly eaten with a sampling of toppings, including sliced raw onion, fresh herbs and a healthy splash of squeezed lemon.

Lahmacun vert

Well, I’m sorry to say we never did try it in Istanbul, but I hope the locals appreciate my humble take on lahmacun. I have to admit, I decided to modernize the recipe a bit. Instead of flatbread dough made from scratch, I took a simpler approach and used already store-bought pizza dough, which worked beautifully! And to add a bit more texture and contrast, my modern lahmacun is generously topped with chopped salad, a bright herb tahini dressing and an extra pinch of sumac and spicy red pepper. Because there is no such thing as too much spice, am I right?

Ingredients

½  lb pizza dough, at room temperature

¾ lb   ground beef or lamb (or mixture of both)

1 tsp turmeric

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp sumac

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried mint

Pinch of cayenne

1 tomato, roughly chopped and seeds removed

1 shallot, roughly chopped

Small bunch of fresh parsley and cilantro

1 bell pepper

2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the chopped salad:

2 Persian cucumbers, peeled

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

a few fresh mint leaves, chopped

the juice of 1 lemon

Olive oil, for drizzling

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the herb tahini dressing:

½ cup tahini

Small bunch of fresh parsley and cilantro

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

½ tsp cumin

Pinch of cayenne (optional)

1 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper, to taste

Water, for thinning out dressing

Additional toppings:

Sliced onion

Sumac

Lemon wedges

Directions

First make the chopped salad. Chop tomato and cucumber to ½ inch pieces and add to bowl.  The add chopped mint, olive oil and spices and toss together.  Set aside.

To make the tahini herb dressing, add everything except the water to a food processor and pulse to combine. Then add about ¼ cup of water to thin out consistency. It should be the same thickness as syrup and be pourable. Continue blending until everything is smooth and add more water if necessary. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

To make the lahmacun, in a large bowl, add the chopped meat and spices and mix together well. Then in a food processor, add the tomato, bell pepper, shallot, garlic and herbs and pulse until blended well and it looks like a “salsa”. Remove and drain any excess moisture. Add the tomato mixture to the meat and mix well to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Next, divide pizza dough into 4 equal pieces, about 2 ounces each and roll out on a very floured surface with a rolling pin. Roll dough as thin as you can, or to about 8-9 inches in diameter.

Then take some of the meat mixture and use your hands to gently press the meat mixture evenly into the dough, leaving a shallow border.

The beautiful thing about this dish is that you can either bake it in the oven, or cook it on the stovetop.

To bake: Place lahmacun on baking sheet or pizza stone and bake at 450 degrees F for about 5-7 minutes or until meat and dough is fully cooked.

On the stovetop: Pre-heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Place lahmacun in skillet and cover with a lid. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the meat mixture and dough is cooked through.

Once done, top with chopped salad, sliced onions, herb tahini dressing and serve with additional sumac and lemon wedges.

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