Makes 16 6-Inch Rounds
Focaccia, a type of thin, crispy pizza, wears a different topping from one place to another in Italy. The more common focacce are sparsely covered with nothing more than a brushing of olive oil, slivers of garlic, and a dash of salt. These small versions, called focaccine, are rounds of dough speckled with a fine paste (battuto) or herbs, garlic, and olive oil. Accompanied by an assortment of cheeses, these make an ideal antipasto to be served with wine. They are equally satisfying as picnic food, and the perfect snack.
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 recipe Nonna's Sponge Dough
Place all the herbs and the garlic in a pile on a cutting board and finely mince them. Place the mixture in a small bowl, stir in the olive oil, salt, and pepper and mix well. Cover the bowl and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Lightly grease four large baking sheets.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 3 to 4 minutes, until smooth and no longer sticky. Divide the dough in half.
Roll one half of the dough into a 14-inch round. Spread half the herb mixture evenly over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle with half the cheese. Roll up tightly like a jellyroll, and pinch the seam closed. Roll the dough under your palms into a 16-inch-long log. Cut the log into 8 pieces. Knead each piece on the floured surface until the herbs are evenly distributed throughout the dough. Roll each piece into a 6-inch round. Place the focaccine on the greased baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each one. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 20 minutes. Repeat the process with the remaining dough, herb mixture, and cheese.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Bake the focaccine, in two batches, for 25 to 30 minutes, until they are golden brown. Cool the focaccine briefly on a cooling rack. Serve warm.
Note: These can be frozen after they're cooled completely. Wrap each one individually in aluminum foil and put in plastic bags. When ready to use, defrost, unwrapped, and heat in a preheated 325ºF oven for 5 minutes.
This recipe is from WHAT YOU KNEAD by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company Inc., in 1997.
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