If hunger is the problem, focaccia bread sandwiches are absolutely the solution.
Focaccia bread is a unique vessel for just about any type of sandwich. It's hearty yet airy, with a tender texture that absorbs the flavors of foods used as fillings in a delicious way, yet it has enough "chew" to maintain its shape for easy eating out of hand. Its flat shape allows for even stacking of fillings, and its olive oil and herb-rich flavor plays well with a variety of others.
Here, we'll discuss the art of this tasty treat, including styles, tips and considerations, and some tasty focaccia sandwich ideas.
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What is focaccia bread?
Italian in heritage, this yeast bread is baked fairly flat, often in a sheet or round pan, and texture-wise, it resembles a puffy pizza crust such as Sicilian. Owing to the yeast, it is more dimensional and spongy than flatbread. It is often baked with a glistening olive oil coating, and sprinkled with salt and herbs and spices. Focaccia can be served as a side for soup or salad, or it can be employed as the carb of choice for sandwiches.
There's not just one way to make a focaccia bread sandwich. Focaccia can be further topped with vegetables or meats before baking, for a sort of open-face baked sandwich/pizza, or it can be topped after baking, or sliced in half and used as sandwich bread. We'll discuss a few different modes of sandwich-making here.
Open-faced focaccia sandwich ideas
The basic idea
Use pizza as your inspiration for open-faced focaccia sandwiches. The method is very similar to making pizza: you put your chosen toppings on the bread, either before baking (as pictured above), or after baking.
Tips and considerations
- Curate your selection of toppings. Toppings that are too clunky can easily fall off, making it necessary to use a fork and knife; while this isn't a deal-breaker, it does lose the charm of utensil-free sandwich-eating.
- Layer in a thoughtful way. Place a layer of mayonnaise or pesto on the bottom of the sandwich, closest to the bread. Layer vegetables and meats next, and place cheese on top, so that it can melt and hold everything together.
- You can make a filled focaccia. If you're feeding a crowd, you can a thin layer of sandwich fillings inside of the bread by dividing the dough in half, placing half in the pan, and then layering the rest on top, as in the photo above.
Sliced focaccia sandwich ideas
The basic idea
You slice a portion of focaccia bread lengthwise (like a bagel) and use it as sandwich bread.
Tips and considerations
- To make a successful sandwich with sliced focaccia, first and foremost, you have to take care of the bread. Slice it evenly with a sharp, serrated knife. You can make the bottom part slightly thicker, as the spongy texture will absorb fillings and can get soggy if too thin.
- Because the bread can become crispy and crumbly when toasted, it is my suggestion that you not toast the bread before assembling your sandwich. Wait until after the fillings are added and then toast the entire unit, as in the tutorial below.
- Focaccia sandwiches can become unwieldy; secure with a toothpick before serving.
- Don't pile the sandwich too high, because it can make the sandwiches difficult to eat.
- If you're making sandwiches for a crowd, you can slice an entire half sheet of focaccia at once, and make one massive sandwich which you then slice and serve with ease. You can also bake a large sandwich like this per the instructions in the tutorial below, but the bake time may be longer.
How to make a a focaccia sandwich
Toasting your sandwich in the oven, wrapped in foil, will make all of the fillings toasty and flavorful without making the bread too crunchy to handle.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Slice the focaccia in half, if slicing. On the inside of each slice, spread any condiments such as mayonnaise, pesto, butter, etc.
Layer other toppings on one of the halves, and then sandwich the top piece of bread atop the fillings.
Place the entire sandwich on top of a sheet of aluminum foil, and fold the foil around the sandwich. For an open-faced sandwich, simply tent the foil around the sides; don't cover the toppings entirely or they could stick to the foil.
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or as long as it takes for your fillings to get toasty and melted.
Remove from the oven and gently remove the foil; enjoy while still warm.
Now that you've got a good handle on what makes a successful focaccia sandwich, here are some recipe ideas. Any of these focaccia sandwich ideas will work for either an open-faced or sliced option.
Open-faced mushroom and Swiss
Place sautéed mushrooms on top of a thick slice of focaccia. Top with Swiss or any melting cheese of your choice. Bake per the instructions above.
Baked turkey, mozzarella, pesto and tomato
Slice your focaccia in half horizontally. Spread each half with pesto, and then layer on turkey, mozzarella and thinly sliced tomato. Place the top back on, pesto side down. Either enjoy as-is, or bake per the instructions above.
Focaccia breakfast sandwich
Slice your focaccia in half horizontally. Lightly butter both halves, and then place scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon and any other fillings (avocado is awfully nice). Either enjoy as-is, or bake per the instructions above.
Eggplant, ham and tomato sandwich
Slice your focaccia in half horizontally. Spread both halves with mayonnaise and mustard, and add slices of cooked eggplant, Black Forest ham, mozzarella and thinly sliced tomato. This sandwich is pictured above. Either enjoy as-is, or bake per the instructions above.