Focaccia. There are no set-in-stone rules on this one. Not for most of us, anyway. Focaccia is basically an Italian oven-baked flatbread. It can be patted thin if you like yours with a good amount of chew and crunch. Or thicker for a more substantial bread. You’ll still have that outer crunch that we all love but the interior will be quite a bit softer. The drizzle of olive oil and scattering of herbs are key to the bread’s delicious flavor.
Focaccia with rosemary (focaccia al rosmarino as it is known in Italy) is a common focaccia style in Italian cuisine that may be served as an antipasto, appetizer, table bread, or snack. This is my take on that traditional bread with the addition of Asiago cheese, sliced plum tomatoes and halved pitted kalamata olives.
This is one of those recipes where you can save some of your valuable time without adversely affecting the outcome. Feel free to use that store-bought refrigerated pizza dough. Or make your own. Your choice. We have an Italian bakery near us that sells their raw pizza dough. It is delicious and, as a result, my homemade pizzas and flatbreads are awesome. No need to think about it …it’s a no-brainer.
Once the dough has rested and risen, spread the dough evenly on a pan that’s been lightly brushed with olive oil. The size of the pan will determine how thick your focaccia will be. We like the thicker version, so I use an old 8″ by 13″ pan for about a pound of dough. If you find that it is difficult to get the dough to take the shape of the pan, set the whole thing aside for about 10 or 20 minutes so the dough can rest some more. It should be more cooperative with the additional downtime.
Here’s another time-saver …why not purchase shredded Asiago cheese? It may be a bit more expensive, but it is so convenient.
The prepared dough is brushed lightly with olive oil then the layering begins. Start off with some shredded cheese and fresh rosemary, then add the sliced tomatoes and halved olives. Finish it off with the remainder of the cheese and rosemary. Don’t be tempted to add salt …there’s plenty of that with the cheese and olives.
After a brief rest, pop it in the oven. Wait until you see how great the aroma is coming from your kitchen. So good.
Let the focaccia cool slightly in the pan, then cut it into pieces …small or large, depending on your taste. Serve and enjoy while still warm.
cheesy focaccia with tomatoes & olives
Thick and crusty flatbread topped off with a generous layering of Asiago cheese, sliced plum tomatoes & halved kalamata olives.
- 16 ounces prepared pizza dough
- extra virgin olive oil, for brushing
- 5 ounces Asiago cheese, grated
- 3 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 11 ounces)
- 3 ounces pitted kalamata olives, halved
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
Lightly coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil. Place the prepared dough in the bowl and turn to coat all sides. Cover with a clean cloth and place it in a warm place to prove for about 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Coat an 8" by 13" rimmed baking sheet with olive oil. Place the dough on the sheet and spread it out to fully cover the bottom. (If you find that it is difficult to get the dough to take the shape of the pan, set the whole thing aside for about 10 or 20 minutes so the dough can rest some more.) Push down roughly on top of the dough like a piano to make lots of rough dips and wells.
Brush the top of the dough generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with half of the shredded Asiago cheese and fresh rosemary. Arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on top of the cheese. Place the halved olives evenly over the tomato slices. Finish off by sprinkling with the remaining shredded cheese and fresh rosemary. Allow the focaccia to rest for about 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden & crunchy on the top and soft in the middle. Allow the focaccia to cool in the pan for a few minutes. Cut into small pieces for serving. Enjoy while still warm.