May 18, 2022
One of my favorite things about Italian cuisine is that it’s so regional. As you travel from one region to the next across the country, you will find that the cuisine changes dramatically depending on the location, climate and people of the region. Although I have chosen to make Umbria our home, I have always loved Puglia and over the years we try to visit Puglia as often as possible. The cuisine of Apulia is not only a beautiful region, but also particularly unique and, like Umbria, arose from the Cucina Povera. Potatoes are an important ingredient used in Puglia, found in soups, pasta dishes and even bread. Mashed potato focaccia has a very tender texture and a subtle flavor that is delicious. In Bari, focaccia is often made with mashed potatoes and then topped with ripe tomatoes, oregano, olive oil and sometimes olives.
This focaccia makes a great accompaniment to soup, can be enjoyed as a snack throughout the day and is wonderfully sliced and packed for a picnic. I didn’t have a large round baking pan here in Umbria, so I just used my 12″ springform pan so my focaccia was a little smaller and thicker than I wanted, but it still tasted great. I also used the tomatoes I had on hand and I happened to have a large bowl of cherry tomatoes that were very ripe so I used those. Any fresh, ripe tomato works well for this focaccia, and when tomatoes aren’t in season, you can even use a can of drained tomatoes to get most of the liquid out. Just break open the canned tomatoes with your fingers before adding them to the focaccia.
Olives are sometimes used in this focaccia, and because I love olives as much as I do, I decided to include them. I always keep a few jars of Taggiasca olives on hand, so I used those. Kalamata or any other aromatic olive will work well. Some recipes for this focaccia include semolina flour along with white flour, but I chose to use regular flour instead. Wrapped up, the addition of the potatoes keeps this focaccia good for a couple of days, and it also freezes well if you want to freeze half to enjoy later.
Enjoy your meal!
Deborah Mele 2022
For the focaccia:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 medium potato, peeled, boiled and mashed
1 tablespoon Rapid Rise yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup pitted olives (optional)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons olive oil
coarse sea salt
- In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, potatoes, oil, and salt, then add just enough warm water to form a dough.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 to 7 minutes or until smooth and glossy.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
- Place the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Lightly oil a 14-inch round baking pan and press in the batter to fit.
- Press your fingertips across the top of the dough to create indentations.
- Place the olives and tomatoes on the dough, then sprinkle with oregano and coarse salt.
- Drizzle with olive oil, let rest for 30 minutes and then bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.
- Cool to room temperature before slicing.