Focaccia is an astronomically popular flat oven-baked bread, which can be topped with herbs or other ingredients. It’s very popular in Italy. If you happen to walk during lunchtime in the streets of Milan, Florence, Venice or Rome everybody is munching on focaccia. Well, almost everybody. You guys know that I tend to exaggerate.
It is usually seasoned with olive oil and salt, sometimes herbs, and may be topped with onion, cheese or vegetables.
Or, or, or, or it can be stuffed. Yes, it can be stuffed. The most popular stuffed focaccia has to be the “Focaccia di Recco” a focaccia with cheese that melts into your mouth and just makes your life better.
There are endless combinations of stuffing possible. I, for instance, like to take the “Green, White and Red” road. Arugula, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes; honestly it doesn’t get much more awesome than this.
It is actually so good that I personally conducted a study yesterday on the health benefits of this stuffed focaccia, which may include things like: making people happier, skinnier and generally more amazing.
Or at least that’s what my friends felt like after eating it. 100% positive responses.
If you don’t feel like (or you don’t have time to) make the dough from scratch you can buy pre-made whole wheat pizza dough. Whole Foods carries it, and it works great. You save a lot of time but you’re probably going to miss all the fun that making focaccia dough entails.
Start from the beginning with flour, water and yeast; you’re in for a good time, trust.
1 ½ cup / 400 ml warm water (between 105°F and 115°F)
4 ½ cups / 600 gr whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ cup / 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
2 large handfuls arugula salad
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Place warm water in a large bowl and add dry yeast, sugar and salt. Let stand until yeast dissolves. After 5 to 7 minutes, it should be a bit foamy. If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast (or the water was too warm) and should start again with another packet.
Add whole wheat flour and olive oil and stir to blend well (the dough will be sticky).
Drop the dough onto a floured surface (or leave it in the bowl) and knead it until it becomes smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if the dough is too sticky to work.
The dough will be soft and pliable and extremely easy to work with.
Form dough into a ball and coat with a bit of olive oil. Place it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let raise in a draft-free place until doubled (it should take about 1 ½ hour).
Make the focaccia
Punch the dough down and divide in half.
Coat a 15x10-inch baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Using your fingertips press out half of the dough to a rectangle filling the baking sheet.
Top with arugula, feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes.
On a floured surface with a rolling pin, stretch the remaining half of the dough into a rectangle 15x10-inch wide. Carefully place it on top of the dough+stuffing. Trim the top if needed, then press the top and bottom dough together at the edges.
Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise while the oven preheats to 425°F (220°C).
Just before baking, dimple the dough with your fingers, leaving indentations.
In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ¼ cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Drizzle the dough with this olive oil brine.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into squares. Then have at it while it’s still warm. Just make sure not to burn your tongue.
One focaccia square yields roughly 193 calories, 6 grams of fat, 27 grams of carbs and 5 grams of protein.