By: Rachel Shenk

Photo Credit: Rachel Shenk/La Bonne Vie

It’s that time of summer when days last forever, sunrises and sunsets are spectacular and life is lived outside as much as inside. We eat breakfast out on the sunporch with the windows open and spend time in the slow lane before going in to work. Our cat sits in the window, keeping an eye out for squirrels while our dog sits at our feet, waiting for a possible handout. And on the weekend, it’s deck time. We laze in our backyard private space, soaking in full summer. But also share it with others as we can.

This last week, my staff prompted me to have them over: it was long overdue. It was the perfect evening to be out on the deck and enjoy each other’s company. As always, I had to come up with a menu. I love perusing recipes and finding a good food combination. But this time, I remembered a note my brother-in-law had written a few years back after we had hosted he and my sister for a woodfired pizza night in the backyard. I had filed it into my “must try someday” file: a recipe for Lachmajoune or Armenian pizza. Lemons are an important part of this dish and so I looked for more recipes using lemon that would fit the theme. Soon the menu was shaping up: a rich hummus with chickpeas and lemon, some mint tea with lemon and lime, a gingered citrus vodka, fresh cucumbers and tomatoes with a lemon vinaigrette, the pizza itself and some homemade ice cream (with lemon) and baklava (with lemon in the syrup).

For the Lachmajoon, I needed ground lamb, so we took a trip out to Martin’s in Wakarusa where I usually find more unusual, good quality meats available. I also needed mint and, with plenty growing in the bakery garden, I picked to my heart’s content.

So now for a first attempt at this pizza. Jim has the fire ready. The dough I made is bursting out of the bowl. The moment of truth is here. Roll them out thin and spread on the topping. Sprinkle with mint. Bake in the oven. Take them out and squeeze out the juice of a half lemon over them. Roll them up and there you are. It is a perfect food for a hot summer evening.

So here’s to many more outdoor gatherings this summer. Just remember to keep those citronella candles burning to keep the unwanted guests away.

Lachmajoune (Armenian pizzas)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 batch of pizza dough (try this dough from a previous column)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. red chili flakes
  • ½ lb. ground lamb
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ cup mint, chopped
  • 2 to 3 lemons

Directions: 

  1. Fry the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil until softened. Add the spices and stir for a minute. Add the lamb and fry until just browned. Remove from heat and add tomato paste.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Make as many lemon-sized balls of dough as you can. Roll them out as thinly as possible to 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Brush with a little olive oil.
  3. Spread the meat mixture onto the pizzas. Sprinkle with mint and bake until the dough is baked through (15 or so minutes on a baking stone). They need to be a little limp.
  4. Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon over the pizza and roll up.

To quote my brother-in-law, Tim: “Yes, the lemon juice is the most distinctive feature of these pizzas! Each person eats three to four of these for a meal, goes well with beer (what doesn’t)?” Or mint tea!

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