Focaccia with Grana Padano, Ricotta, Broad Beans, Artichokes & Peas. Basil, Grana Padano & Pea Salsa
We invited Alex Mackay - cook, teacher, cookery writer - to share his everyday recipes for brunch, lunch and dinner with hero ingredient, Grana Padano.
Good focaccia gives you the combination of crunchy, soft and crumbly which makes the texture as much of a treat as the taste. The topping can be varied, just as long as there are peas to ignite the Grana Padano, echo the flavour in the salsa and dance alongside the sweetness of the basil. Try asparagus, spring onions or sprouting broccoli for some other options, or courgette later in the year. Just keep it green. The focaccia will keep, covered, for 1 or 2 days, then warm it through and it tastes as good as fresh. It also freezes, so if you have space, make 2. Grate all the Grana Padano for the different parts of the recipe at the same time, I do this by cutting it into small chunks and blending it in my food processor, which you can then use for the sauce. For a quicker version, you could make this with shop bought focaccia, ideal for a lunch time picnic.
Serves 4; Preparation time: 1 hour plus resting time; Cooking time: 30 minutes; Difficulty: Moderate
1. Make the dough, then while it rests and proves you can prepare the filling, sauce, and vegetables at your leisure.
2. Put the flour into a large bowl. Mix in the easy bake yeast, salt, and sugar. Make a little well in the centre. Pour in the water and the olive oil. Mix with one hand until everything is well combined.
3. Transfer the dough to your work surface, making sure you get every last bit of mixture out of your bowl. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it is smooth.
4. Brush the inside of your bowl with olive oil, put the dough back into it. Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
5. Generously oil your Swiss roll tin, line it with greaseproof paper, then oil it again. Once the dough has rested, gently transfer it to the lined tin. With the shiny top side of the dough facing up, press and pull the dough all the way to the edges. Brush very generously with the 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Leave to prove in a warm place for 40 minutes to an hour until the dough has risen to about double the height, you can measure it with a ruler at the start to help.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, sprinkle the fennel seeds, salt flakes and Grana Padano evenly over the top. Press with the tips of your fingers to make the pretty little holes in the picture. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden brown. Take the focaccia out of the oven. Leave to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer from the tin to a cooling rack.
7. Put the Grana Padano and ricotta into a medium sized bowl. Mix together then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The Vegetables and Sauce
8. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Prepare a large bowl of cold water.
9. Slice the thickest part of the basil stalks as finely as you can. Weigh 75g of the peas. Add these peas, the basil stalks, and the sliced garlic to the boiling water. Boil for 1 minute. Add the basil leaves. Boil for 1 minute. Use a sieve to transfer all of it to the cold water. Chill for a minute or 2, then strain it all and transfer to the small bowl of your food processor. Boil the remaining peas and the broad beans for 2-3 minutes or until they are cooked through. Transfer them to cold water, chill completely then strain through a sieve and set aside in a shallow dish with the artichokes.
10. Add the Grana Padano and extra virgin olive oil to the other salsa ingredients in your food processor. Blend to a chunky puree, add more olive oil if you need to. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
11. Cut the focaccia in half through the centre as if you were making a giant sandwich. (It may be easier for you to do this in 2 sections) Spread the Grana Padano and ricotta mixture over the cut face. Top with about half of the artichokes, peas, broad beans, and salsa.
12. Sprinkle over the Grana Padano shavings then either serve as is, or warm through in the oven at 220°C for 5 minutes. You could also put the lid on and take it somewhere for a picnic.
13. Serve the remaining vegetables tossed with some of the sauce on the side.
Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 7, 220°C at step 6. Rack Position Top Shelf
Using a fan-assisted oven? Click here
You will need a 30cm x 20cm Swiss roll tin