Test Kitchen - Papalo Tomato Flatbread

Papalo, you are one crazy herb to work with. I'm not saying that it is difficult to handle but it sure is difficult to pair with other ingredients because this herb is strong in taste and aroma. It makes sense why some restaurants in Mexico will place stalks of it in glass vases at restaurant tables for the purpose of customers freshening their breaths. Some recipes have said that it is a substitute for coriander/cilantro (same thing) but at 1/3 the amount due to its flavor strength. I'd argue against that. Papalo is a different beast of its own. With some hints of coriander flavor, it also takes on aspects of arugula, rue, lime, and mint. All the recipes out there I could find after quick searches called for putting it into salsas and guacamole. Sounds like a cop-out! We decided to mix some cuisines and created a flatbread with papalo salsa ingredients on top - a Mexican Margherita pizza of sorts. The flatbread itself was adapted from here but the toppings our own.

Step 1: Ingredients (yields two 14-inch flatbreads)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour + extra for working
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsps fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 lb queso de Oaxaca
  • 3-4 large Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 bountiful sprig of papalo, leaves only

Step 2: Making the dough
The dough is actually quite easy to make and doesn't require much kneading, if any. Combine flour, garlic, parsley, thyme, garlic salt, and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix it well before adding water to it. When you start adding water, do so slowly at about 1/4 cup at a time. You want the dough to be moist but not wet. You may find that one whole cup may be too much! Roll into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30+ minutes.

Step 3: Making the flatbread
Preheat oven to 400°F. Slice tomatoes to prepare - you'll want them somewhat thick for weight as they bake. On a floured surface, divide the dough in half. Roll out each half with a rolling pin to about 1/8" or 1/16" thick in a long rectangular shape. Brush with olive oil. Top each flatbread piece with half the amount of cheese. You can alternate cheese-tomato-cheese as I did too for a prettier pizzetta. Before baking, crack black pepper on top as desired.

Step 4: Finishing
Bake for 10-12 minutes on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. After removing from the oven, you can add on your papalo leaves but be mindful of how strong the taste is. Don't overdo it on the leaves. Eat and enjoy!

This week's Test Kitchen ingredient: verdolaga/purslane
We came across this leaf vegetable (often considered a weed actually) at a farmers market and bought it out of curiosity. Duc had actually mistaken watercress for it at first since they were all labeled together but it was an honest mistake because they look quite similar. You might know it by its more common name "purslane" but it was marked as verdolaga when we grabbed it! If you have ideas of what we should do with it, let us know on Facebook!

"Purslane contains more omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid in particular) than any other leafy vegetable plant. Studies have found that Purslane has 0.01 mg/g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This is an extraordinary amount of EPA for a land-based vegetable source. EPA is an Omega-3 fatty acid found mostly in fish, some algae, and flax seeds. It also contains vitamins (mainly vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and some vitamin B and carotenoids), as well as dietary minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and iron. Also present are two types of betalain alkaloid pigments, the reddish betacyanins (visible in the coloration of the stems) and the yellow betaxanthins (noticeable in the flowers and in the slight yellowish cast of the leaves). Both of these pigment types are potent antioxidants and have been found to have antimutagenic properties in laboratory studies." [Wikipedia]

Photography by Duc Duong.



  1. That looks DE-LIC-IOUS! My MIL made something very similar, but she looks to hoard her recipes and not share...now? I have one!!!!

    1. Ooo I'm not a recipe hoarder at all...or maybe I should take that back. I hoard but I also share ;P Tell me how your recipe-making goes!

  2. I love that you put the herb in the dough. I always love to try new ingredients as well. This looks to be a perfect way to use Papalo. Never heard of it btw.

    1. Shari - we have a lot more papalo if you ever want some! =]