Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Focaccia with Spinach Pesto & Veggies

I love this focaccia recipe because it is fairly easy and doesn’t doesn’t require super long rise times. A friend introduced me to SAF yeast a few months ago and it totally changed the way I bake with yeast! This yeast requires no proofing, yet gives all my breads a great rise. (“Proofing” is when yeast dissolves in warm water to activate before incorporating it into the dough.) I bought it on Amazon- and even with the ridiculous amount of bread I make, there is enough to last me a very long time! If you aren’t up for making the bread from scratch, use store bought focaccia. The pesto and veggie toppings on this focaccia are delicious and very healthy! The focaccia recipe comes from allrecipes.com and the pesto and toppings recipes comes from Cuisine at Home (great cooking magazine, FYI!). 

Easy Focaccia Bread

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) instant dry yeast (please check out Saf yeast- it's fab!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I used 1 Tbl minced garlic and it worked great!)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
1 cup water

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle combine flour, salt, sugar, yeast, garlic powder, oregano, thyme, basil and black pepper. Mix in the vegetable oil and water. Mix till dough has pulled together (about 3 minutes). Switch to dough hook and knead for 7 minutes.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a cloth, and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

Oil a lipped baking sheet. Place risen dough in the center of the baking sheet. Press dough, starting from the center and working your way out, to the edges of the sheet. This takes some patience; do not rush, the dough will reach eventually! Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for another hour. After the last rise, lightly press your fingertips into the top of the focaccia dough to give it that classic "dimpled" focaccia look.
While the dough is rising, make the pesto and get the veggies ready.

Spinach Pesto
3 c. spinach leaves (I just used 3 large handfuls)
1 c. parsley leaves (again, I just used one handful)
3 garlic cloves
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
All the zest AND juice from one small lemon
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a blender or food processor, pulse spinach, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, zest and juice until minced. Drizzle in oil and pulse until blended. Season pesto with salt and pepper and set aside.

1 1/2 c. broccoli florets
1 c zucchini, cut into rounds
1/2 c. sliced white onion
4 oz shredded fontina cheese
1 Tbl olive oil (if roasting)

Preheat oven to 425F

To assemble the focaccia.
Spread half to two-thirds of the pesto on top of the focaccia dough (save the rest for dipping once cooked). Layer fontina cheese on pesto and top with veggies. Bake at 425F for 25 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into squares with a pizza cutter. Enjoy!

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