Red Pepper and cheese flatbread

July 27, 2010  •  Category:


For every Lebanese expat, there is always the fond recollection of buying a kaak from a cart vendor, having him fill it up with zaataror 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.


  • 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


  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.


33 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. deeba says:

    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. Barbara says:

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

  3. elra says:

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

  4. Rosa says:

    That looks lovely! Yummy!



  5. anncoo says:

    Looks so easy and delicious!

  6. MaryMoh says:

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

  7. Angie's Recipes says:

    Yummy! Looks like a pizza,,,

  8. Lazaro says:

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

  9. deana says:

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

  10. Suman Singh says:

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

  11. Krista says:

    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. 12th Man says:

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

  13. Faith says:

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

  14. XiaoYen says:

    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. Pamela says:

    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. Joan Nova says:

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

  17. Vagabonde says:

    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. Julia says:

    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 says:

    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. citronetvanille says:

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

  21. Priya says:

    Woww wat a droolworthy combo…makes me hungry..

  22. oum mouncifrayan says:

    des ingrédients qui donnent envie!!! merci du partage

  23. Gloria says:

    Dear this look absolutely delicious and tasty! x gloria

  24. Susan says:

    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. Lentil Breakdown says:

    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. Murasaki Shikibu says:

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

  27. Sarah says:

    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. Devaki says:

    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. FOODESSA says:

    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,

  30. Grapefruit says:

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

  31. Medyum says:

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

  32. Ghada says:

    Hi Joumana. Just to clarify: Fenugreek is 7albeh which is totally different than Mahlab whish is also named ma7lab in arabic. I have since learned a bunch on fenugreek through Salah, an Egyptian gardener; apparently Egyptians love it!

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