Focaccia w/ Olives and Italian Bean Spread

This was my BIG WIN in an otherwise relatively boring food week. I love this stuff. I’ve made the bean spread twice already, once for a guest. I’m working on another batch along with another focaccia. I can’t possibly convey how much I love this stuff. Seriously.

I’ve eaten quite a lot of hummus in recent history, so this new version of “bean stuff” seemed like a really tasty relative. Oh yes. I love the light fluffy texture provided by the potato. I adore the onion and garlic. I’m in new love with oregano. It’s all so good. I can imagine countless versions with different additions and herbs, but for now I’m sticking with this original. Too tasty.

Focaccia, “naan”, french bread, bread sticks, pizza dough….. It’s all the same recipe in this house. I use my standard french dough recipe for all of it. The only difference is the way it’s shaped and prepared. Focaccia is basically a double thick pizza dough lightly topped with oil, herbs, salt, etc. This version included garlic, lemon and orange zest and juice, along with a variety of olives. Need I say more????? The lemon and orange were the perfect partners to the olives. So yummy.

Now that I’ve embarrassed myself by gushing about bread and beans….here are the recipes. (I adapted these from one of my favorite little cookbooks, Easy Summer Food.)

Focaccia w/ Olives
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 2 cups unbleached white flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat or spelt flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of lemon and ½ orange
  • coarse salt
  • ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup mixed olives (pitted)
  1. Preheat oven and pizza stone to 400.
  2. Add water, sugar, and yeast to mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve. Add flours, garlic, 1 TB olive oil, 1 tsp salt. Mix and knead with dough hook for 5 minutes on low setting.
  3. Lightly oil the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap in the mixing bowl. Allow to rise at least an hour.
  4. Form dough into a pizza sized disc. Transfer to pizza stone. Use fingers to make deep dimples. Press olives into dough. Drizzle with juices and sprinkle zest. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly drizzle with oil.
  5. Optional: Sprinkle with rosemary or oregano leaves.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Italian Bean Spread
  • 2 (heaping) cups cannelini beans (cooked and drained)
  • 1 onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • several sprigs oregano (approximately ¼ cup leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 TB vegetable stock or water
  • 1 potato
  1. Peel and cube potato. Cover with water in pot. Bring to boil and cook until tender.
  2. Heat oil in pan. Rough chop onion and garlic. Add to oil. Cook until tender and lightly caramelized on medium/low setting.
  3. Add all ingredients to food processor. Pulse and whiz until creamy but just slightly chunky.

I goofed and bought olives that included some with pits. I was pleasantly surprised that my favorite new gadget this year, a cherry pitter, worked like a charm!

I served these together because they seemed like perfect partners. It was delicious. I also served the spread with a fresh baguette and a salad. Also yum. When serving the focaccia tonight with the bean spread I think I will also include a second dipper of simple marinara along with a salad. Mmmmmmmmmm

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