Tomato Arugula Focaccia

Foccacia 10
You all know that my absolute favourite food in the world is pizza. I have mentioned previously that I could eat it three times a day and not tire of it. I absolutely love it for breakfast served cold straight out of the fridge. Unfortunately, given that cheese is loaded with saturated fat, I limit my intake. So, what do I do when I’m craving my favourite food, but want to avoid the cheese? I default to focaccia, any and all kinds.

Focaccia is in no way inferior to pizza. However, because it doesn’t contain the cheese to mask all other flavours, it is absolutely essential that your toppings, albeit less, are of top quality. I love this tomato focaccia mainly because it allows my mother’s homemade tomato wedges to shine. Most people will try to tell me that the cheese makes a pizza. I disagree profoundly. For me, it’s the tomato sauce. Any cheese, even crappy cheese, is edible and a good mask for other even more inferior quality ingredients.

I always make my own pizza dough, but there are plenty available for purchase. What differentiates a pizza dough from the focaccia dough for me is the double rising. I normally let my focaccia dough rise twice. This always renders a higher and less dense dough. I can make this dish during the week because when I make pizza dough, I normally triple it up and freeze it for the next occasion.

The colours and juxtaposition of the charred tomato red and the vivid arugula green are visually striking. Quite Christmasy now that I think about it. There are two incredible combinations at play here: the sweetness of the tomato wedges is balanced by the peppery arugula, which both sit on a bed of hearty nutty spelt, versus the baked pizza (hot) and fresh arugula (cold). (In many ways, I prefer the fresh toppings over the cooked ones on pizza.) These interplays are all enveloped by a generous drizzle of a good olive oil somehow tying them all together. This is a perfect example of a dish in which the main ingredients, in this case, the tomatoes, olive oil, and arugula remain distinct, but somehow also combine for a greater (or at least great) good. This is Italian cooking at its best: a few simple ingredients, simply combined, all delicious in their own right, but somehow and even better together.

This is a quick and easy week night treat (if not making your own dough).

Serves 4

Ingredients:

 Dough, pizza, spelt  1
 Tomato, wedges, drained  16 oz
 Salt
 Oregano, dried  2 tsp
 Basil, dried  ½ tsp
 Olive oil  3 tbsp + more for drizzling
 Garlic, cloves, crushed  2
 Parmesan, grated
 Black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place tomato wedges in a strainer and let stand for 10 minutes until most of the water has drained.
  3. Grease a pizza sheet.
  4. Combine tomato wedges, salt, oregano, basil, olive oil and garlic thoroughly.
  5. Roll out dough and spread onto pizza sheet.
  6. Spread fresh tomato sauce over pizza dough.
  7. Sprinkle generously with grated Parmesan cheese.
  8. Sprinkle some black pepper over pizza.
  9. Drizzle with more olive oil.
  10. Bake pizza for 20-30 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, place arugula in a bowl and toss with a little bit of olive oil and salt.
  12. Remove pizza from oven. Allow to cool slightly.
  13. Top pizza with fresh arugula and serve.

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