Eggplant Focaccia With Ricotta and Olives
A generous amount of olive oil in the dough gives this flatbread its especially crisp edges, and a soft, bready crumb. The topping, a mix of thinly sliced eggplant slathered with garlic-imbued olive oil and minced olives, is silky, rich and very flavorful — even without the optional (but excellent) anchovies. Just as good devoured warm from the oven and as it is at room temperature, this makes perfect picnic fare. Or serve it with a leafy salad for a light but satisfying dinner.
- Serves: 8 persons
- ⅓cup/80 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
- ¾cup/180 milliliters lukewarm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1 ½teaspoon/5 grams active dry or instant yeast
- 1teaspoon/5 grams granulated sugar
- 1 ½teaspoon/10 grams kosher salt
- 2 ¼cups/305 grams bread flour, plus more as needed
- ¾pound eggplant, thinly sliced
- ¼teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼cup pitted olives
- ¼cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1fat garlic clove, minced or finely grated
- 5anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional)
- 1tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
- ⅔cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- ⅓cup fresh ricotta, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
- Torn fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Step 1Oil a large bowl and set aside. (This is for the rising dough.)
Step 2Add water to another large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over. Let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 3Stir 1/3 cup oil and salt into yeast mixture. Stir in flour until a soft, shaggy dough forms.
Step 4If kneading by hand, turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or knead in a stand mixer equipped with the dough hook for 3 to 5 minutes. The dough is ready when it’s elastic but somewhat sticky and damp. If the dough seems unmanageable and won’t come off your hands, add more flour, a little at a time.
Step 5Place dough in the oiled bowl and turn to coat it lightly with oil. Cover bowl with a plate or plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Step 6While dough is rising, make the topping: Combine eggplant and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Step 7Mince half of the olives and slice the other half.
Step 8In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup oil over medium. Add garlic, stirring constantly, and heat until opaque, about 1 minute. Add the minced olives and anchovies, if using. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring, until the oil is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and pour oil over eggplant. Add thyme or oregano and toss until evenly coated. Set aside and cool completely before using.
Step 9Lightly oil an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Working on a floured surface, roll dough into an 11-by-16-inch rectangle, then transfer it to the oiled baking sheet and press the dough to the sides. Cover with a damp cloth and let rest for 30 minutes.
Step 10Heat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant slices evenly over dough, and scatter tomatoes and sliced olives on top. Drizzle any leftover oil from the bottom of the eggplant bowl on pizza.
Step 11Bake until edges and underside are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Step 12Using a spoon, top with dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and basil leaves on top, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve warm or at room temperature.