Kentucky Derby Eats: Pear and Arugula Flatbread


When creating menus for Churchill Downs’ restaurants, executive chef David Danielson has to satisfy multiple generations. Older diners will order salads, entrees, desserts and coffee. They’ll start and finish the meal together. 

A table full of younger race fans, though, typically orders a bunch of appetizers and several small plates. They’ll grab a few bites, visit other tables, and maybe chat with some other friends at the bar before returning to their original table.

“People eat differently today. They’re grazing and sharing, ” Danielson said, as he continued to oversee a staff that’s working to feed 160,000 or so Derby fans on Saturday. “That’s how menus change; you look at the dynamic of how people eat today compared with how they used to eat.”

Danielson created this pear and arugula flatbread for that younger crowd. The bread is warm, the cheese is melted and the cool greens are drizzled with local honey. With that said, we’re sure the older diners would appreciated a few bites of it, too.

Pear and Arugula Flatbread

3 cups unbleached flour, plus more for dusting a work surface
Fine sea salt
¼ ounce dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
Approx. 1 tablespoon sour cream
Approx. ½ cup blue cheese, crumbled
½ pear, thinly sliced
2 cups arugula

Process flour and salt in a mixer fitted with the dough hook until thoroughly incorporated, about one minute.

Put the yeast in another bowl. Whisk in ¼ cup warm water, then two tablespoons of oil. Let rest until liquid begins to foam, about 10 minutes, then pour mixture into the center of the flour. Mix the flour and yeast solution until incorporated. Add ¾ cup warm water to the flour and mix again until the dough pulls together.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead by working with the heel of your hand. Push outward and pull the inside edge over the top. Repeat this process to create a smooth ball, about six to eight minutes.

Brush a clean, stainless steel bowl with one tablespoon of oil and place dough in center. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, approximately 1½ hours.

When the dough has risen, divide in half, or thirds for thinner pizzas, and shape into balls (these can be individually wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 2 months).

Divide dough into desired portion size and with a rolling pin and extra flour roll into an oval.  Warm a flat, non-stick skillet and lightly oil. Gently cook until lightly crisped and golden brown evenly on both sides.

Once dough cools, spread the sour cream evenly on one side. Sprinkle bleu cheese crumbles evenly over the entire crust. Bake at 500°F.

While crust bakes, toss baby arugula and sliced pear with olive oil and a lightly seasoned sweet vinegar of your choice and season lightly with sea salt.

Once the flatbread is crisp and bubbling, remove from the oven, and top with your prepared arugula salad.