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Focaccia or pizza Bianca as it’s also known as a kind of Italian flatbread. It is sometimes compared to pizza in terms of taste and texture, however, focaccia bread is very much its own thing. If you’ve never had it before, you may be wondering what to serve with focaccia bread or indeed whether you should serve it as a main or side dish. Don’t fret though, all will be revealed below.
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What’s So Special About Focaccia Bread?
Focaccia bread is an Italian variation of flatbread that is incredibly versatile. Depending on how chefs or home cooks choose to make and serve it, focaccia can work excellently as a main or side dish and even as a dessert.
Additionally, due to being a flatbread, focaccia is a much simpler bread to make than a traditional loaf of bread. This is because focaccia dough doesn’t need shaping into a traditional loaf shape. It can also be cooked on a regular baking sheet pan or pizza pan and can be made relatively quickly.
Is Focaccia Bread Healthier Than Regular Bread?
The answer to whether Focaccia bread is healthier than regular bread is not quite as simple as yes or no. Focaccia bread is lower in sugar content than many other types of bread.
However, it typically has a larger number of calories due to higher fat and salt contents. The reason for this is because focaccia bread is typically baked in large amounts of olive oil.
However, typically focaccia is not eaten in as large quantities as other bread. This is because it is often used as a side that is meant to accompany a larger meal such as a salad or with deli meats. Additionally, by comparison to other bread-like challah and brioche, focaccia is fairly low on the glycemic index.
Do You Serve Focaccia Warm?
Focaccia bread typically has a crispy crust and soft interior. As such, it is also best served warm since when it cools the inside can firm up and quickly become stale if left too long.
This isn’t to say that focaccia can’t be eaten cold, however. Cold focaccia can make excellent sandwich bread. A focaccia sandwich can be eaten either as a traditional sandwich or “open facing”.
What Is The Best Way To Serve Focaccia?
Focaccia can be served in a variety of ways from the main part of a light lunch to the appetizer or dessert of a large dinner.
Really the number of options you can explore with focaccia bread is incredibly broad with each Italian region having its own variations. As such the examples below are only some of your potential avenues.
Plain Focaccia Bread
To call this focaccia bread “plain” is something of a misnomer. Really what is meant by plain is that this focaccia has been baked without additional toppings. When done in this manner, the rich tastes of garlic and olive oil really stand out.
Typically seasonings will be sprinkled atop a “plain” focaccia bread that compliments the garlic-infused olive oil. Some recipe examples include an Italian herbs mix, thyme or rosemary focaccia.
Focaccia Bread With Toppings
Like with plain focaccia bread, focaccia with toppings will typically have garlic and rosemary seasoning. However, here they will play second fiddle to the added toppings.
Some popular focaccia topping examples will include mozzarella or parmesan cheese, red peppers and cherry tomatoes. Additionally, some commonly known variants of focaccia with toppings include sliced new potato and onion focaccia or a mozzarella and tomato focaccia that is rather close to pizza.
As mentioned above focaccia can make for excellent sandwich bread. A focaccia sandwich can either be had the traditional way or “open facing”.
For a traditional focaccia sandwich, it is recommended to slice a piece of focaccia into thinner slices to make the top and bottom of your sandwich. This is because using two pieces of focaccia would make for a particularly thick and slightly heavy sandwich.
An open facing focaccia sandwich is simply a sandwich that doesn’t have a top piece of bread. Instead, the bottom piece of bread will likely be thicker. As such, an intact piece of focaccia bread will make an ideal bread choice.
Sweet Focaccia Bread
An unusual but well loved focaccia variant is focaccia dolce or sweet focaccia. Instead of the traditional olive oil and garlic, sweet focaccia will contain raisins, honey, nuts or a myriad of other sweet ingredients with a sprinkling of sugar on top.
What Are Some Good Dishes To Serve With Focaccia Bread?
Focaccia bread can make an excellent main dish by itself. However, a slice can also elevate another main dish when used as an accompaniment. Below are some excellent examples of dishes that can be served with focaccia bread.
A classic combination is a bowl of soup and a piece of warm crusty bread. As such focaccia is an excellent choice to pair with any soup as it has a delicious crusty exterior and delicate soft interior.
Additionally, focaccia’s nature as a flatbread will also help to keep things rather light whilst adding extra flavour from the olive oil and garlic.
A couple of slices of focaccia can make an excellent accompaniment to any salad. This is particularly true however with salads that contain olives, cherry tomatoes and caramelised onions. The focaccia provides an excellent complementary flavour to these ingredients without making the meal too heavy.
When making a picnic or charcuterie board, focaccia is an excellent bread to include as an accompaniment. This is because focaccia is quite light in texture despite the crispy exterior. This makes it an excellent bread choice for use as finger food.
The distinct flavouring and light texture of focaccia can make it an excellent addition to any breakfast. Whether simply having toast, a full English breakfast or a Mediterranean breakfast, a slice or two of focaccia can massively enhance the taste.
What Can I Do With Leftover Focaccia Bread?
If you’ve got leftover focaccia that has gone or is going stale, then you still have some options for using it for delicious ingredients in many different meals.
If you’re a regular eater of salads or soup, then turning your leftover focaccia into croutons is a brilliant idea. Croutons add a delicious crunchy texture to salads and soup. Focaccia croutons do this whilst adding the extra flavours of olive oil, garlic and any other seasonings you’ve used.
When blended in a food processor or ground by hand, focaccia can make excellent bread crumbs. These bread crumbs will add extra flavour to any recipe which calls for bread crumbs through the olive oil, garlic and additional seasoning used in the original recipe.
Focaccia stuffing made with ingredients such as mushrooms, pancetta and caramelised onions is a particularly tasty treat. This stuffing is an excellent accompaniment to any roast and will elevate the overall flavour of the main meat of choice.
If you have leftover sweet focaccia, then it is the perfect main ingredient for bread pudding. This makes for a particularly flavourful bread pudding as it already contains many ingredients you would naturally include such as honey and raisins.
Ultimately, when serving focaccia, you can very easily adapt it to your own tastes and preferences. If like me, you enjoy making your own pizza, using focaccia as your base can create something wonderfully delicious and unique. Alternatively, you can enjoy it as part of a traditional or open facing sandwich.
However you plan on using focaccia though, you’ll soon find it becoming a recurring staple of your diet as you’ll constantly be after an excuse for one more slice.