Inspired by both Indian and by Mexican thin flatbreads.
Okay, these lack tomato (though the recipe can be adapted easily, and although one of my favorite pizza slices at the pizzeria in Litchfield CT is a cheese/shrimp/broccoli one), no tomatoes on that, either.
I made two types based on what I had to hand… one of these unfortunately does contain gluten but the other does not. I came up with this concept when I went freezer diving for some good bakery bread that I thought was in there (but must have been eaten already) when I was in the mood for a good open faced melted cheese sandwich. I found, instead, “methi paratha”, an Indian flat bread of about the same consistency as soft shell taco bread. It worked. Methi is Hindi for fenugreek, an earthy seasoning I’ve truly grown to love. Additional spices in the bread are ginger, chili (yes, it has a little kick, but not overwhelming), and turmeric. I’ll note that the original paratha was far past its “best by” date, but I bought another pack this past month down at my favorite Indian grocery in Danbury, CT, for the current photo shoot. Fresh is decidedly better! Methi flavor came through on both, but on the newer paratha, all the other seasonings came in fully happy and proud.
The methi paratha does contain wheat (ie, gluten), so I decided to make a soft corn tortilla melt as well, for the gluten-free. I chose white, as I find the heavy corn taste of the yellow ones a little too much for some (not all) purposes.
Consider my prep of this dish to be Italian/Indian/Mexican… Fusion/confusion??? The one thing I regret was forgetting to buy scallions/green onions for the photos/write up meal (which worked great when I first tried my hand making this!) I’ve not yet tried adding meat or seafood to this dish, but that’s an option should you wish. I don’t find it necessary, and I am trying to avoid tasty but over processed stuff like pepperoni. Seriously, add anything you like, these are just ideas that worked for me.
You can slice your cheeses up, or shred them. I would not buy pre-shredded… marketers add what is essentially sawdust to them to keep them from clumping. Plus, they cost more for the privilege of adding stuff indigestible for humans in the cheese. No. Just, no.
Because I was going for a semi-pizza ambiance, I added oregano to both choices. One could very well add garlic, finely minced, to help add to that ambiance. Or perhaps just garlic powder? I put cilantro on the methi paratha selection, but one can also as easily add it to the corn soft tortilla selection.
Please have fun with this! Again, this recipe only covers what I did today, and I did do some testing with other ingredients earlier (most notably those scallions!)
Prep Time: Will vary but mine maybe took 15 minutes.
Cook Time: 9-11 minutes depending on how thick you slice cheese.
Rest Time: Not necessary.
Serves: I found that I need 3 corn tortillas or two parathas of the size shown here. One of each when I made this today.
Leftovers: Um, not really. Plan to eat what you make.
Vegetarian Pizza-Like Cheese Melts with Indian or Mexican Influences
NOTE: Play with this. These are guidelines that have created food I’ve enjoyed. There is no one right way. Indeed, what is in your fridge right now?
- 3 small white-corn soft tortillas per person. OR 2 Indian parathas per person. OR combine as you wish. Methi (fenugreek) paratha is optional, and may not be easily found.
- 3-4 white button mushrooms, sliced thin.
- a good handful of fresh spinach, watercress, or perhaps even nasturtium leaves (summer). A good flavor kick is good here.
- 1 or so ounces of mozzarella. Slice or shred it yourself.
- Around 3 ounces or maybe a little more of sharp cheddar cheese. Slice or shred it yourself.
- For the corn tortillas: sprinkle on ground ancho pepper, or if adventurous, chipotle pepper.
- For the paratha: sprinkle on cumin. If the paratha you’ve been able to find is without seasoning, consider dried methi/fenugreek leaf, perhaps some chili.
- To all: ground pepper, to taste.
- To all: garlic powder, to taste.
- To all: dried oregano, to taste.
- 1-2 green onions, diced. I dice the white parts thin, and let the green parts go out to perhaps a half an inch.
- Pitted olives, 3, sliced to 1/8 inch. (I check out the variety at my supermarket olive display case.)
- 1 or two pickled artichoke hearts, chopped coarsely.
- Fresh cilantro (coriander leaf) for garnish. I did forget to add it to the Mexican tortilla, but it works everywhere.
Lay out your paratha or your tortillas in your baking pan, and preheat the oven to 350 F / 177 C.
Add on mushrooms and any or all leafy greens.
Scatter the cheese around. Home-shredded is probably the best way to go, but I didn’t this occasion. In my case, since I am not crazy about pizza “bones”, I put the cheese out to the edge. I try to carpet bomb this dish with cheese, your mileage may differ. Cook accordingly.
Add the spices and seasonings. I used Mexican spices on the corn tortilla, and Indian spices on the paratha. If the paratha is unseasoned, add additional seasonings, including perhaps that methi! Dried leaf methi is really good. Ground pepper, garlic and oregano ended up on all. There is no need to add salt… cheese typically has salt.
Slice up everything else and add it around (except the cilantro/coriander leaf).
Bake for 9-12 minutes, depending on how thick your cheese is. I’d investigate at the 9 minute mark and go from there.
Serve, adding any cilantro as you or your guests desire.
Oh, PS… modify this to your heart’s content, but I do recommend you prep up everything before you start cooking. Personally, while I like the “Mexican” version, I adore the “Indian” version.