The Italian Aperitivo – Focaccia

Bring a little bit of summer into your food. These long summer evenings are perfect for having friends around to share a bottle of wine or sip on ice cold cocktails. The Italians pass their evenings like this all year round, but they wouldn’t dream of serving drinks without providing snacks - and a bowl of crisps just simply won’t do.
To an Italian a post-work or pre-dinner drink is an aperitivo and the thought of enjoying an aperitivo without an accompanying savoury bite is unthinkable. So whilst enjoying the warmth and company of loved ones why not whip up some easy-peasy scrumptious focaccia to lay out on your garden table with a bowl of olives and a pitcher of Bellini to create the perfect evening full of Italian elegance.

500g strong white bread flour
Olive oil
450 ml cold water
2 sachets of dried yeast
Salt and whatever
Toppings you fancy

Chilli oil
Melted cheese and garlic
Roasted red onion and mixed herbs
Mozzarella and fresh green pesto
Sun-dried tomato

1. Mix the flour, a couple of pinches of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the yeast in a large bowl.
2. Slowly add 450ml of cold water, using your hands to form a round, smooth dough.
3. Knead for 5-10 minutes, stretching and folding the dough.
4. Cover and put in a warm, dry place to rise to double its size.
5. Lightly oil a baking tray and flatten the dough onto it, pushing it into each of the corners before placing the tray back in the warm, dry place for a further hour to proof.
6. Preheat the oven to 200°F, sprinkle sea salt and a dash more olive oil on top of the dough and bake for 18 minutes.
7. Once golden remove from the oven, top with a dash more olive oil and whichever toppings you fancy, cut into 5cm² pieces and serve immediately while warm.

And there you have it – an incredibly easy and ever-so elegant Italian appetiser that will impress all your friends.

This recipe was submitted by Chloe Hay. Originally published March 2014. Updated June 2016.

The Italian Aperitivo – Focaccia

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