I recently connected with Rossella Rago, author of the Cooking with Nonna cookbook, and she was kind enough to send me a copy (thanks, Rossella!). The cookbook features over 100 classic Italian recipes (such as Sicilian Rice Balls, Fried Calamari, Ricotta Cookies), along with advice and stories from 25 Italian grandmothers. Such a fun and sweet concept!
There are SO many recipes I want to make, but first I tried out her Focaccia alla Barese to pair with dinner this weekend. I love focaccia – it has a crispy texture on the outside and is soft and chewy on the inside. The recipe struck my eye with the added Roma tomatoes and oregano – it’s such a pretty touch – perfect to serve during the holiday season as well.
It takes some time to prepare (you are making homemade bread after all) so give yourself a few hours and make sure you have a warm spot in your kitchen for the dough to rise (I turned on my “keep warm” setting on the oven and placed the bowl of dough over the vent). Once baked, slice and eat either on it’s own or with some fresh whipped ricotta spread on top (yum!).
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 packet (1/4 oz or 7 g) active dry yeast
- ¾ cup warm water
- 2 cups 00 or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting your hands
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 Roma/plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
- ¼ or ½ teaspoon dried oregano (depending on how much you like)
- Maldon sea salt flakes to taste
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the oil, yeast and water. Let stand until the yeast is dissolved, 5-8 minutes
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt
- With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour to the yeast mixture
- Mix until a smooth, supple dough forms, 8-10 minutes
- Dust your hands with flour, and transfer dough to a bowl brushed with olive oil
- Brush the dough with more olive oil
- Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm location for 1 hour, or until doubled in size. Tip: I put on the "keep warm" setting on my oven and placed the bowl over the vent
- Dust your hands with flour and punch down dough once risen
- Next, add 4 tablespoons of the olive oil to a 12-inch round cast iron pan (you can also use a pizza pan) and spread it evenly, making sure you coat the bottom and sides of pan
- Add flour to your hands and spread the dough to the edges of the pan with your fingers, starting from the center and working your way out
- Place sliced tomatoes around the dough and top with a drizzle of olive oil
- Sprinkle oregano over the entire surface, followed by a sprinkle of the sea salt flakes
- Cover pan with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for another hour
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees and bake for 15-35 min, until golden brown. Note depending on your pan, baking time will change. I used a cast iron pan and it was finished in about 15 minutes. Keep your eye on it!
- Remove from pan, slice and enjoy