herbed focaccia & pimento romesco

herbed focaccia with caramelized onions & romesco | two red bowls
herbed focaccia with caramelized onions & romesco | two red bowls

Hi friends! How was your weekend? We spent a fun one down in North Carolina at the wedding of one of Bowl #2’s college friends. This might just be me and the fact that I haven’t gone to that many yet, but I feel like I love weddings more and more with every one I go to, even when I’m a plus-one and I’ve never met the bride and groom. (But also there’s a 20% chance you’ll find me crying in my office to YouTube highlight reels of strangers’ weddings on any given afternoon. Just so you know what kind of constitution you’re dealing with.)

This one was beautiful — there was an abundance of brilliant sunshine, B2 got to see all his closest friends from undergrad, I got really weepy during the exchange of vows despite having met the groom for the very first time about 12 minutes before the ceremony. I learned what a New Orleans second line is (and that it is more challenging than I would have thought to wave a cloth napkin to a beat?!) Also, there were these really excellent mini chicken quesadilla cone-things at the cocktail hour, half of which were consumed by me, and the most delicious vanilla cake with raspberry frosting. Do not invite me to your wedding, I will eat all your food.

So that was our weekend! We spent the flight back talking about all the things we wanted at our own wedding, and we got back on Sunday with enough time to bake a batch of cookies and enjoy a little bit of gorgeous New York spring, not quite as warm as sunny Carolina but still amazing.  My only regret: that we didn’t make it to a Cookout or Waffle House before we left. Next time.

herbed focaccia with caramelized onions & romesco | two red bowls

With the exception of this weekend and a few days here and there, spring has been coy in New York. The finicky weather has me waffling between staying close to comforting things that bake in a toasty oven and moving on to crisp, fresh spring greens. This pillowy focaccia, warm from the oven but studded with spring herbs, was my way of compromising.  A good focaccia has been on my to-do list for awhile now.  I think there’s something irresistible about a salty, flavorful, crackly-topped focaccia with pockets of grassy olive oil and generous flecks of rosemary, dipped in a good sauce or all on its own. Of the recipes I tried, this one by Sam at Love Comma Cake was my favorite, scaled it down just slightly for a 9×13 pan and with an overnight rise thrown in. It was everything I wanted from focaccia — crisp and golden on top, light and soft inside but still satisfyingly chewy, with plenty of little divots for olive oil and herby goodness.

The focaccia was more than good enough to devour plain, but I paired it with what might be my new favorite sauce: Molly’s romesco!  I’d never had romesco before this but oh my gosh, I’m in love.  Tart from a splash of vinegar, subtly sweet and smoky from roasted peppers, and hearty from toasted nuts, it has all the piquancy and depth of flavor I didn’t know I was missing in a tomato-based sauce.  I want it on everything.  Served with jammy caramelized onions on top, this made for the perfect lunch for us to bridge the gap between a blustery late winter and a gentle early spring.  Happy Wednesday!

herbed focaccia & pimento romesco | two red bowls
herbed focaccia & pimento romesco | two red bowls
herbed focaccia & pimento romesco | two red bowls
herbed focaccia & pimento romesco | two red bowls
herbed focaccia & pimento romesco | two red bowls
herbed focaccia & pimento romesco | two red bowls

Herbed focaccia & pimento romesco.

The focaccia is a slightly scaled-down version of this recipe by Love Comma Cake; the romesco is barely adapted from My Name is Yeh. I added roasted pimentos as a nod to my beloved Southern staple and used almonds, just because I like them, but Molly's walnut and roasted bell pepper version sounds fantastic as is.

Ingredients

  • for the focaccia:
  • 3 cups (375 g) flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped herbs, divided (I used rosemary, thyme, and oregano)
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (105° to 110°, or warm to the touch but not hot)
  • 2 tbsp good olive oil, like Lucini (plus 2-3 tbsp more for greasing and drizzling)
  • coarse sea salt for topping
  • for the romesco sauce:
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 12-oz jar roasted pimentos (I used Goya brand)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • to serve:
  • caramelized onions (instructions here or in this article by The Kitchn)

