We don’t eat out very often but when we do, we’re very picky. One of my favorite places for a quick, fresh meal is Panera Bread. Panera makes wonderful salads and soups, and of course, lots of lovely bread. That’s where I got the inspiration for this Mediterranean Sandwich on Tomato Basil Focaccia. I’ve been trying to come up with a tomato sandwich bread but for some reason it doesn’t seem to click. The whole wheat is fighting with the tomato and the savory aspects aren’t coming through. After a couple of edible (but not blogable) loaves, I thought I’d try a focaccia round instead. Bingo – the tomato and basil flavors are very happy now!
Focaccia is a very simple yeast bread often made in 13×9″ pans and cut into squares. I wanted to make a thicker round to use for sandwiches so these were baked in 8″ round cake pans.
While experimenting with tomato bread recipes I tried canned tomatoes and fresh but found tomato paste yields the best results.
Tomato paste is concentrated so the color and flavors are there without being watered down. I loaded up on the fresh basil too – yum!
This focaccia makes a wonderful sandwich too! Layered with homemade spicy jalapeño cilantro hummus, tomatoes (you can never have too many tomatoes) cucumbers, sliced red onion, diced peppedews, lettuce and Feta cheese. I believe this qualifies as a Meatless-Monday dinner!
My husband and I both loved this sandwich. We also loved the jalapeño cilantro hummus so that recipe will post later this week. I hope you’ll come back and check it out.
- For the Focaccia:
- 2¼ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (1 - ¼ ounce package)
- 1 cup lukewarm water (95-100 degrees)
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 3½ to 4 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup diced fresh basil
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- For the sandwich:
- Tomatoes, sliced
- ½ cup Feta cheese
- Cucumbers, sliced
- ¼ cup sliced red onion
- ⅔ cup Jalapeno Cilantro Hummus
- ½ cup diced Peppedews (a sweet and hot pepper found on olive bars in your local grocery store)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water, honey and yeast. Stir gently to combine. Let the mixture rest until the yeast blooms and bubbles form on top, about 10 minutes. Add 3 cups of the flour, ¼ cup of olive oil, the chopped basil, tomato paste and kosher salt. Mix on low until the ingredients are combined.
- Turn the mixer on medium and continue to blend until the dough is smooth, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add another ½ cup of the flour and blend until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Add the remaining ½ cup of flour if needed, ¼ cup at a time. The dough will be a little sticky but that's okay.
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough rest in a warm, draft-free location until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and cut in half. Press the dough into two lightly oiled 8" cake pans. Using your fingers, poke holes in the dough then drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, one on each round.
- Let the focaccia rest again until the dough becomes puffy, about 20 minutes.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the loaves are lightly browned. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.
- For the sandwiches, cut one loaf in half horizontally. Spread the hummus on both of the cut sides, then layer with the remaining sandwich ingredients.
- Slice the loaf into forths and serve immediately.
Another weekend has flown by! I hope you’ll stop by later this week to check out our wonderful Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus. It’s a winner and already a favorite in our house. Thanks so much for stopping by!