Dressed up with shallots, artichoke hearts, olives, goat cheese and mozzarella; sprikled with oil and sea salt, focaccia is the perfect canvas for culinary experimentation
By Bev Bennett
However, don't be deterred if you have the urge for more. That blank canvas of dough begs for toppings.
You'll want to stop short of pizza territory. Unlike pizza, which is often an entree, focaccia is a snack or a mealtime accompaniment. Don't weight it down with sauce, thick cheese layers and meat.
Choose ingredients that complement the other flavors in your meal, and use them in modest amounts. Thinly sliced shallot, diced artichoke hearts packed in oil, roasted red peppers, olives, oil-packed sun-dried tomato slices and goat cheese are excellent covers for the bread.
And speaking of bread, you have a number of options for that as well.
You can prepare dough from scratch or take a short cut, starting with frozen, thawed bread dough. You'll find loaves of frozen dough in most supermarkets.
For a quick alternative to making your own bread, pick up a loaf of ciabatta, which is a long, wide and flat Italian bread. Top the bread, place it on a baking pan and run it under the broiler for a minute. Follow the same steps using a 7- to 9-inch pita bread as a substitute.
Use bread dough or one of the above suggestions to make cheese and olive focaccia for two. Add vegetable soup or a robust salad to round out the meal.
CHEESE AND OLIVE FOCACCIA
MAKES: 2 servings
Preparation time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool for 10 minutes. Cut in half to serve.
Note: Frozen bread dough usually comes in 1-pound loaves. Cut a loaf in half; return half to the freezer and thaw the remainder according to package directions, using the quick-thaw method.
Each serving has: 400 calories; 11 grams total fat; 16 grams protein; 57 grams carbohydrates; 9.5 milligrams cholesterol; 1141 milligrams sodium and 3.5 grams dietary fiber.
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