Chances are if you picked up a new hobby during this quarantine, it was probably how to make homemade bread. All of a sudden, we had a boom of bakers overnight. The first thing I did with my homemade bread was to turn it into sandwiches. By now I have played around with sourdough bread, spelt bread, einkorn bread, and many, many different flavorings. Today, I’m going to sidestep a little bit and make focaccia bread as my sandwich vessels. We’re pulling out all the stops and making a delicious Italian sandwich on za’atar focaccia with lemony olive tapenade and roasted red pepper sauce. It is so darn good.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Out of all the bread out there, I think focaccia might be the easiest. It’s almost like a thick-cut pizza if you think about it. In fact, I use my pizza dough recipe to make this za’atar focaccia bread with just a couple of minor tweaks.
Make the dough for the bread and let it proof for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough and transfer it to a baking sheet prepared with olive oil. Gently spread the dough to fill the pan, making sure not to tear the dough. If it starts to shrink back as you pull it, let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Use your fingers to make the indentations that are iconic of focaccia bread and finish with more olive oil and za’atar seasoning. It may seem like a lot of olive oil but that’s what makes focaccia bread so amazing!
Bake the bread for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on both the top and bottom. Admire that beautiful crust on the bread. Isn’t she a beauty?
While the focaccia cools, prepare the toppings for the Italian sandwich. We’re going to make 2 different sauces for the sandwich including a roasted red pepper sauce and a lemony olive tapenade.
For the roasted red pepper sauce, roast the bell peppers until charred and softened. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, letting them steam. The steam will help release the skin, making it easier to remove later on. Blend those peppers with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, toasted walnuts, and season with salt and pepper.
Next, make the lemony olive tapenade. Simply blend or process all of the ingredients including the green olives, capers, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper. Easy peasy.
Assemble the Italian sandwiches on za’atar focaccia bread, stacking on the arugula, prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, and both sauces. Take a big bite into that glorious masterpiece and let your taste buds go wild. I love a great Italian sandwich and this one hit it out of the park. Sure it takes some effort but boy is it worth it!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.