Focaccia With Squash Ribbons, Walnuts, & Gorgonzola Crumbles


This week may seem like winter squash week here on Italian Food Forever, and the reason for that is that I was a little too greedy shopping for squash last week. I had squash sitting all over my countertop and needed to start using them up. Over the past few days, I made Roasted Butternut Squash With Dried Cranberries & Walnuts, Creamy Goat Cheese Pasta With Pancetta & Squash (recipe coming soon!), and this tasty Focaccia With Squash Ribbons, Walnuts, & Gorgonzola Crumbles. I cannot seem to get enough of squash lately it seems!

I usually make focaccia every week, and though I usually make a basic plain focaccia that we can use as bread to serve with meals, or for sandwiches.  Sometimes though, I just want to experiment, and I throw on some toppings depending on what I have on hand. For this focaccia, I had a small Kabocha squash, which is also called a Japanese pumpkin that I decided to cut into thin ribbons to use as a topping. I simply peeled the squash, scooped out the seeds, and then used a vegetable peeler to cut the squash into ribbons. Because sage and squash are a wonderful flavor combination, I picked some fresh sage leaves from my herb garden also. After baking the focaccia halfway, I added some chopped walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, and a drizzle of chestnut honey that I brought back from Corsica. I decided to divide my dough into two pieces and shaped two round focaccia about 12 inches wide. You could also simply press the dough into a 13 x 9 inch pan instead. After breaking my wrist last month I have had to learn to knead my dough one handed, and I must say that I am getting pretty good at it! This would be a great option when entertaining this fall sliced into thin pie shaped pieces and served with a glass of sparkling wine.

Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 2015

Focaccia With Squash Ribbons, Walnuts, & Gorgonzola Crumbles

Ingredients:

Focaccia Dough:

  • 5 Cups All-purpose Unbleached Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Instant Active Dry Yeast
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Plus 2 Additional Tablespoons To Oil Bowl)
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Warm Water

Toppings:

  • 3 to 4 Cups Thinly Sliced Squash Ribbons (See Notes Above), Tossed With 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 10 Fresh Sage Leaves
  • Cracked Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Walnuts
  • 1 Cup Gorgonzola Crumbles
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Chestnut Honey (Optional)

Directions:

  1. Measure and assemble your flour, oil, salt, yeast, and water.
  2. Add everything but the water into a large bowl and stir.
  3. Add half the water and stir.
  4. Continue to add water until the dough begins to come together into a shaggy ball.
  5. Dump the dough mixture onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead with the heels of your hand.
  6. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and pliant.
  7. Add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to the bottom of a large bowl and place your ball of dough inside.
  8. Roll the ball of dough around in the oil ensuring the sides of the bowl and ball of dough are both lightly oiled.
  9. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise. (I cover mine with a kitchen towel on top of the plastic wrap and sit it on a large sunny windowsill.)
  10. Let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about an hour or an hour and a half depending on ambient temperature.
  11. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then lightly oil.
  12. Dump your risen dough into the pan punching it down to deflate it.
  13. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, then press into rounds about 12 to 14 inches in diameter.
  14. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  15. Drizzle about 1/4 of a cup of olive oil over the top of each dough round.
  16. Arrange the squash ribbons over the top of each circle of dough.
  17. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the top of your focaccia, and let it sit to rise again for 15 minutes.
  18. Bake for 15 minutes then remove from the oven.
  19. Sprinkle the top of each focaccia with half the walnuts and the cheese crumbles.
  20. Bake another 10 minutes or until the focaccia rounds are golden brown.
  21. As soon as the focaccia comes out of the oven, drizzle each with a tablespoon of chestnut honey.
  22. Sprinkle the focaccia with some cracked black pepper, then cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
  23. Cut each focaccia into slices, and enjoy!