Grape Focaccia

Autumn, Savory Recipes • 7 Dec 2009


I’m always pleasantly surprised to sit down at a restaurant and find a bread basket filled with salty, warm focaccia instead of the ubiquitous hunks of nondescript bread that fill the stomach while leaving the soul empty. I can think of nothing better to start a meal than this soft and spongy Italian specialty, its moon-like craters filled with hot pools of olive oil, coated in an inviting layer of crusty salt and crispy herbs.

And with the holidays upon us, I begin a treasure hunt for inspired recipes and flavor combinations, familiar and homey, but with a twist. This focaccia recipe is utterly simple to assemble, yet the interplay of flavors- sweet and fruity grapes and sea salt, tangy shallots and earthy rosemary- give way to synergistic bread, a marriage of aromas and tastes more dynamic than the sum of its individual parts.

The flavor combination is traditionally Italian. I used both red and green grapes as that is what I had in stock. If using sea salt, be sparse- a little goes a long way.

Requiring only premade pizza dough, there is no need to slave away with packets of yeast and no need to massage the dough. This recipe is like a holiday recipe in itself: simplicity gift-wrapped and served-up in the form of piping hot, springy bread that packs a serious flavor punch.

Grape Focaccia

1 pound pizza dough, preferably from your local pizzeria
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 1/2 cups grapes
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Honey for drizzling

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll the pizza dough into a rectangle on sheet of parchment paper or a silpat. Place the dough and parchment paper (or silpat) on a baking sheet.

2. Brush the dough with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic, shallot and rosemary. Spread the grapes evenly on dough and push slightly into the dough. Drizzle honey to taste.

3. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden.

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