I finally bought myself a couple new cutting boards, and it’s life changing. My sister and I were discussing how many things we consider life changing the other day, and I must admit, for me, the number is not small. There are just so many little things that make life simpler, more relaxed, cleaner, quieter, or any other number of good things. And every one of those things is something to be thankful for. For me today, it’s cutting boards.
This is not to say I didn’t have a cutting board, but that was just it – I had a cutting board. The thing was constantly in the dishwasher when I needed it, and just a general source of minor irritation.
These are the kinds of things I usually ask for on my birthday or Mother’s Day, because I hate spending money on something for myself that isn’t hands-down, absolutely, 100% necessary. For example, I bake and cook a lot, but would never have gotten an electric mixer if Carl hadn’t decided to buy me one. It goes for everything from kitchen gadgets to clothes-hangers to pants, I just won’t buy more if I still have some that can pass as acceptable. I will throw out or give away clothes before I will buy more clothes hangers. This stems in part, I’m sure, from living on very little for quite a while (and not much more now), and part just from my over-thinking. I can’t write a non-grocery item on my grocery list without being assailed with thoughts about how many other people have so much less than I do, and who would consider another cutting board a ridiculous luxury, and how I should just be thankful to have one at all, and give away the $6 or hold onto it for something really important like my kids’ future braces. See, overthinking.
After reading Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project” awhile back (which I highly recommend), I realized I am what she calls “a chronic underbuyer”, struggling with minor purchase decisions so long that things are falling apart or long out-grown before I replace them. I’ve been taking baby steps to correct my habit, and get untold joy from the new ladle, extra cheese grater, and bright green cutting board that I bought for myself now gracing my kitchen.
The cutting boards happen to love flatbread.
Over the holidays, I tested this recipe on 3 separate groups of people, and they all declared it a win. I’m so excited to share it today, because obviously one other thing I really struggle with spending money on is eating out. On the rare occasion we do it, I decide the worth based on whether or not I could have made what we’re eating at home for a fraction of the cost. The answer is almost invariably yes, making me a pretty no-fun date. But, if the answer is no and the food is delicious, I consider how to make the recipe at home. That’s how this recipe came about.
Has anyone been to the Cactus Club Café and eaten Rob’s Flatbread? Well, Rob knew what he was doing, creating this flatbread.
Cactus Club just happens to fall sort of in the middle, geographically, between myself and two of my oldest and dearest friends, so we’ve met there a couple times for drinks, appies, desserts and serious heart-to-hearts. I love these too-rare meetings, where we can be completely ourselves, completely honest, open, vulnerable, and safe. These two women have seen me through everything in my life since elementary school, and I know we’ll continue to be there for each other through whatever comes our way.
Now, while I don’t claim to have the atmosphere of Cactus Club down at home – not enough fireplaces or short black skirts, not enough long shiny hair or regularly appearing waitstaff, no exotic foot-flush toilets or TVs built into the bathroom doors – I do now claim to make a flatbread that is just as good, if not better, than Rob’s.
Bold claims, especially based on pictures I took inside in the dark, but I stand by my claims.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or butter
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- ½ teaspon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 2 flatbreads, store-bought or homemade
- 2 Tbsp pesto or pizza sauce
- 10 grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise or quartered
- Small handful of arugula or mixed greens, plus a bit more for garnish
- 75 g regular or herbed soft goat cheese
- ⅛ cup balsamic reduction (see note)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees (or heat grill - these can also be done on the barbecue at a slightly lower heat).
- Caramelize onion: in small saucepan, heat oil or butter over medium heat. Add onion, salt and sugar. Stir to combine, then reduce heat to medium low and let cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and golden. Add tomatoes and arugula to pan and stir for 1-2 minutes, until arugula is wilted. Remove from heat.
- Put flatbreads on large cookie sheet. Spread 1 Tbsp of pesto or pizza sauce on each flatbread (it will be quite thin). Top each flatbread with half the onion mixture. Crumble goat cheese evenly over the toppings, then drizzle lightly with balsamic reduction.
- Bake for 8 minutes, remove from oven and top with additional fresh arugula, another light drizzle with balsamic reduction and a bit of fresh ground pepper.
- Cut each flatbread into 4-5 slightly diagonal slices with a pizza cutter. Serve immediately.