Focaccia is a flatbread that is made using simple ingredients and can be paired with several sides.
Invented in Italy, focaccia is well-known around the world because of its simplicity and flavor. Its crispy exterior and fluffy interior help it pair with just about any type of side and is widely sought-after for its versatility.
What sides go best with focaccia? Focaccia bread goes great with a lot of sides. Things like mashed potatoes, sautéed vegetables, fried eggs, omelet, creamed spinach, and gravy are just some of the foods that this bread complements extremely well!
Read below to learn more about this amazing flatbread, how it is made, its uses, and some great sides to serve it with!
The Origins Of Focaccia
Focaccia was invented in Italy and can be thought of as a simple pizza bread.
Like other types of bread, focaccia is made using simple ingredients but doesn’t require a pre-ferment or a starter. Just add all the wet and dry ingredients together, mix, rise and you’re done.
What about kneading? Well, this type of dough doesn’t require a lot of kneading, in fact, you can just use the pinch-knead technique to easily mix all the ingredients.
Traditional focaccia has a spongey interior and can be quite airy. Its exterior and base are known to be golden brown and crispy. The best way to make this bread is to top it with flaky sea salt, some herbs, and olive oil.
Olive oil plays a huge role in focaccia. So much so that you can also have it just with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
It is also one of the things that makes it super crispy on the outside! Also, unlike other types of bread, focaccia is baked in a rectangular pan and can be topped with anything.
If you are looking for a healthy bread that is light on the stomach, presentable and versatile then look no further than focaccia!
How To Make Focaccia
Focaccia is so easy to make that we can’t just skip on this foolproof recipe. This bread can be made without going out for a grocery run!
Remember, focaccia does not require a starter or a pre-ferment and you can easily make it with just yeast, water, salt, flour, and oil. That’s it.
This allows the bread to have a pizza-dough-like consistency.
Again, since focaccia is a wet dough, it doesn’t need to be kneaded that much so you just need to let it rise for about 3-4 hours at minimum to get that fluffy interior and delicious exterior.
Here is how to make focaccia at home:
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- Olive oil (drizzle)
- Sift the flour in the bowl and add the salt and yeast. Mix well and then add water.
- With a spoon, gently mix everything until a wet, sticky dough forms. You can pinch and mix the dough by hand. If it is too sticky then just add some oil to your fingers and continue mixing the dough until it is fully incorporated.
- Drizzle olive oil over the dough and cover it with a cloth and store it in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, take a rectangular pan that can fit the dough and grease the bottom with olive oil.
- Scoop out the dough and place it in the pan. You can also take the dough out by hand. Just remember to rub olive oil into your hand before handling the dough.
- Let the dough rest in the pan for 3-4 hours. It should double in size by now.
- Drizzle olive oil on top of the inflated dough, and using your fingers create dimples by piercing the dough at random spots. You can create as many dimples as you like!
- Top the bread with flaky sea salt, fresh rosemary, and bake at 425°F for 20 minutes!
The bread should come out golden-brown and crispy. The dimples created in step 6 will help add texture to the bread and will also create air pockets inside which will further help it with its spongey texture.
Toppings For Focaccia
The sheer versatility when it comes to the toppings of focaccia makes it a great bread to have on any occasion. Keep in mind that this is more like pizza dough than regular bread so you can top it with anything you like!
For example, some people like to keep things traditional with only a simple topping of herbs and flaky salt. Others might want to get a bit more adventurous and add garlic cloves, spices, and even pepperoni!
The sky is the limit for focaccia and this is what helps it complement various side dishes too.
For starters, we highly recommend using any high-grade extra virgin olive oil with the first slice of this bread. It will add a bit of moistness and a whole lot of flavor to the bread!
The 7 Best Sides for Focaccia
If you are looking for a few great side recommendations then you have come to the right place. Focaccia bread is excellent because it is considered a very neutral-tasting bread that can easily mix well with just about any type of side.
People have this bread with soups, in salads, with gravy, with meat, and even with wine!
Here are 7 best sides for focaccia:
1. Mashed Potatoes
If you have just made fresh focaccia then we can’t recommend this side dish enough. Mashed potatoes go extremely well with the softness and crispiness of focaccia.
You can either spread it on a slice of the bread or dip it in a bowl full of delicious, creamy potatoes!
If you want to take this pairing to the next level then top the focaccia with garlic butter and fresh cilantro for an even better and more pronounced flavor.
Focaccia bread is excellent for soups and can be paired with just about any soup or broth recipe that you can think of!
The bread can be further toasted to give it a more crouton-like flavor. You can even grill or fry slices of focaccia to enhance its appearance and flavor. We recommend dipping the fried pieces of focaccia in soup to make a heartier meal!
3. Fried Eggs
This pairing is simple, essential, and delicious. Focaccia tastes excellent with fried eggs. The creaminess and rich flavor of the yolk will complement the sponge-like texture and the mild flavor of this bread.
You can even take this a step further by frying the bread alongside the eggs to give them an extra layer of flavor and color!