Instructions

  1. One day ahead: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, 2 tablespoons chopped herbs, and yeast. In a small bowl, whisk together warm water and oil. Add the water mixture to the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula (these are my favorite) until all the flour is moistened -- the dough should be quite wet and tacky, something like the dough here but should not be soupy.
  2. Next, knead or work with the dough for about 8-10 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic and begins to hold its shape. You can either knead it by turning it out onto a work surface and scraping it up with a bench scraper and folding it over repeatedly, like Sam does, or use a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one -- or, if you’d like to go rogue like me, just use a spatula and “knead” the dough right in the bowl by just stirring and pressing and generally messing around with it until it comes together. It’s all very elegant. (But really, don’t worry too much about this -- if you do an overnight rise, the long rise time will aid in any gluten development that doesn’t happen with kneading.)
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl or 4-quart container with olive oil. Scrape the focaccia dough into the bowl and gently turn to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to rise overnight, 8-12 hours.
  4. For the romesco: At this point, you can also make your romesco (and your caramelized onions, instructions here and here). For the romesco sauce, simply combine all the romesco ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste, and that's it! Romesco will keep up to 3 days.
  5. Day of: When you're ready to bake, oil a 9x13-inch rimmed baking sheet or baking dish. Transfer the dough from the bowl to the baking sheet. Using your hands, flatten the dough and fold it in on itself once or twice, then gently press and stretch it into a large rectangle. Don’t worry too much about getting it to cover the pan initially. Place the dough in a warm place and let it rise for 10-20 minutes, or until it begins to feel soft again. At this point, you can gently stretch it to cover the entire dish.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450° F. While it’s preheating, let the dough rise for another 20-30 minutes, or until it comes to room temperature.
  7. Using the pads of your fingers, press on the dough all across its surface, patting it down to about 1/2 or 3/4-inch thickness and creating dimples evenly across the entire surface. Marian compares it to “playing chords on a piano.” Whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons herbs and 2 tablespoons olive oil, then drizzle evenly across the dough.
  8. Bake until golden brown, puffed, and set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then remove from the pan, slice, and serve. Enjoy warm, with romesco sauce for dipping and caramelized onions to top.
http://tworedbowls.com/2015/04/15/herbed-focaccia-pimento-romesco/

45 comments

  1. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Focaccia is probably my favourite type of bread ever (and goodness knows, there’s a lot of competition to win that title). Dipped in some of that pimento-y goodness? Perfection. Happy Spring Cynthia! I’m so glad that you’re finally starting to get some sun + warmer temps in NYC. xo

  2. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Romesco is my most favouritest sauce in the WHOLE. WIDE. WORLD. We eat it with grilled leeks a la Gwyneth Paltrow but this looks just as delicious – anything bread gets my vote. Gorgeous photos as always too 🙂 x

    • tworedbowls says:

      April 16, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      Oh my gosh, it sounds HEAVENLY over grilled leeks! I need to try that next (instead of carby-carbs all time, lol!) Thank you so much for stopping by, Kate!

  3. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Oh my god. Focaccia holds a really special place in my heart. I remember distinctly how focaccia saved my life (ok, I’m being dramatic), but Alex and I were traveling from Rome to Paris via a long long train ride. We were rushing to the station and didn’t exactly have time to stop at a restaurant and eat a sit-down meal. So we stopped by a beautiful bakery and ordered two types of focaccia to go. The first bite into the fragrant, mushroom focaccia gave me back my sanity, I swear… So happy you had a great weekend. Aren’t weddings fun? 🙂 I’ve been to so many as a wedding photographer but I still find them magical and full of love and fun. Especially when people start dancing like crazy :).

    • tworedbowls says:

      April 16, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Ha, I love that story! I believe focaccia has life-saving powers for sure. 🙂 And I can only imagine how fun and rewarding being a wedding photographer is!! It does sound magical for sure!

  4. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I thought I was the only one crying at work to strangers’ wedding videos on YouTube!! I could eat this focaccia forever and would not hesitate to grab another slice after forever plus a day. 🙂

    ps. I literally LOL-ed to “Do not invite me to your wedding, I will eat all your food.”

