If you’re getting a little tired of salads, here’s another great way to use the bounty of fresh summer greens. Though we frequently see it used as sandwich bread here in the United States, Focaccia was traditionally a regional flat bread, topped simply with salt, oil, and maybe one other local ingredient. The following recipe is my favorite version—a handful of peppery greens, roasted to a crisp, and liberally salted. (That’s not to say I won’t accept a focaccia sandwich, if you’re offering.) It’s an excerpt from my upcoming book SALT: The Essential Guide to Cooking with the Most Important Ingredient in Your Kitchen. (You can buy it here – B&N – and here Amazon )
Makes 4 individual focaccia
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1 ¾ teaspoon active dry yeast (1 package)
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons unrefined salt – try an Italian fiore de sal, a Japanese Shio, a Slovinean Fleur de Sel, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with lemon, roasted garlic, shallot, anchovy, red wine, horseradish, chiles, or tarragon
1 ½ – 2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
2 cups arugula, chopped, washed, and dried
2 cups chard, chopped, washed, and dried
1 cup kale, chopped, washed, and dried
1 clove garlic, minced
Grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
A bit more olive oil and salt to finish
- In a large bowl stir together water, honey, yeast, and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Use a fork to stir in whole-wheat flour to create a loose batter. Cover and set aside in a warm spot until it begins to bubble, 45-60 minutes. This is the sponge.
- Add to the sponge ½ cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and enough bread flour to create a firm dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour only as necessary to reduce stickiness. Knead 8-10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl, cover with a warm damp towel and set aside to rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450° F. Coat two baking sheets lightly with olive oil or pan spray, then sprinkle evenly with cornmeal. (This keeps it from sticking, but more importantly, gives the finished bread the illusion of having been cooked on an open hearth.) Turn risen dough out onto floured surface, and divide into four equal portions. Flatten each dough into ½ inch thick discs. This will take a few minutes, as the elastic dough will spring back a bit. Shape it, let it rest, then shape it again, until it is the size you want. Place the dough on to sheet pans (2 per pan), brush the surface with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes to proof. Meanwhile, toss the arugula, chard, and kale with a tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and generous pinch of salt.
- When the dough feels slightly puffed, unwrap and top each with dressed arugula salad. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Bake until the dough is golden brown and the greens are singed, about 10-20 minutes. Rotate pan as needed to promote even cooking. Serve immediately with a final pinch of salt.