Cheese manousheh or manoushe (aka Lebanese pizza) is traditional comfort food in Lebanon. After all, what's better than gooey, melting cheese wrapped up in warm dough? Let me answer that real quick, nothing at all.
In Lebanon, local bakeries in every corner sell this simple yet delicious delicacy. But that isn't to say you can't enjoy making it right in your own kitchen. I tried and given that my cheese manoushe's vanished off of the serving plate in about 5 minutes, I am guessing this recipe turned out really good. I am excited for you to try it out so let's roll.
Ingredients You'll Need:
- Akkawi cheese: This is a kind of salty cheese often sold at Lebanese stores anywhere in the world. Make sure to shred this cheese if you are going to use it in this recipe. A good substitute for akawi is mozzarella (or any other cheese that melts well).
- Mozzarella cheese: I mix a little of this with the akawi cheese and it makes for a wondrous mix of flavors.
- Teta's Homemade Dough Recipe: My favorite recipe for Lebanese dishes. Its ingredients are as follows: active dry yeast, vegetable oil, milk, salt, sugar, flour, egg, and water. If you are short on time, you can use ready-made pizza dough, whole wheat biscuit dough, and dinner roll dough.
- Dried herbs: Mint, oregano, basil, or thyme. These are optional but add a ton of flavor. I usually sprinkle them on top of the pastries once they're out of the oven.
- Vegetables: Cucumbers, mint leaves, tomatoes, peppers. In Lebanon when you add veggies to any manousheh it turns it into a "manousheh extra," so even though these are also optional they are highly recommended.
The Perfect Cheese For Manousheh
I find that the perfect cheese blend for a manouche to turn out with a great, balanced flavor is this: Mix a mild tasting cheese like mozzarella with a tangy, salty kind of cheese. A perfect mix would be half a cup of shredded akkawi and half a cup of shredded mozzarella. If you can't find akkawi, look for a type of cheese that's a bit salty and melts well as a substitute. Just make sure to create a mix of mild and salty and you're on your way to the perfect cheese manousheh.
Cheese Manousheh Variations
- In Lebanon, people love making cheese manousheh with deli meats like ham, turkey, salami, or mortadella. This variation turns is called a Lebanese pizza and it's out of this world.
- Another variation is the zaatar/cheese manousheh. Here we basically drizzle za'atar on top of the cheese before popping the manousheh into the oven. The inspiration behind this comes from the mighty Lebanese za'atar manakish.
- A popular variation in the North of Lebanon is cheese manousheh with pitted green olives and herbs. Add pitted olives and herbs with a drizzle of olive oil over the pastry right after you take it out of the oven.
Tips and Tricks
- Always use fresh refrigerated cheese when making this recipe. Frozen mozzarella or akawi do not work well here and will leave you with a pretty soggy manousheh (this is even if the cheeses are well-thawed).
- Cheese heats up and melts really quickly so if we top the raw dough with it and place it in the oven right away, we'll most probably end up with undercooked dough. The trick here is to pop the dough into the oven for around 10 minutes without any toppings first. Then take it out of the oven, sprinkle with the cheese, and let it bake for a few more minutes. That way the cheese melts perfectly and the dough is cooked perfectly. At bakeries, this step isn't necessary because they use special ovens to ensure the dough cooks real fast. When making this at home dough, we need to follow this step.
- Bake the dough and cheese as you would do with a pizza rather than folding the dough over the cheese. Some do this because they see that manoushes have a crescent shape so they fold them over before baking. It's always better to do this step after you've finished baking the manousheh. You can skip folding all together and simply cut the manousheh into pizza-like slices. I make my manousheh pretty small so I often serve it as is.
The best way to serve a cheese manoushe is to plate it alongside some fresh, crunchy vegetables and a few fresh mint leaves. Nothing will ever top this combination. I've seen people serve mini versions of cheese manoushe alongside a zaatar and olive oil dip. This recipe works really well with fresh Lebanese salads like the mighty fattoush or even a simple green salad.