Today in the kitchen we’re taking a trip to Italy! My loaded focaccia is cheesy, flavorful, and easy to make. With mozzarella, homemade pesto, olives, and tomatoes, this focaccia is a dream Italian lunch.
I’ve spent a lot of time this past year virtually traveling through YouTube and blogs. I was reading old Europe posts by famed blogger Julia Berolzheimer when I saw it: the most delectable focaccia I’d ever seen. It’s the last photo in Julia’s Cinque Terre article. In the article she mentions grabbing focaccia for lunch and says, “Our favorite was the one layered in olive oil, pesto, mozzarella, tomatoes and olives.” I knew right then and there that I simply had to make the dish for myself so I tweaked my favorite focaccia recipe and it could not have turned out better!
I used my homemade pesto for this recipe. I made a ton of jars last summer when I had an abundance of basil in the garden. It tastes like summer in a jar! You can use store bought pesto in a pinch but try my pesto sometime if you haven’t yet. It freezes beautifully!
I made this for lunch for mom and myself at her lake house. To feel even more like we were on a chic Italian vacation, we ate this on a picnic blanket down by the water. Note: if I was serving this with dinner, I’d cut it into much smaller slices but since this was for lunch, I cut the focaccia into eight large slices to eat like an open-faced sandwich. Yum!
1 3/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)
1 packet active dry yeast (not instant)
1 Tbsp sugar
5-6 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp course sea salt
1 8 oz mozzarella ball
Handful cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp Kalamata Olives
- Whisk together yeast and sugar with warm water in a small bowl until dissolved. Let sit for ten minutes or until foamy. If yeast is not foamy, start over.
- Whisk together five cups of flour with 1 Tbsp of salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add yeast mixture and 1/2 cup olive oil and mix with the dough hook attachment on low speed until the dough comes together. Add additional flour if the dough is too sticky. Mix on medium speed for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth.
- Knead the dough by hand on a flour surface until it comes together in a ball.
- Coat the inside of the mixing bowl with a bit of olive oil and return dough to bowl. Cover with a damp towel and place in a warm place, like a sunny windowsill, for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Coat a large jelly roll sheet (a rimmed baking sheet) with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Transfer dough to baking sheet and gently spread it out using your hands until it’s dimpled and completely fills the pan. Cover the pan with a damp towel and let dough rise until doubled, about one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Sprinkle focaccia with course sea salt. Slice mozzarella and layer on focaccia with whole cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, and pesto. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and pop in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board to slice. Enjoy!
This recipe was featured in an episode of The Rose Table. Watch it now:
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Thank you, Julia, for the inspiration.
Tu fai la bella vita,
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