No matter the entrée, an Indian dinner just isn't complete without a side of naan. In fact, I'll happily skip the rice and double down with an extra piece of naan every time. But this puffed flatbread has the power to move beyond dinner accoutrement. It's worthy of a role far better — like actually being the main course.
5 Ways to Turn Naan into Dinner
This Indian flatbread, traditionally cooked in the tandoor, carries a slight smoky aroma, and has a soft texture with pillow-like pockets studded over the top. And it proves to be super versatile — it's soft and sturdy enough to take the place of bread, thin enough to be used as a flatbread or pizza dough, and pliable enough to work as a tortilla. It can be soaked, baked, fried, and folded to take on some surprising — and delicious — forms.
Each of these recipes starts with one to two pieces of naan. There's one dish that's on the sweeter side, so plain naan works best there, but for the rest of the recipes any type of naan — plain or flavored — is fair game.
Savory Naan-Bread Pudding
When cut into small pieces, naan works just like cubed bread, making it a nice substitute in stratas and savory bread puddings. Use fresh naan or even a piece that's a day or two old.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut one to two pieces of naan (2 cups total) into 1-inch pieces and place them in the bottom of a small baking dish (7x5-inch or 8x8-inch). In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 egg and 1 cup of milk, then pour the milk mixture over the naan.
Heat 1 tablespoon unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 diced onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cups shredded kale, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the leaves begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
Mix 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, and the cooked kale into the naan. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the pudding doesn't weep when pierced with a knife.
Or, as I like to call it, a naanrito. Go for plain or flavored naan, but do use a piece that's fresh. A fresher piece of naan will be softer and more pliable, which will make it easier to fold.
Place the naan in a warm oven or in a pan on the stovetop over heat for a couple minutes to soften it and make it more pliable. Then get out your favorite burrito fillings and get rolling! Layer the fillings along one side of the naan, then roll the naan like a tortilla.
Put your extra pieces of naan to work as a ready-made pizza crust. Bonus points if you have garlic or onion naan.
Spoon on a tablespoon or two of pizza sauce over top of one piece of naan. Pile on some cheese and your favorite toppings, then cook on a tray in a 450°F oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and the bottom is crisp.
Naan French Toast
Serves 1 to 2
Because sometimes what you need at the end of a really long day is breakfast for dinner. Naan is thin, but still thick enough to soak up plenty of custard, making for a plate of french toast that's crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.
In a wide bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 3/4 cup of half and half, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cut two pieces of naan in half or quarters. Soak the naan in the custard for about 30 seconds, then flip and soak the other side. Heat 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large skillet. When hot add the naan, and cook until golden-brown, then flip and cook the other side. Serve with maple syrup, honey, yogurt, or your favorite toppings.
Serves 1 to 2
When you need to give a day-old, dried-out piece of naan new life, naanchos work every time.
Cut one to two pieces of naan into bite-sized pieces, place on a baking sheet, and cook in a 350°F oven until crisp and toasted, about 10 minutes. Stack the naan pieces into a mound and top with 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese. Put the baking sheet back in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven, transfer the naan to a plate, and top with your favorite nacho toppings.
(Image credits: Kelli Foster)