It all came about because of the grapes. During my brief pit stop in Oklahoma recently, I strolled up to the grape vines we have growing along trellises in the middle of the garden to see how they were fairing. When we first planted them, we encouraged them to grow up and over a large arbor made from old oil pipe and goat fencing. The grapes refused to comply with our wishes – though a few adventurous vines reached the top, peeked over and realized they suffered from acrophobia. So we pruned the plants back, built trellises and crossed our fingers. Amazingly, the vines did much better with their new growing and clinging environment and we now had bunches of plump grapes to prove it.
I harvested a big batch of purple and green grapes and wondered what to do with them other than eat them straight up. Then I remembered seeing a recipe for grape pie. Well, grape pie wasn’t going to happen, but the idea inspired me to try roasting the grapes. Roasting the grapes led to thinking about using them for a kind of bruschetta which in turn led to baking up a quick and easy foccacia with fresh sage and olives – both of which I thought would nicely complement the sweet, juicy grapes. One note of caution: be sure to use seedless grapes. I discovered this the hard way, after I’d already roasted the grapes and took my first bite. Crunch.
Sage & Kalamata Olive Focaccia
Makes ~12 big chunks
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp. regular yeast
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water
1 tsp. regular yeast
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
~3 tbsp. fresh sage, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olive, sliced
fresh sage, chopped, for topping
1 tsp. kosher salt, for topping
Make the sponge:
In a large bowl, pour the water and stir in the yeast. Let stand until bubbly and cloudy. Stir in the flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
Make the focaccia:
In a small bowl, combine the water and yeast and let sit until bubbly and cloudy. Pour into the large bowl with the sponge and add the olive oil. Stir in one cup of flour and then the sage, salt and sliced olives. Add the remaining flour and mix well – make sure there are no dry, floury lumps. The batter will be wet, sticky and heavy. Do not add more flour – you are not going to be kneading this dough.
Lightly oil another large bowl and using a bowl scraper, pour the dough into the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for an hour or so.
Lightly oil an 11″ x 17″ baking sheet. Transfer the dough onto the baking sheet and using oiled hands, press the dough to cover the pan. Let the dough rest for about 10 minutes, then press the dough again – it tends to want to shrink and bounce back – until the pan is completely covered. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 425F. Position an oven rack to the center.
When dough has risen, gently press fingertips into dough to create indents. Sprinkle the dough with the chopped sage and kosher salt, spritz lightly with olive oil and bake for about 25 minutes. Focaccia should be browned on the top and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool slightly before cutting. Serve with Sweet & Savory Roasted Grapes, if desired (see below for recipe).
Sweet & Savory Roasted Grapes
Mix of purple or red and green (seedless…) grapes, about 4 cups
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. vegetable broth
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt & ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Mix everything together on a big baking sheet and roast the grapes for 20-25 minutes or until soft, fragrant and juicy. Allow to cool slightly before serving.