  5. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Oh my goodness is this recipe accidentally vegan meaning I can make it?! I think my eyes are telling me so and I’m so happy cause I’m drooling, and its only breakfast time here. And I’ve never heard of romesco until now! That looks/sounds like the perfect sauce for so many bready, olive oily, herbed things such as this perfect focaccia. I also love hearing about your wedding planning, makes me smile so huge, so so so excited for you two and cannot wait to see and read about all of its magical awesomeness <3 happy Wednesday Cynthia!! xo

  6. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Love that you and HonestlyYUM both did focaccias today and they were back to back on my feed. That was one of the first bread recipes I ever tried, courtesy of a Jamie Oliver book, and those little divots where the olive oil pools are so incredible important! And rosemary + focaccia = bffs 4eva

  7. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

    Wowwww that focaccia! And, I definitely salute you as you go into wedding prep mode. I’m a bridesmaid right now for a dear friend who is throwing a fairly huge wedding, and it’s both a joy and sometimes a cautionary tale regarding planning! Know you have an army of readers who have great recommendations!

    http://thatumamilife.wordpress.com – a clean eating bento blog

  8. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 10:47 am

    OMG you are so not alone at being weepy at weddings! I have been to like a hundred in the last two years and you can find me sobbing at every single one. Doesn’t matter whose wedding it is–the celebration of love just gets me. Also, I’m so, so happy you got to experience a second line! Such a fun little tradition that’s so very “New Orleans!”

    okay, onto the food: I’m obsessed with the addition of romesco and can only imagine how perfectly it pairs with focaccia. All of that herby, crunchy goodness sopped up with the bright red sauce and olive oil…uhhh can I have that for breakfast? Or would that be weird?

  9. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 11:03 am

    What a lovely focaccia but that romanesco is really the one that makes this stand out! Weddings always feel so special. I attended two weddings + two bachelorette parties last summer but this summer will be wedding-less. Definitely going to miss all that love, fun, and good food (+booze).

  10. themoonblushbaker says:

    April 15, 2015 at 11:42 am

    I haven’t been to many weddings in my time however I understand the why you might tear up. It is place of heighten emotions but everything (emotion wise) is so genuine. I haven been through two of sister’s weddings as bridesmaids, so I think i seen my fair share of break downs. All I can say is plan as much as you can, Bring an extra pari of shoes and at the end of day it doesn’t really matter if small things stuff up. You will not notice it on the day anyway 🙂

    WOW Yummo! All I can say. The peppery spread and chewy texture of the bread is making me so hungry right now

  11. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 11:47 am

    I haven’t been to a Waffle House in years! That used to be one of my favorite road trip stops. I’m glad the wedding was lovely and I’m glad to see this gorgeous foccacia in my feed. Just beautiful.

  12. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I love so many things about this. You were in Carolina!!! And Cookout.. I mean those hushuppies!! And yes to crying at weddings. I’ve been on this bread baking kick so I have to try this.

  13. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    That weekend sounds amaze. I’m totally with you on the weepies (in fact, there may have been a couple times I’ve teared up after a commercial or two). Totally latched on to and spent a little too much time on youtube watching it. I’m kind of mesmerized.

    Same can be said about this focaccia. WOW. Nailed it. And that romesco sauce. But really, those caramelized onions are totally speaking to me. This is just amaze. All of it.

    As are you. You should totally be invited to all weddings forevermore for many reasons but especially because someone has to eat all the foods. 😉 xx

  14. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    If you were weeping at a stranger’s wedding, I need to send you a huge hug & a huge handkerchief RIGHT NOW for your very own wedding. You have a gentle heart, lady. 🙂

    As you continue to master your bread making skill, I continue to drool and hope that one day I can make it, too. The photos are very tempting. I love them <3 <3 <3

  15. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    I’m just like you, Cynthia. I LOVE weddings. What’s not to like? Dress up. Eat well. Dance. Lots of love floating around. Have so much fun planning yours. And enjoy it!! It’s goes by so fast. : )

    Thanks for the foccacia love! Don’t you just want to snuggle up to that dough? I can’t wait to try Molly’s romesco. What a great combo.

  16. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Oh, cool, Cynthia. I’ve just eaten Romesco sauce in Spain and looking forward to pound this delicious sauce at home (though had to restrain myself from getting another pestle and mortar and lugging it onto the plane), great that you’ve just provided a recipe for this one!
    Can’t wait to try, Nicole

  17. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Awww glad you had such a great time, girlie!!! And I totally high five you in the “I will eat all your wedding food” comment. I know we should probably be a bit more self restrained, elegant, blaah blah but I just can’t because I love wedding food! 😀 haha. I also love focaccia bread for sandwiches and I don’t think I’ve ever tried romesco before but it sounds like my type of sauce–tangy and spicy.

