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.
Italian Sandwich on Za'atar Focaccia
- 1 cup warm water 100-110 degrees F
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za'atar seasoning
Roasted red pepper sauce
- 2 bell peppers
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup walnuts toasted
- salt and pepper
Lemony olive tapenade
- ½ cup green olives
- 1 tablespoon capers
- ¼ cup parsley fresh
- juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup arugula
- 6 ounces prosciutto
- 6 ounces salami
- 4 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
- Make the za'atar focaccia bread. Combine 1 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon sugar and 1 tablespoon active dry yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture is foamy.
- Mix the yeast mixture with 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Knead the dough until smooth, about 5-7 minutes. Cover and proof until double in size, about 1 hour.
- Punch down the dough. Pour 2 tablespoon in a quarter baking sheet pan (9x13 inches) and transfer the dough to the pan. Gently spread the dough to fill the pan. Use your fingers and make indentations in the dough. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil on top and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon za'atar seasoning. Let rest for 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Bake the focaccia bread for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool.
- Make the roasted red pepper sauce. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F. Roast 2 bell peppers until softened and slightly blackened, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the bell peppers in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes. Remove the wrap and peel the blackened skin off the bell peppers.
- Blend the roasted peppers with ¼ cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon garlic, the juice of ½ lemon, and ¼ cup toasted walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Make the lemony olive tapenade. Blend together all of the ingredients including ½ cup green olives, 1 tablespoon capers, ¼ cup parsley, the juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup olive oil, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble the sandwiches. Slice the focaccia bread in half vertically. Spread the red pepper sauce on the bottom bread and top with arugula, prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, and olive tapenade. Top with the remaining bread. Serve.
**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!
For more sandwich inspiration check out this tuna nicoise sandwich!