Moving into the regional cooking of Basilicata was kind of exciting for me. For some reason, in doing the research on the food from this region, it really hit me that I've moved into the land of southern Italian cooking (really? figured that one out, did ya?). And yes, I've actually been making southern Italian cuisine for a few weeks now. Anyway, self mocking aside, southern Italian cooking is some of my favorite. It carries a lot of spice and because the area tends to be more poor than the north, the food relies heavily on things like pasta and rice. Something about it just brings me to life.
Basilicata in particular is the arch of the Italian boot (small dark purple region on my map). Formerly known as Lucania, this region's foods are very similar to that of Puglia. One typical food, particularly in the city of Matera, is Focaccia Bread. Now, I know I kind of covered this back when I was cooking food from Liguria. However, it seems that a lot of the Focaccia from Matera is graced with toppings such as the tomato and olive version that I made. In my mind, adding toppings makes it even more of an antipasto rather than just a side to a meal.
You may remember the actual recipe that I used for Focaccia Bread back in August from Liguria. I figured that this time I would try a new recipe and see how it went. The first recipe that I tried differs a little bit from the recipe that I used this time. Mainly, this new recipe uses some sugar in the dough. I personally preferred the sugar-less recipe from my previous post. This recipe was also a little more dense than the previous recipe, though that could easily have been a user issue. The tomatoes and olives were great though. Next time I might try cooking this on a lower temperature because the dough (as you can see) started to get pretty dark before the tomatoes had finished roasting. This likely has more to do with the fact that my oven is awful than the recipe itself. Overall, I really liked this recipe and the idea in general of adding toppings other than just rosemary to my focaccia!
Focaccia with Tomatoes and Olives
Adapted from Saveur
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can pitted black olives, halved
- In a bowl, mix together yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Let sit about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes foamy.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar, and salt. Form a well in the center. Add in the yeast mixture, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 cup warm water and combine completely. When a ball forms, knead on a slightly floured surface for about 10 minutes.
- Form the dough into a ball. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into a bowl. Put the ball of dough into the bowl and turn over to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit about 1 1/2 hours until the dough has risen. The dough will almost double in size.
- Grease a baking sheet or a pizza pan. Put the dough on the pan and use your fingers to form it into a 12 inch circle. Cover with a damp towel and let sit another hour.
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Make sure dough is in the desired shape. Top with tomatoes and olives, pressing them into the dough gently. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Bake 20-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool before serving.
Ryan'sSue's rating of Focaccia with Tomatoes and Olives - 4.