Red Pepper and cheese flatbread

For every Lebanese expat, there is always the fond recollection of buying a kaak from a cart vendor, having him fill it up with zaatar or picon cheese and savoring its crunchy, sesame-laden goodness on the go.

Ever-enterprising Lebanese have now commercialized this street food and one can stop at a kaak store and order a kaak behind a counter, filled with fifty different things and grilled to order.

This is just what we did, stopping at the side of the highway at Abu Arab, the King of the Kaak. I ordered mine with red pepper paste and cheese and AnneLise ordered hers with labneh and olives; (then we did it again and she ordered hers like mine).

There is something about red pepper paste and cheese that cannot be topped; add some sesame seeds and a crunchy bread with the smell of mahlab (fenugreek) and you are in Lebanese food heaven.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pizza or flatbread dough or a pita bread, split, or anything that could be topped as a pizza
  • equal amounts of tomato paste and red pepper paste
  • 1 onion, chopped or grated (optional)
  • a handful of sesame seeds, toasted
  • grated white cheese, as needed
  • olive oil, as needed

METHOD:

  1. Combine equal amounts of tomato paste and red pepper paste; slather on the dough or pita.
  2. Sprinkle as much grated cheese as you like; sprinkle sesame seeds; bake in a very hot oven till the cheese is melted and the dough is dry and crunchy. Serve.

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31 Comments

  1. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I love flatbread with roasted bell peppers and cheese. I make a French fougasse with that, and some toasted walnuts added, and it’s a BIG hit! This flatbread sounds ever so intriguing! Love it!!

  2. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I can practically smell it from here! What a fabulous combination, Joumana!

  3. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I have been meaning to make “kaak”, filled with red pepper paste must have been heavenly good.

  4. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    That looks lovely! Yummy!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Looks so easy and delicious!

  6. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    Look simple to make and delicious. Love the combination of flavour.

  7. Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Yummy! Looks like a pizza,,,

  8. Lazaro
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Love the use of red pepper paste. Lovely flatbread recipe.

  9. Posted July 27, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    The combination is killer. I am learning so much about Lebanese cuisine… it is a great one!

  10. Posted July 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    looks yummilicious…thanks for the recipe and those wonderful pics..looks great!

  11. Posted July 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Mmm, what a fabulous flatbread, Joumana! I’ve been so busy the last week or so that I haven’t been able to read like I wanted. I’ve REALLY missed your posts and pictures and am so glad to be back. :-)

  12. Posted July 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    that might be the best looking flatbread i’ve ever seen. grazie!

  13. Posted July 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    The combination of red pepper and cheese is delicious and I love the sesame seeds on top for a little nutty flavor!

  14. Posted July 27, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of croissants because of this shape. This is definitely new to me. The recipe is so simple to make too which is a good thing because I’m no baker.

  15. Posted July 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    OMG! I need to try this, sounds terrific.

    It breaks my heart to read about Lebanese “expat”, I know exactly how that feels, having been myself an expat a long time ago, but you never forget what it feels not to belong. Big hug!

  16. Posted July 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a delicious combination. There’s never enough sesame seeds to suit me. Love them!

  17. Posted July 27, 2010 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I just watched a show on TV featuring Lebanon and its cooking. The food was so appetizing – luckily we had finish our dinner, but I went and opened a box of pistachio halva just the same. They showed a cart vendor selling food just like in your post and it looked so tasty – I was ready to call my cousin who is married with a Lebanese and asking him to tell us where to go in Lebanon for our next vacation (Baalbek looks very interesting.) One dish I liked on the show – since I like chick peas/garbanzo beans – they served it with yogurt and pine nuts. Have you posted on this recipe yet? I don’t know what it is called. C’était vraiment un bon programme.

  18. Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    I am so thrilled to have come across your blog! My mother is the best Lebanese cook I know, and I can’t wait to share your blog with her. I bet we will make some of these recipes together. The flatbread looks delicious!

  19. SYLVIA
    Posted July 27, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Buying kaak from street vendors, brought me right back to my youth, it’s nice to revisit these old memories, this was my childhood favorite, along with the famous roasted peanuts, it was our sidewalk attraction, this kaak never gets old, I like how they put a new spin on it, that incredible flavor of pepper paste with cheese together, Joumana, thanks for sharing all your experiences with us.

  20. Posted July 27, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh la la, ce pain, il a l’air bon! tout a l’air bon à Beyrouth, on a l’impression que c’est un mélange de saveurs orientales et méditerranéennes. Je vois bien que tu n’as pas trop envie de revenir aux US ;o)

  21. Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    Woww wat a droolworthy combo…makes me hungry..

  22. Posted July 28, 2010 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    des ingrédients qui donnent envie!!! merci du partage

  23. Posted July 28, 2010 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    Dear this look absolutely delicious and tasty! x gloria

  24. Posted July 28, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I am enthralled with all of the Lebanese food you have shared with us, Joumana! The sound of tomato and red pepper paste with cheese on good flatbread sounds so delicious!

  25. Posted July 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Where do you get red pepper paste in the States? At specialty stores, it’s so expensive. Do they have it at Middle Eastern markets? I know in Turkey, they have it in a big vat that they scoop out for you.

  26. Posted July 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m never disappointed when I visit your blog and it always makes me want to go to Lebanon!

  27. Posted July 28, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    I love street food and your red pepper paste and cheese combination sounds delicious. Here, mahlab referrs to the dried cherry pits which has a smell of cherries and almonds and not fenugreek.

  28. Posted July 29, 2010 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    What a great combination for explosive flavors, Joumana. I would never have thought to use sesame seeds in this one and I love it.

    Ciao, Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  29. Posted July 29, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    This flatbread sounds wonderfully simple and very appetizing.

    Joumana…I still can’t believe how much time you still dedicate to your blog while on vacation! I’m having a difficult time keeping up with you…I’m out of breath ;o)

    Ciao for now,
    Claudia

  30. Posted August 2, 2010 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    This sounds awesome – I don’t think I’ve ever had it, even though I love roasted bell peppers and zaatar flat breads!

  31. Posted March 31, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    This sounds awesome – I don’t think I’ve ever had it, even though I love roasted bell peppers and zaatar flat breads!

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