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Turkish Lamb Pita Pizzas adapted from Semsa Denizsel in Food and Wine Magazine

Turkish Lamb Pita Pizzas adapted from Semsa Denizsel in Food and Wine Magazine
Need I tell you, we didn’t have lamb for Easter.  Instead, we had one of our glorious whole, bone-in hams, with a side of Kielbasa.  As much as we enjoyed our feast, I had lamb on my mind when we came back to the city.  A couple of weeks ago, I’d found a recipe for Lamb Pizza.  Pizza, I need not tell you, has pretty well taken over the world.  And apparently Turkey is no exception.  This particular pizza is the work of a woman named Semsa Denizsel who owns a take-out food shop and restaurant in Istanbul called Kantin.  Chef Denizsel is no stranger to Food and Wine Magazine, which is where I encountered her recipe. She’s provided them with four of her recipes so far.  I am sure there are more coming as Ms. Denizsel is acquiring a reputation as an authority on Turkish Cuisine.  Kantin is located in Istanbul’s poshest neighborhood.  Now 13 years old, the focus of the food there is simple, honest, and homemade.  The Chef is a complete locavore and a seasonal cook.  So even when something like eggplant floods the markets of Istanbul, if it isn’t locally grown or in season you won’t find it at Kantin.  What you will find is inventive cooking like these lamb pizzas spiced with red pepper and sweetened with sun-dried tomatoes.  Topped with an egg and baked in a hot oven, they elevate a simple weeknight supper into an adventure.

Note the crust on
Chef Denizsel’s Version

Chef Denizsel makes her own crust with simple whole wheat dough.  I took one look at it and realized it looked awfully familiar. So instead of doing any baking, I took whole wheat pitas that you can find pretty well everywhere, halved them and put the Chefs lamb topping onto them, cracked an egg over each one, and after 7 minutes in the oven, they were done.  And they were delicious.  I wish I could have stuck completely to the recipe and found the Turkish Red Pepper Paste called Biber Salcasi but the recommended stand-in hot cherry peppers are a staple in our fridge.  Chopped into a tiny dice with the sun-dried tomatoes, their flecks of red greatly enhanced the look of the ground lamb.  The egg is the icing on the cake.  It’s not only pretty but oozing over the lamb mixture, it’s an unctuous pleasure.


Chef Semsa Denizsel

Confession time:  This was the second time I’ve made these. But that version didn’t get into the blog.  The reason was this: Often, when the number of portions is given as 4, I don’t completely half the recipe. I cut back but I’m more likely to make the whole thing and put the leftovers in the fridge for lunch.  Here, I made the whole recipe for the topping, and then, overwhelmed by how wonderfully it smelled and looked, loaded it onto the Pita.  Quite honestly, it was just too much. It really needed to be the recommended portion or ¼ of the topping for each pizza. Keeping that in mind, here’s the recipe for four Pita Pizzas. 

1 thought on “Turkish Lamb Pita Pizzas adapted from Semsa Denizsel in Food and Wine Magazine”

  • Monte,
    I watched Rick Stein make this on a youtube video – got me hooked on Rick Stein, for sure! This is a delicious and easy meal that I've turned to when time is tight. The Turkish red pepper paste is a new product in my world and one I'd love to get to know.

    Thanks for ANOTHER great post that, even with a full stomach, has me drooling.

    All the best,

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