Pizza Rustica (Focaccia Filled with Tomato, Onions & Olives)

By • August 5, 2015 3 Comments

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Author Notes: This is a simple dish, a classic example of Puglia's peasant cuisine. The key is the onions, which are sautéed so gently that they don't ever color; during baking, they turn deliciously jammy and sweet. It's also common to see one of the following additional ingredients in the filling: yellow tomatoes (a local tomato that is orange-yellow, small, sweet, and smooth), oregano, capers, tinned tuna, blanched bitter greens, or perhaps a touch of chile. But when making your own, resist going overboard with the add-ins and choose only one (if any): The humble onions are still going to be the hero.

This recipe is adapted from one by Ada Boni (Regional Italian Cooking, 1987) and she doesn't specify a dough recipe. You can use any basic bread or pizza dough that you prefer. The recipe I've provided is a very basic dough, easy to whip up and have ready in an hour if you don't have the time to leave it overnight.

A slow-rise no-knead dough that you can make the night before and pop in the fridge like this one would be great, too: https://food52.com/recipes/16641-jim-lahey-s-no-knead-pizza-dough-margherita-pie. Instead of trying to roll out or stretch the dough, just spread it around with an offset spatula or similar tool.
Emiko

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Serves 6 to 8 people as a snack

For the bread dough:

  • 1 cup (250 milliliters) tepid water
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons (5 grams) active dry yeast, or 20 grams fresh yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt

For the filling:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 3 medium yellow onions, peeled, cut in half, and thinly sliced
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 14 ounces (400 grams) canned peeled tomatoes
  • About 12 anchovy fillets in oil (30 grams), drained
  • 1/2 cup good quality black olives, pitted
  1. For the dough: If using dry yeast, just mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. If using fresh yeast, crumble it into 1/4 cup of the water and let sit for 5 minutes or until it soften; mix gently with a spoon, then add the rest of the ingredients. Bring together to form a dough.
  2. You can knead by machine or by hand; for the latter, it will be about 10 minutes of pushing, folding, pulling, etc. until it is no longer sticky and the ball of dough is beautifully smooth and elastic (bounces back if you poke it).
  3. Place the kneaded dough in an oiled bowl, drizzle a bit of oil over the top, cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. For the filling: Gently heat the olive oil in a wide skillet and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Let sweat gently until they begin to soften but not color, then add the tomatoes, breaking them up with your spoon when they're in the pan. Add a splash of water and cook over low-medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tomato sauce thickens. Remove from the heat.
  5. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 400° F. Divide into two equal parts. Take one half and roll it out or stretch it with your hands until it's about 1/4-inch thick. Place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and continue stretching gently, forming the dough into a rough rectangle shape until it's as thin as you can get it. Spread the onion and tomato mixture evenly over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Lay the anchovy fillets and pitted olives over top, distributing evenly.
  6. Roll out or stretch the rest of the dough to roughly the same size and shape (don't worry too much about holes—they don't call this “rustic” pizza for nothing) and lay it over the top, pulling the edges to meet up. Seal the edges by gently pressing down. Poke holes all over the top of the dough with a fork and bake in the oven for 45 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
  7. Remove and let cool slightly before cutting into squares. This is also very good served cold the next day, even if the bread is not as crisp.

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