Vegan Zucchini Flatbreads With Roasted Garlic Pesto

May 12, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Murielle Banackissa
  • Prep time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • serves 4
Author Notes

These bright, plant-based flatbreads are everything I love about spring and summer days—the abundance of vegetables at this time of year is enough to put the biggest smile on my face.

The flatbread dough itself is very easy to make (though if you’re short on time, you can use your favorite store-bought version). You won’t need any fancy ingredients, nor special equipment (it comes together with just a bowl, a spoon, and time). But not that much time: Thanks to instant yeast, it’s ready for the oven in just about an hour!

As for the roasted garlic pesto, it is the true star of this recipe. Garlicky, slightly smoky, bright in flavor, rich and tangy, it adds punch to these flatbreads. Instead of using traditional pine nuts for this pesto, I opted for hemp hearts, as they are easy to find, affordable, and have a light, earthy flavor that complements all the other ingredients beautifully. For the tangy saltiness every pesto needs, I chose to incorporate nutritional yeast instead of vegan cheese; again, it is very accessible and affordable while replicating the traditional cheesiness typically found in this kind of sauce.

The final touch is simple: shaved zucchini tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Left raw, zucchini has a slightly crunchy texture and adds a touch of freshness to this recipe—a completely different experience than the cooked summer squash.

These flatbreads are best eaten immediately, but the recipe yields a little extra pesto—store it in the refrigerator for up to a week, to smear on toast, layer into sandwiches, or toss with your favorite pasta. —Murielle Banackissa

What You'll Need
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Vegan Zucchini Flatbreads With Roasted Garlic Pesto
  • Flatbread
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (about 120°F), plus more as needed
  • Roasted garlic pesto and flatbread assembly
  • 1 garlic head, unpeeled
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more plus more for seasoning
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice, divided
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces), shaved using a potato peeler
  • Shaved vegan cheese, for serving (optional; I love Daiya’s Jalapeño Havarti Style cheese)
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and water and mix with a wooden spoon until most of the flour is incorporated.
  2. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface dusted with flour and knead for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and springs back a little when poked. If the dough is very sticky, add more flour 1 teaspoon at a time, making sure to knead the dough well in between additions. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 teaspoon of lukewarm water and knead to incorporate.
  3. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with a clean, damp towel and let sit in a warm place to rise until doubled in size and very soft to the touch, about 1 hour.
  4. While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 400°F. Cut about 1/4 inch off of the top of the garlic head and place it on a medium piece of foil. Drizzle the garlic head with some olive oil and season with a big pinch of salt and lots of black pepper. Wrap the foil tightly around the garlic and roast, directly on the oven rack, for 40 minutes, until the cloves are soft and golden brown. Let the garlic cool for a few minutes, then unwrap and let cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the garlic skin and discard. Add the roasted garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, basil, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, nutritional yeast, hemp hearts, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper to a food processor and process until the basil is very finely chopped and the pesto is mostly smooth (it won’t completely purée, but avoid any large chunks of garlic or basil). Set aside.
  6. Increase the oven heat to 425°F, line a sheet pan with foil, then brush the foil with a bit of olive oil. Dust the work surface with more flour, then turn out the risen flatbread dough. Cut the dough into four pieces.
  7. Lightly grease your hands with a bit more olive oil and use your fingers and palms to stretch and press the dough into 6-inch-wide flatbreads.
  8. Place the flatbreads on the sheet pan, leaving about 1 inch of space between each (they should all fit on a standard half sheet pan). Bake for 5 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
  9. In a medium bowl, combine the zucchini, remaining 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, remaining 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, then season with salt to taste. Toss to coat.
  10. Spread a generous tablespoon of the pesto onto each flatbread. Top with the shaved zucchini mixture and vegan cheese, if using. Serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • smasseff
  • Murielle Banackissa
    Murielle Banackissa

2 Reviews

smasseff May 12, 2021
I made this last night and it was insanely delicious! The fresh zucchini was a game changer and I think the leftovers were even better after letting it soak in the lemon juice and salt overnight.

I cheated (shhh...) and used store-bought mini naan pitas to save time—with that substitution it becomes an incredibly fast weeknight dinner (or even snack). I didn't have hemp hearts so I used sunflower seeds in the pesto with great results; I didn't even notice a difference between using the seeds and the usual (although pricier) pine nuts.

Lastly, I recommend broiling your assembled "pita pizza" for a few minutes to get your cheese nice and bubbly. It's easily modifiable for dietary preferences; I used mozzarella and my boyfriend used vegan cheese. I'm already thinking of various riffs that this recipe could become...
Murielle B. May 17, 2021
Oh wow, that really really warms my heart! Thank you so much for taking the time to write a comment.

Mini naans are a savior when trying to cut prep time! I am so happy the sunflower seed pesto was just as good a one with pine nuts.

And thank you so much for the tip on the broiling of the flatbread. I will definitely try that next time ;)