I love a party where guests do all the work. I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me because I’m not talking about taking out the trash or unloading the dishwasher (’cause no one will ever want to come to your parties ever again if you make them do that). I’m talking about the fun jobs, like mixing up their own drinks at the bar and getting creative with dinner in the form of build-your-own style menu setups where they can customize soba noodles, bagel sandwiches, grilled cheese, whatever. For today’s post, we partnered with Spectrum and got so inspired by their line of delicious, healthy oils that we created a variety of colorful flatbreads that are perfect for your upcoming holiday parties… or dinner tonight. Keep scrolling to see what we put on our dream flatbreads and tips for making them at home. And at the end of the post, find out about an upcoming event in Austin with chef Marcus Samuelsson — I’ll be there, and it’s going to be a blast!
*photos by kristen kilpatrick
One key to hosting a smooth build-your-own anything party is to choose ingredients that can hang-out at room temperature on the buffet for awhile. This allows you to prep everything before guests arrive, then pour a glass of pinot and be that chilled-out hostess that we all dream of being when you actually open the front door. Promise, you can do it!
In my experience, most guests like a little guidance, so I created four different delicious topping recommendations to get them started, and then once they got going, everyone could feel free to tweak theirs based on their preferences and creative inspiration. The fun thing about these flatbreads is that each one of them was inspired by a different Spectrum oil, and everyone loved the culinary adventure of taste testing and picking up on the different flavors in each one.
Depending on how much time I have, I’ll either whip up my signature pizza dough recipe and divide it into small rounds that bake off in the oven, OR I’ll take a shortcut and pickup some mini naan breads or flatbreads from the grocery. All that’s left to do is warm them up, then set out all your toppings ready to go. Since these don’t go back in the oven, I love to use a mix of raw and cooked ingredients so that each flatbread has both substance and a burst of freshness, plus lots of different textures and colors.
There are a lot of mixed messages out there about which oils to use, and I have always loved using Spectrum as the gold standard in healthier cooking. Their products are sourced from the highest quality ingredients, and I use the brand’s organic olive oil daily. For my fellow EVOO lovers, be sure to try out the brand’s small-batch extra virgin olive oils from estates in Spain, Italy and Tunisia – see if you can taste the differences.
Alrighty, for the toppings! Here are two of my favorite combinations that are pretty much unbeatable:
Autumn Harvest: butternut squash, apple, goat cheese, prosciutto, pumpkin seeds, and Unrefined Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Figs & Honey: figs, mozzarella, almonds, honey-balsamic drizzle, and Unrefined Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
If you’re a fan of the “put an egg on it” approach, this one’s for you:
California-Style: tomatoes, arugula, basil, avocado, fried egg, chile flakes and Avocado Oil (which happens to be full of good-for-you monounsaturated fats.)
And don’t forget my fourth favorite:
The Med: olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, feta, & pine nuts, and Organic Extra-Virgin Mediterranean Olive Oil
Which one is calling your name?
Also, an exciting event here in Austin! Spectrum is teaming up with Marcus Samuelsson for an event at Austin’s SFC Farmers’ Market this Saturday, where he’ll be conducting cooking classes featuring local produce and Spectrum oils to bring out the flavors of each dish. Sign-ups are full, but there will be a few first-come-first-served spots available. Check out the details here, and if you’re at the market this weekend, come check it out.