  18. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    These photos, Cynthia!! They’re so beautiful. Your styling skills are incredible; such a gift! And yum… focaccia! You can never go wrong with carbs. 😀 <3

  19. says:

    April 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I just want a pillow of the foccacia so I can stay in bed all day and eat it! It looks so lovely, and I really love the romesco and caramelized onions you added with it – that’s such a fantastic idea!!
    My friends are starting to get married starting this summer, which is crazy! I’m with you on weddings, I love them, and the delicious food makes it all the better 😉

  20. stephanie says:

    April 15, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    heehee i cry all the time at ppl in love 🙂 i don’t even need to know them…and um, yes to eating all the things at weddings….

    this focaccia is awesome! i really need to up my bread game – you inspire me!

  21. says:

    April 16, 2015 at 2:23 am

    Oh my, I am the same exact way about weddings. They make my heart all weepy and full of light and I’m so glad I’m not the only one who could spend hours watching wedding highlights. Although, I’d much rather be AT the wedding because, um, cake??

    But this focaccia! This is some of the softest looking focaccia I have ever seen. And that romesco sauce truly does sound amazing. looks outstanding. I’ve never had romesco, but am intrigued at its’ clever use of almonds. Will definitely have to try making both of these!

    Also, your photos are killer. As always. Thanks Cynthia! xo

  22. says:

    April 16, 2015 at 4:05 am

    Amen! I don’t even know what I’d do if I saw an engagement happen IN REAL LIFE. This springy focaccia and that romesco sauce are everything I want right now. I bet if you offered to bring a loaf (is this what you call it?) of focaccia in exchange for eating all of the food, you’d be the #1 guest.

  23. says:

    April 16, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Ahhhhh this looks delicious! I haven’t made focaccia since I attempted it once like seven years ago, and ended up with the equivalent of salty styrofoam. (I was dating the Italian guy at that time too. He tasted it and looked at me like I’d disgraced his heritage.) There’s this amazing bakeshop in the next town over, and I bought a slice of focaccia from them a while ago that was so salty and topped with onions, smoked salmon, and dill (and the smoked salmon had crisped up from being baked). There might have been bits of feta or goat cheese in there too I think; I can’t remember because I stuffed it in my face in like 5 seconds flat. It was INSANE.

    This spring-at-last weather we’ve been having is making me so happy, but the waffling back and forth between “I don’t even need a sweater!” and “ugh I need to go back into my house and put on my winter coat” temps is very confusing for my body/food cravings too. Of course everyone here is acting like it’s summer, regardless. It’s currently 48° out and I just saw a group of dudes walk by, and one of them didn’t have a shirt on. #collegekids

  24. says:

    April 16, 2015 at 11:37 am

    This focaccia looks so airy and wonderful, girl, you are a bread making beast (re: those scallion biscuits, the hokkaido milk bread), I find bread-y things to be the most difficult to make and you always nail them! teach me your secrets. also pimento romesco? I just want to smear that all over my face it sounds so good, love everything pimento. Also gorgeous photos as always 🙂

  25. says:

    April 16, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    It never fails, I always cry at weddings (including my own). So good luck with that during your wedding. 🙂
    I love romesco sauce too. Funny because with all the cooking that I do, I have never had it up until very recently myself.
    I can only imagine how delicious this focaccia bread must taste with homemade romesco sauce.
    So beautifully photographed, as usual.
    Cheers!

  26. says:

    April 16, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Cynthia! I love that this comment thread has turned into a giant crying confessional—exactly what every blog post should aspire to be. I, too, am a total wedding weeper. So much so that if I don’t cry at a wedding, I become deeply unsettled and am certain there may be something wrong with the marriage (shhh don’t tell anyone I said that!).

    AND THIS FOCACCIA. I think I said this on Insta, but I am just obsessed with focaccia, and actually had a period in my teenage years where I was constantly baking it, using whatever herbs I could forage from our garden. I miss that! Not to mention that my favorite sandwich in the whole wide world is on two herby slabs of focaccia bread. I may need to remedy the serious dearth of focaccia in my life of late with this geniusness. Thanks for being such an inspiration, Cynthia!

  27. says:

    April 20, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    I grew up making focaccia for my Grandmother’s restaurant, but this looks like a new way to make it. I can’t wait to try this for my husband! That man would live off of bread if I let him 🙂

  28. says:

    April 20, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Hmmm I’ve never made focaccia before but it’s my favourite with this type of sauce. Thanks for the inspiration- I think I’ll have to give it a try

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