Who doesn’t like pizza?! Really, everyone I know either likes pizza or LOVES pizza. This is a fun twist on pizza, but unlike American pizza pie, there is no cheese in this recipe. Lahmacun pronounced (LA-ha-MA-sewn) is also known as Turkish Pizza (or Armenian Pizza). It is known for it’s wafer-thin like cracker crust paired with a spicy flavorful ground meat topping which is usually lamb and sometimes beef. In this case, it’s ground beef because that is what my family prefers. It’s typical to add red and green bell peppers to the salsa, but I omit them. My recipe is similar to the traditional Turkish Pizza recipes I have seen, but with some adaptations I have made along the way based on my families’ preferences.
Let’s get started! Deciding on the crust. Remember it has to be very thin. I prefer to buy a thin round (that is the traditonal shape for this pizza) crust or I buy the thin crust in large squares. These are both pre-made and can be found in most groceries stores. This recipe will work for 2 medium sized round pizzas or 6 thin crust squares (roughly 4 inches by 10 inches in size). I have even used tortillas, the large ones for this recipe as well. Be sure to use a white flour crust or tortilla. Line a baking sheet with tin foil, spread some olive oil on the tin foil so the crust doesn’t stick, and lay your crust down. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees or whatever the directions for the crust recommends.
Salsa ingredients: You will need a large bunch of fresh parsley, and if you like you may add a small amount of mint leaves. These two herbs complement each other and will enhance the overall freshness of the dish. Then you will need 1 whole lemon, juices only, 3- 4 Roma tomatoes, and 1/4 of a yellow onion, and 3 cloves of garlic. Before you combine these ingredients into a food processor or a high speed blender, soak the parsley leaves (and mint) to get rid of any debris and dirt. Then you may add all of these ingredients into the blender, along with a drizzle of olive oil and ground sea salt. If you prefer to add peppers to your salsa, use 1/2 of a green and 1/2 of a red bell pepper (no seeds or pulp) and blend the ingredients for a few seconds. Now, pour the salsa into a strainer and place the strainer over a bowl. You want to get rid of excess water and juices.
This is what the salsa will look like as it starts to drain. Give this about 15 minutes. In the meantime, you will start to prepare your meat mixture.
Now for the meat mixture. Start by heating some extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan. Then dice the remaining onion into tiny chunks. Next, thinly slice 3 cloves of garlic. Add these to the hot pan and let them cook until they become translucent, roughly 5 minutes. Do not let them brown. Once done, set these aside. Now add roughly 2 lbs of ground beef into the pan. Be sure to break up the meat using a large spoon. Let the meat cook for 5-7 minutes then you may add in the onions and garlic. For seasonings I use: 1 teaspoon of paprika (or more), sea salt and black pepper to taste, and 3/4 of a tube of tomato paste. (If you like it spicy, add in some cumin and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.) Let the meat mixture cook on low heat for roughly 15 minutes in total cooking time. I prefer to pre-cook my meat for this recipe, I have seen most recipes that mince the raw meat and then smear it on the pizza to cook in the oven, but I prefer to let my meat pre-cook and get a nice flavor going first. This is what the meat mixture will look like.
Next, move the meat into a colander and let it drain. This is a photo of the meat draining.
Now the salsa is just about ready. This is what it will look like once drained. You may discard the juices.
Once the meat has drained completely, you may discard the juices from that as well. Then, in a large bowl combine the salsa and the meat mixture. It is fine if the meat is still warm. This is what it will look like once it’s combined.
Next, depending upon the crust you choose, you may need to pre-heat the crust first before adding the topping. If so, it will just be a few minutes. Then you may smear on a good portion of the meat mixture so it covers the entire crust leaving only the small outer rim for you to grab with your fingers and eat. Cook in the oven based on recommended cooking times for crust. Total cook time is roughly 7 minutes or so. You just want the crust to achieve the desired crispiness, but you don’t want the meat to dry out. The cooking times will vary.
You may garnish the pizza with some thinly sliced Roma tomatoes or chopped scallions. Serve with a cool, creamy dressing like a Ranch or sour cream or a tzatziki sauce will send this over the top. Enjoy!