Middle Eastern Beet and Lamb Pizzas

beetlamb_pizza

Make these personal pizzas for lunch or a light dinner. Or cut them into thin slices and serve them as finger food. photo credit: Nancy Duran

I’ve made variations of this lamb pizza for years now. It’s inspired by the exotic flavors of the Middle East that I came to know and love when I lived in, wait for it… Brooklyn, NY. I’d spend my carefree weekends exploring the many Middle Eastern groceries and restaurants along Atlantic Avenue and farther beyond. (That’s right, I had no kids at the time.) This type of lamb pizza was one of my favorite treats.

While I normally balance the cumin scented, grassy flavor of the lamb topping by stirring in golden raisins or craisins, in this version, I’ve turned to roasted beets. The sugary, earthy flavor of this winter stalwart brings just the right amount of sweetness to keep all the flavors in harmony with each other.

These pizzas are lovely at lunchtime or served with a green salad for dinner. Or if you are having guests over, you can slice them up and serve them as hors d’oeuvres.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing the pita
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3/4 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
4 x 8-inch round whole wheat pitas
1/2 cup packaged hummus
1/2 large roasted and peeled beet, sliced thinly
1/4 cup crumbled feta
Greek yogurt, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, until fragrant. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the lamb, and cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, until the meat is no longer pink.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the cumin, cinnamon, and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour in 1/4 cup of water. Cook, uncovered, until the water has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pine nuts and mint.
  4. Meanwhile, brush one side of the pitas all over with olive oil. Place in the oven, directly on the oven rack. Bake for about 5 minutes, until crisped and lightly browned.
  5. To assemble the pizzas, spread each pita with 2 tablespoons of the hummus, top with 1/4 of the meat mixture and 1/4 of the beet slices. Sprinkle over 1 tablespoon of the feta. Bake in the oven for about 2 minutes, until all the ingredients are warmed. Serve with dollops of yogurt.

Nutritional analysis based on 4 servings (does not include salt and pepper to taste or yogurt for serving):
Calories 599, Fat 36g, Sodium 686mg, Carbohydrate 47g, Fiber 8g, Sugar 4g, Protein 26g

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