For the best experience, place a fried egg on a rectangular piece of focaccia and enjoy with a light garnish of flaky salt and pepper!
Having focaccia as a side for a nice steak dinner is both humbling and a delicious pairing.
The olive-oil infused bread will provide a nice, balanced flavor to the steak and you won’t have to worry about overeating other caloric-dense sides either!
Want more flavor? Sear the focaccia slices on the same pan that you used to cook the steak.
The bread will soak up all the flavor and residual juices from the steak and catch on a very appealing color too. You can also pair focaccia with mashed potatoes on the side with the steak!
5. Crab Gratin (Or Seafood)
Once you taste this combo, you might never want to go back to trying seafood without focaccia!
The mere thought of the light and tender flavors from the fish meat along with the fluffy and crispy texture of focaccia make us salivate!
Trust us, there is nothing more satisfying than an assortment of garlic-infused focaccia slices with fresh crab gratin or any other smoked or grilled seafood.
Add in some finely diced cucumbers and carrots to the gratin and you will have yourself a 5-star-level meal!
If you want to keep it fresh, light, and healthy then you can also serve focaccia with a side of your favorite salad.
Make sure that the salad has fresh cucumbers, thin slices of tomatoes (cherry tomatoes would pair well too!), and crunchy salad leaves.
You get multiple options with the focaccia slices too! We recommend cutting up a slice in small cubes and then toasting it in the oven with olive oil and fresh rosemary.
This combo is excellent in terms of flavor and nutrition. It will also add volume to the salad and will likely keep you satiated for longer too!
Hummus and focaccia are a match made in heaven. Seriously, ditch the pita bread and try fresh focaccia with any hummus recipe! There are so many ways you can get the most out of this pairing.
For example, spread hummus over freshly baked focaccia and eat it while it’s still warm for a creamy, rich, and utterly delicious flavor.
The bread will soak the olive oil and light spices from the hummus and will beautifully tie all the flavors together. It truly is one of the best afternoon or mid-day snacks!
Tips And Tricks For The Best Focaccia
- Focaccia can either be bought from the store or you can also make it at home. If you are buying the bread from the store then we recommend getting the freshest product available. A great way to do this is to inquire about the baking schedule of your local baker so that you get the freshest available serving.
- You can let your imagination run wild with this bread. A great way of coming up with excellent toppings is to think of this bread as pizza dough. This way you can experiment with different herbs and spices. Don’t be afraid to put in large cloves of garlic in the dimpling of the loave as it bakes in the oven too! Drizzle with olive oil or homemade sauce for an even better experience!
- Focaccia bread can be stored in the pantry for about 2 days. The best way to keep it fluffy and crispy is to wrap it in plastic and store the bread in a cool and dark environment. Always check the bread for discoloration and foul odors before consumption. The bread can also be stored in the fridge in an air-tight container. Focaccia should last about 3-4 days in the fridge. To heat it, simply microwave or heat the bread at low heat until it is warm.
- Focaccia can also be used to make sandwiches. A great way to make manageable slices of bread is to spread the dough until it has an elongated shape. This will keep the bread from becoming too thick. While focaccia can’t be as thin as typical bread slices, this trick will allow you to use the slices in different and delicious ways!
Focaccia bread is a classic Italian bread that is known to go with just about anything! Whether it is sauteed vegetables, cheese, mashed potatoes, or more.
If you truly love bread then we cannot recommend this easy and versatile bread enough.
Now that you know what focaccia is and how it pairs with several sides, here are some related questions regarding the bread and its uses!
Can you freeze focaccia?
Yes, focaccia can be stored in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.
The best way to store it would be to either tightly wrap it in food-safe plastic or an air-tight container. Store the bread at 0°F for the best results and try to consume it within 1 month for the best texture and flavor.
To thaw the bread, simply place it in the microwave or heat the bread in the oven.
A great way to effectively heat the bread while maintaining its fluffy and crispy texture would be to first microwave it for 30 seconds to 1 minute at the highest setting.
Then, continue to heat the bread in the oven at 350°F for about 5-10 minutes.
Is focaccia gluten-free?
Traditional focaccia is unfortunately not gluten-free as it is made using flour but is considered to be vegan.
The good news is that you can find several recipes for gluten-free focaccia. Both varieties should have very little textural and flavor differences as long as you use high-quality ingredients.
Alternatively, you can find gluten-free focaccia at your local supermarket or bakery as well.
There might even be different traditional varieties of focaccia available too! Always check the labeling of the bread before purchasing to be sure of its labels and ingredients.
Is focaccia healthier than typical bread?
Focaccia can be a healthier alternative to typical white bread and even some bran bread varieties.
Focaccia is a simple flatbread that usually does not contain commercial preservatives or other chemicals. More importantly, it does not have added sugars!
The sugar content in typical bread is what causes blood sugar spikes that can lead to the urge to eat, and oftentimes, overeat.
This is why focaccia is a healthier and more customizable alternative to other types of bread that can help you stay fuller for longer.