Pizza with a Turkish Twist
By June Naylor
Photos by Meda Kessler
Tanya Kogan’s travels as she was growing up resemble those of an international spy.
Born in New York to a Turkish mom and British dad, she and her family moved all over the world thanks to her father’s work in the oil business. They lived in exotic places ranging from India to New Zealand.
When the family landed in Dallas, the culinary influences gathered along the way stuck with her. “As a child, so many memories included coming home to wonderful smells greeting me at the door and filling our home. No matter how busy we were, my mother always found time to make a homemade meal.”
The Southlake mom does the same for her two boys: Jeremy, who runs cross-country for Carroll High School, and Carson, who works up his appetite playing soccer and tennis. Tanya and husband Jim, a radiologist who was born in Latvia, travel frequently with their kids, ensuring that generation also grows up savoring multicultural flavors — abroad and also at home.
“I think I have a cookbook from just about every country, but the one that I hold dearest is Turkish,” Tanya says. When she’s not running the family’s Colorado vacation rental company, she’s treating friends to the foods of her childhood, including baklava and the street specialty called lahmacun — pronounced “la-ma-june” — or Turkish pizza.
“It’s a great alternative to traditional pizza and perfect for people who do not eat cheese. Traditionally, you make the dough; fresh flour tortillas work as a shortcut. Made with beef or lamb or a combination, it’s a snack you fold over and eat with your hands.” As Tanya says, afiyet olsun. That’s Turkish for bon appetit.
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 pound lean ground beef, or half ground beef and half ground lamb
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
- 2 tablespoons concentrated tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley, with extra for garnish
- Salt and ground pepper to taste
- 20 flour tortillas, preferably freshly made
- 1 tomato, diced
- Lemon wedges
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Pulse onion and crushed garlic in food processor. Add green pepper and continue pulsing until well blended.
Add meat, drained tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, chili powder, parsley and salt and pepper. Process until well blended; consistency should be like wet paste.
Lay the tortillas out flat and place a large spoonful of meat mixture in the middle of each. Spread mixture with the back of the spoon, leaving about ½ inch of space at edges. Place each tortilla directly on the middle rack of the oven for 8 to 11 minutes — depending on the thickness of the tortillas — or until the edges start to brown. (Place a tray under the pizzas in case any juices drip off edges.)
Remove from oven and serve with a bit of parsley, chopped tomatoes and lemon wedges to squeeze on top. Fold the tortilla over and eat with your hands. Leftovers freeze well; bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes to reheat.