Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food Styling and Photos by Kelly Hong © 8-24-2016 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
This is the perfect dish to make during prime tomato season - Antipasto Focaccia!
It’s all the things you love about Italian antipasto, layered on to a scrumptious whole wheat focaccia base.
A lovely vegetarian meal, or serve it as an appetizer, with a glass of wine, at a casual summer dinner party with friends.
BREAD RECIPE HELP
KELLY SAYS: This year we planted 12 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes in our garden.
Even though some of them are a little “imperfect”, the flavor is divine.
We often go out in the yard, and eat them straight off the plants, while still warm from the sun.
1 recipe whole wheat focaccia dough; You may use bacon fat, as the original recipe suggests, or substitute with unsalted butter, softened.
A few tablespoons olive oil plus more; divided
For the spiralized carrot and zucchini salad:
3 thick carrots, thin carrots do not work well in the spiralizer
1 medium zucchini
For the Vinaigrette for the carrot and zucchini salad, and serving:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 scant teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large clove garlic, put through a press
1/2 teaspoon salt
Few grinds of freshly ground pepper
For the Grilled Mini Peppers:
8 - 9 sweet red and orange mini peppers
The flavored base for the focaccia:
1/4 cup prepared basil pesto or thick tomato sauce, this will be the base for the toppings; we like to use our Basil Pistachio Parmesan Pesto Recipe. You can alternatively use our Sarah Phillips’ No-Cook Zesty Tomato Sauce
For the Caprese Salad topping:
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
8 ounces pitted Kalamata olives
2 medium to large heirloom tomatoes
1 cup assorted cherry tomatoes
For the Garnish and Serve:
Basil leaves, we used small basil leaves, but you can also cut larger leaves into a chiffonade
Edible flowers, we used cucumber blossoms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
14-inch perforated pizza pan
STEP I: MAKE THE FOCACCIA DOUGH BASE. HEAT THE OVEN TO 500 DEGREES F AND BAKE.
Make the focaccia dough base:
1. Prepare a 14-inch perforated pizza pan:
Cut out a round of parchment, then oil the pan and then oil the parchment.
2. Place and gently stretch dough on the prepared pan, and drizzle about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil evenly over the top of the dough.
SARAH SAYS: The drizzled oil helps protect the focaccia dough from tearing while stretching. If you get tears on the dough surface, then drizzle lightly with more oil.
3. Begin to stretch the dough into the pizza pan gradually, with short rests in-between, if the dough resists; do NOT force the dough to stretch. If your fingers stick too much to the dough, simply dip your fingertips in olive oil as often as needed.
KELLY SAYS: I found that this dough was wonderfully stretchy and elastic and filled the pan like a dream.
4. Dimple the surface with your fingers while you push the dough out into the baking sheet, but do not go so far as to degas the dough.
After the final dough stretch, spread the dough with 1 tablespoon olive oil or more.
5. Then, cover dough lightly with a piece of plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until it just comes to the top of the pan. It will take an hour or more, depending on the temperature of the room.
6. Carefully remove the plastic wrap without tearing the dough.
Heat the oven to 500 degrees F and bake:
1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven and heat it to 500 degrees F about 30 minutes before baking.
2. Dip your fingers in olive oil and make many indentations in the dough at irregular intervals. Press down firmly, but gently. You don’t want to deflate the dough.
Spritz the dough heavily with warm water, and then, drizzle 1 or more tablespoons olive oil over the focaccia.
3. Place focaccia in the oven and bake for 8 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 450 and rotate the pan.
4. Bake for an additional 7-12 minutes, or until the focaccia is golden brown.
Place the baked bread on a wire cake rack to cool for 5 minutes.
5. Then, unmold the bread by pulling on one end of the parchment paper, with the bread attached, to a wire cake rack to cool.
STEP II: PREPARE THE CARROT AND ZUCCHINI SALAD. ROAST AND PREPARE THE GRILLED MINI PEPPERS.
While the focaccia cools, make the antipasto toppings.
Make the spiralized carrot and zucchini salad:
1. Cut the ends off the carrots and peel them.
2. Cut a few inches off the narrow end, so they fit well in the spiralizer.
3. Spiralize the carrots.
4. Cut the ends off of the zucchini, and cut it in half, horizontally, so the “noodles” aren’t too long.
5. Spiralize the zucchini.
6. You will be left with these cute little mushroom-shaped thingees.
You can either snack on them, or set them aside for stock.
Don’t waste them! :^)
Make the vinaigrette for the carrot and zucchini salad:
1. Put all the olive oil, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a jar with a lid, and cover. Then shake them all up.
Make the carrot and zucchini salad:
1. Mix the carrots and zucchini together in a bowl, then spoon 2 1/2 tablespoons of the vinaigrette on top.
Mix it thoroughly, yet gently, with your hands.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature while you prepare the other toppings.
3. Reserve the remaining vinaigrette to drizzle on the sliced focaccia when you serve it.
Grill and prepare the grilled mini peppers:
1. Lightly grill all sides of the peppers.
If you don’t have a grill, you can use a stove-top grill pan.
2. Cut the tops off the peppers, then cut them in half, lengthwise.
STEP III: BUILD THE FOCACCIA
Spread the flavored base on the cooled focaccia bread:
1. Spread the 1/4 cup pesto or thick tomato sauce all over the surface of the focaccia.
Your hand is really the best tool for this job.
Place the Caprese Salad topping and the carrot and zucchini salad on top of the flavored base:
1. Place the slices of mozzarella in the center of the focaccia smeared with pesto.
Then add a “wreath” of spiralized carrot and zucchini salad around the edge.
2. Arrange the grilled mini pepper halves, pointy end facing out, in between the salad and cheese.
Then scatter the olives around the edge.
4. Cut the large heirloom tomatoes in slices, and the cherry tomatoes in half, and arrange them over the mozarella cheese.
Using different colors and shapes of tomatoes adds to the visual appeal of the dish.
STEP IV: GARNISH THE FOCACCIA BREAD AND SERVE
1. Tuck the basil leaves and edible flowers in amongst the tomatoes.
2. Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the tomatoes, then add coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Cut focaccia into slices with a pizza cutter. Encourage your guests to drizzle their slices with additional vinaigrette.
Store extra slices in the refrigerator for a day or two. The focaccia bread will get soggy from the tomato and vegetable juices.