Stuffed Focaccia is one of my favorite picnic foods because my husband and I used to eat it often when we were first married. We got married on a lovely day in June just a week after I graduated from college. I had two months between getting married and landing my first “real” (post-college) job and I reveled in the freedom to read, bask in the sun and cook! I would prepare elaborate picnics and, after Ben got home from work, we’d head out to the local park and eat and talk and laugh all evening. Those two months are some of the most perfect of my life and this meal brings me right back to that beautiful summer. Tomorrow is our 8th wedding anniversary and, while our picnics are a little more hectic these days with two small kids running around, we still love walking to the park and eating al fresco.
Perhaps because of my history with this meal, I think of Stuffed Focaccia as a more romantic version of pizza. It is really almost as easy as making homemade pizza but needs one extra period of rising after it is filled. As far as fillings, almost anything you would put on a pizza tastes good in focaccia. Our favorite focaccia filling is probably mozzarella with salami and fresh basil, but I also made a vegetarian version this time with provolone, fresh tomato slices and fresh basil and it was amazing! Although this takes a few hours to prepare, I promise you will not be disappointed with the results; this is picnic food at its best. I usually serve some olives or Italian pickled vegetables (Gardiniera) with this but fresh fruit or a salad would also be wonderful.
- 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 packet instant yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- Fillings: Provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, salami, olives, tomatoes, fresh herbs or whatever you like
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the yeast. In a measuring cup, whisk together the warm water and olive oil then pour it into the well with the yeast. Let sit for 10 minutes or until the yeast is bubbly, then mix everything together with a wooden spoon until a moist dough forms.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it becomes elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide into two equal balls. Roll one ball out into a rectangle, approximately 10 X 15 inches. Transfer the rectangle of dough onto a large cookie sheet or sheet pan and top with desired fillings. Roll out the second ball of dough to a similar sized rectangle and place on top of fillings. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm location to rise for 45 minutes or until puffy. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425º.
- Once dough has risen for a second time, brush the top of the focaccia with olive oil and press a finger into the dough all over to give it a dimpled appearance. Bake at 425º for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into pieces of desired size.