This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe challenge was for Focaccia, a traditional flat Italian bread normally topped with a generous serving of olive oil, fresh herbs, and coarse salt. However, the uses for a fresh loaf of focaccia are endless - split a slice in half and fill it with your favorite sandwich ingredients, top it with a generous amount of cheese before baking to make an irresistible appetizer, or make a sweet focaccia topped with grapes, blueberries, or blackberries and some coarse lemon sugar.
I chose to try to turn this project into a meal for my family by making a focaccia pizza. My husband and son are pizza fiends and since we are once again giving up cheese during the fast-approaching Lenten season, I figured it would probably be kind to make them as many cheese filled, topped, stuffed, or sprinkled items as I can before the fasting begins.
I have made focaccia many, many times before and this dough was much more stiff than any recipe I have tried previously (the dough is practically pour-able in most other recipes). It really did remind me of more of a pizza dough than a focaccia. However, after a lot of hand kneading and a couple rises, the dough really did form a lot of the bubbles characteristic of a focaccia. The dough was pleasant to work with, not too sticky, and rose beautifully both inside and out of the fridge.
After a 24-hour rest in the fridge, I carefully spread the dough onto a baking sheet sprinkled with semolina and topped it with a quick tomato-basil topping along with some fresh mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. The bread/pizza monstrosity baked up beautifully in the oven and the aroma that filled the kitchen had my husband coming in from the study to check on the progress of the meal every few minutes (as I have mentioned before, he gets rather restless around feeding time).
The end result? It was delicious! It rose up pretty nicely for the most part. The edge pieces were rather thin, but that was probably my fault with stretching the dough too thin in those areas. However, this made a very tasty sheet pizza. My hubby and son devoured 3/4 of it in less than 20 minutes and were singing my praises. We'll see what they have to say about my cooking when they are eating nothing but lentil soup and quinoa salads during Lent.
I've included the recipe for the pizza topping below just in case anyone would like to try making it. It really does make a fabulous topping for pizza.
If you would like to try the focaccia recipe, head over to Sharmini's Blog.
Quick Tomato-Basil Pizza Topping
adapted from Cook's Country
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (roughly 2 cups)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup basil leaves, chiffonade
Sea Salt for Sprinkling
Place tomatoes in a colander, and drain REALLY well. In a medium bowl, combine drained tomatoes, oil, garlic, oregano, and salt and set aside. In a second bowl, combine mozzarella and Parmesan. Set aside. Sprinkle cheese mixture over the dough, leaving 1/2-inch border on all sides. Top with tomato mixture, and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt. Bake until well browned and bubbling. Slide pizza onto a wire rack, sprinkle with basil, and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.