In order to get my sister and I to finish every single grain of rice in our bowls, my grandmother used to tell us that leaving rice grains would mean our future husbands would be ugly. “What do you mean ‘ugly’, grandma?” we asked. “Lots of pockmarks. Or freckles. Or both!” exclaimed my grandmother.

Unfortunately for my grandmother, marrying yucky boys was the last thing on our minds. So she quickly revised her strategy: not finishing all your rice would mean we would grow up with lots of freckles! Yikes! From then on, not one grain of rice was seen in anyone’s rice bowl. Funny thing is, little did she know that we would one day grow up and live in a country where people actually think freckles are cute!

(I hope I’m not giving anyone the impression that my grandmother was cruel because she was the sweetest and kindest woman. She just had a funny strategy of asking us to finish our dinner.)

Thanks to my grandmother’s efforts, the philosophy of not wasting food is now permanently etched in my brain. So, what does that have to do with flatbread? If you’ll remember (from what seems like ages ago), the creation of a certain sourdough starter (admit it, you thought I killed it already, didn’t you!) and its continual maintenance (ha! but I didn’t!) generate enough leftover starter that I can feel the onset of freckles just from thinking about dumping it in the trash.

What to do … what to do? Thanks to a recipe from breadtopia, slight modifications, and an expectation of something more like flatbread than a fluffy pizza, not one grain(?) of wheat will go to waste!

Whenever I generate extra starter, I would save it in a little container in the fridge until I have enough to make something. Don’t expect this (or anything else you make from the leftover starter) to rise much unless you spike in fresh yeast.

1.5 cups all purpose or bread flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1.5 cups sourdough starter
1 Tbs water (if needed)
2 Tbs olive oil

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add starter and stir with a spoon to combine. You want the dough to start coming together into a manageable ball, so if it’s too dry, add in the tablespoon of water. If it’s too wet, add in flour by the tablespoon.

Once you have a ball that sticks together, add olive oil. This should help the dough be even more manageable. Using your hands, start kneading the dough for roughly 10-15 min. You want a smooth ball that doesn’t stick to your hands and feels elastic. Let dough rest for 30 min. (You can leave it for longer if you want since the original recipe asks for a few hours of rising time – just put dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic so it doesn’t dry out.)

Preheat oven to 400F (use a baking stone if you have one). Carefully roll out the dough into a roughly circular shape. If you want an even thinner crust, you can make fists with your hands and gently stretch the dough with the backs of your fists. Once the oven/stone is hot enough, prebake the crust for about 5 minutes.

Add toppings (see below for some suggestions) and bake again until hot and bubbling. Serve right away.

(Like pizza, you can practically use anything for toppings. The photo above is of a flatbread with a sauce that was tomato paste mixed with a bit of the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles. Next, we threw on some thinly sliced potatoes, green onions, sausage, and topped it with a bit of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.)