Take a peach. A Georgia peach. Hold it in your hands, that peach with its fuzzy gold and crimson skin, that peach with its dimpled crevice pointing to a core. Take that peach when it’s good and ripe, soft enough to give when you push, sweet enough to smell from arm’s length. Slice it, bite it, taste its flesh; then tell me you know all there is to know in this life; tell me you, the one with juice dripping down your fingers and across your sleeve, you who took that fruit but couldn’t create it, tell me anything you will ever design, in all your life, that will be more right than this.
Smell basil. Fresh basil. Basil that’s growing in the pot on your front porch, so big and tall and strong it takes your breath away when you see it out your dining room window, leaves bowing in the breeze. Snip off a few handfuls of leaves, the licorice smell coating your fingers as you do. Take them to the cutting board in your kitchen and chop them fine, releasing their oils into the wood grain and sending you miles and years from your countertops, to summers in your grandma’s backyard and al fresco dinners on Chicago’s north side.
Make a dough. A quick dough. A dough with no yeast and no proofing and 15 minutes of mixing time, tops. Start by combining flour and chopped basil and baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center, add oil and water, and stir it slowly with a long wooden spoon. Form the dough into a ball; knead it right in the bowl; split the dough into thirds.
Then, look at them, the three of them, resting in the bowl while you gather dishes to the sink. Ask yourself what miracle world you live in where you can have all the ingredients to build everything from cakes to breads to quick doughs, always available at the store every day, prepared by other hands for you to buy, to keep in your kitchen, for last-minute crazy-fast quick pita breads you can eat when you like.
Roll the dough out, one third at a time, on the brown parchment paper you keep in the bottom drawer of your kitchen, your little galley kitchen with white cabinets and laminate counters and a permanent stain in the sink. Look out the over-the-sink window that you prayed for, back when you and your soon-to-be-husband thought you’d never find a place to rent. See the grass growing longer in the yard he mows every two weeks. You’ve never mowed the lawn because he does it for you, just like he fills the car up with gas and takes out the trash every Wednesday morning before the truck lumbers down the street.
Pull the pita breads out of the oven, one by one by one, and set them on the counter to cool. Top them with creamy, sweet ricotta; then leaves of basil; then those peaches you sliced. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Drizzle honey. Cut them like pizzas.
Tell your husband he was right to say, Let’s get three bags of peaches, the way he did Saturday morning, when the two of you knew you’d lost the house and talked about what to do next and you’d told him you were numb. “We didn’t get the house, but we can get peaches!” he’d eventually laughed to you on the sofa, where the two of you had spent the early weekend hours, reading and praying and wondering just what to feel.
Eat another slice of peach and basil flatbread. We didn’t get the house, but we can get peaches! Think about the maker of peaches, the ultimate maker of peaches, the one who planned the first garden and who sources all good things. Remember hearing, just this morning, that this Peach Maker, this Life Creator, is strength of my heart, also known as “rock of my heart,” your Bible footnotes say. Rock of my heart. Rock, like unbreaking and steady. Rock, like a thing you can trust.
Peaches ain’t no cure for heartbreak, but man, they show Who is.
The first time I made these flatbread pitas, I was over the moon about how fast they are. Those of you who are looking for quick, quick recipe ideas, here you go. It’s true it involves a dough, but, people, there never was a faster one. If you want a true cracker flatbread crust, you could slightly lower the flour and let the dough bake a few extra minutes; if you want a softer, pita-like crust, follow the recipe as written here.
for the pita breads
2 cups of einkorn flour (or you could swap in another all-purpose flour)
1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for topping before baking
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
for pita toppings
10 ounces ricotta
A handful or two of fresh basil, torn into leaves
2 peaches, sliced into thin half circles
Salt and pepper, for dashing all over the top
A few drizzles of honey
Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a baking stone, stick it in the oven as it preheats, on the middle rack. If you don’t, just put in a baking sheet.
In a medium or large bowl, combine einkorn flour, chopped basil, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and add the water and olive oil. Stir the flour into the center with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Once it comes together, knead the dough a few times right in the bowl, creating a nice round of dough.
Split the dough up into three equal pieces. Roll each one out individually on a piece of parchment paper—Mine were around eight inches in diameter when round and various sizes in rectangles or ovals. What’s most important here is that you make them thin. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake each round of dough, one at a time, for around 10 minutes, until golden and brown. The first time I made these, I went a little over the time and got a great cracker crust; today, I went under the time and got more of a pita consistency. So how long you leave them in is up to you and what you prefer. As each flatbread bakes, transfer it to a counter or rack to cool.
Top each flatbread with enough ricotta to cover it, then basil leaves, then peaches. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the top, and drizzle honey as you like. The flatbreads can be sliced easily with a pizza cutter when they’re pita consistency; if yours are more crackery, beware of many crumbs.