Wholewheat Focaccia with Pesto & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Focaccia

I am a HUGE bread lover! So is my dad and so is my sister…its somewhat genetic. I go to restaurants that serve complimentary bread with dips and oil and embarrassingly so wipe out the entire basket of free bread. My only comfort- I know there are others like me out there!

Focaccia is one of those breads where you don’t really need the stand mixer and you also don’t need to knead the dough for very long – just a few minutes. You can play with the toppings and get creative. In this recipe the dimpled surface of the bread holds the pesto in it while it bakes and when you eat the bread after it bakes, there are these little pockets filled with pesto. I used store bought pesto but feel free to make it at home with whatever ingredients you like. These days there are many variations of pesto recipe available online. You could also use za’tar instead of pesto!

Today I did a wholewheat version of this bread and the flavors of the wholewheat flour combined with the pesto turned out to be really nice. I paired the bread with a sauce made with roasted red bell peppers and roasted cherry tomatoes. The sauce is sweet because of the roasted bell peppers and compliments the nutty flavors of the bread really well. This sauce can also be used as a dipping sauce for other things, or can be used as a pasta sauce. If you play around with the ratio of tomatoes and bell pepper a little, it would make pretty delicious tomato soup.

The bread is vegan friendly and needs a few ingredients….its a perfect thing to make for appetizer when you’ve got company!

Focaccia

Focaccia

 

Focaccia

Focaccia

 

Serving 3 to 4 people

Cooking time 15 minutes plus resting and baking

Ingredients

For Focaccia

1 3/4 cup wholewheat flour

1/4 cup good quality olive oil

2 tsp dry active yeast

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1/4 cup pesto

  1. In a bowl add yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup lukewarm water to activate the yeast.
  2. In a large bowl add flour, salt and 1 to 2 tbsp of olive oil. Roughly mix with your clean fingers.
  3. Add the activated yeast liquid and start kneading the dough.
  4. Used 1 tbs of warm water at a time to bring the dough together.
  5. Knead the dough for about 4 to 5 minutes and transfer it in a lightly oiled bowl.
  6. Keep the bowl in a warm spot covered with a towel for about an hour or till the dough doubles in size.
  7. Once the dough has doubled, gently press it with your finger to knock the air out.
  8. Transfer the dough into an 8×8 square baking tray that has been generously oiled with olive oil and using your finger tips press the dough down while spreading it at the same time. You want the dough to become a square shape and evenly spread out in the baking tray. Press your fingertips into it to get the classic dimpled character of the bread.
  9. Smear the pesto and spread it in a uniform layer.
  10. Cover the tray and rest the bread again (covered) for 20 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven at 375 F and bake the bread for about 20 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and cool before cutting it into shapes of your desire.
  13. Serve warm!

Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce

2 red bell pepper

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

salt

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried basil

2 tsp chopped up red chili (optional)

  1. Roast the bell peppers in the oven or stove top (with flame) till charred from all sides.
  2. Place the peppers in an airtight container for about 15 minutes with the lid on.
  3. Remove from the container and peel. Remove the seeds and pith from the peppers.
  4. Preheat the oven at 375 F.
  5. In a baking tray place cherry tomatoes and garlic. Drizzle about 1 tbsp oil and sprinkle some salt. Roll them around for an even coating of oil and salt. Bake for about 20 minutes. Remove and cool completely.
  6. In a blender add bell peppers, roasted tomatoes, dried basil, 1 tbsp olive oil and chilies and make a smooth puree. Taste to adjust seasoning.
  7. Serve at room temperature.