Roasted Vegetable Focaccia: THIS is what you do with 3 pounds of zucchini

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Zucchini.

The fun just never ends, does it?

Sure, you can shred it to make cake, or frittata, or moist, raisin-packed muffins.

You can turn it into a restaurant-style (think bloomin’ onion) appetizer.

Zucchini-Cheese Pancakes?

I’m so there.

Still, each of these recipes probably uses just one zucchini. Or maybe two small ones.

When what you really need, at this time of year, is something that actually makes a dent in the zuke supply.

The horn of plenty has suddenly become the horn of too much – what’s a gardener/baker to do?

Turn on the oven, chunk your zukes, toss in olive oil, and roast ‘em.

After all, despite its solid appearance and firm feel, zucchini is mainly water. Roasted long enough, a large bowl of zucchini will shrink into something much more manageable: golden brown, melting-soft disks of flavorful vegetable.

Perfect enjoyed on their own, added to a melange of fellow roasted vegetables, or used as the topping for a late-summer focaccia.

Now, I’m not talking those big ol’ baseball bat zukes; you let ‘em get that big, it’s your challenge what to do with ‘em.

No, I’m talking normal-size zucchini, in the 8″ to 10″ range. You know, the ones not hiding under their ample foliage and growing like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

Zucchini like this.

Which, combined with roasted cherry tomatoes and scallions, are about to become the topping for light-as-air focaccia.

Let’s start with the vegetables, since you can roast them ahead of time, then just store in the fridge until you decide what to do with them.

I’m using 3 pounds of zucchini here – six medium (8″ to 10″) zukes.

Trim the ends, cut into 3/4″ slices, and toss with olive oil and Pizza Seasoning, or the dried herbs of your choice.

How much olive oil, you ask?

A couple of good glugs from the bottle. Or more. or less.

I like olive oil, so I tend to go heavy. If you’re trying to keep the calorie count down here, you can simply spritz the zukes with olive oil spray. Your goal is enough oil that they’ll brown nicely.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Spread the zucchini, in a single layer, on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Next, rustle up a pound or so of cherry tomatoes. Cut each in half; if they’re small, prick them instead. The point is to create somewhere for their juices to easily exit.

Toss the tomatoes with olive oil and Pizza Seasoning or dried herbs. Place them, cut-side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Trim the root ends and any limp leaves from two bunches of scallions. Cut them into 2″ to 3″ pieces, toss in oil, sprinkle with herbs, and place on the baking sheet along with the tomatoes.

Place the vegetables in a preheated 400°F oven. Bake the zucchini, turning it over once, until it’s golden brown; this will take about 60 minutes. Bake the scallions and tomatoes until they’re starting to brown and soften, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the oven, use a spatula to gently loosen them from the pan, and set them aside to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Next up: focaccia dough.

We’ll begin with an overnight starter. If you make this in the late afternoon, it’ll be ready to go by the next morning.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1/2 cup cool water
1/16 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Stir everything together until the flour is incorporated. The starter will be paste-like; it won’t form a ball.

Cover and let rest at room temperature for about 14 hours; the starter will be bubbly (photo, upper right).

Combine the risen starter with the following:

2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water*
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons Baker’s Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons olive oil

*Use 1 tablespoon less water in summer (or in a humid environment), 1 tablespoon more in winter (or in a dry climate).

Mix and knead – by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle – to make a soft, smooth dough. If you’re kneading in a stand mixer, it should take about 7 minutes at second speed.

Scrape the dough into a ball, and lift it out of the bowl. Grease the bowl, and place the dough back into the bowl. If you need the bowl for something else, put the dough in a lightly greased container of some kind.

Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 1 hour. Gently deflate the dough, and allow it to rise for another hour; it should have doubled in bulk from its original volume.

Lightly grease an 18″ x 13″ rimmed baking sheet (half-sheet pan) with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Drizzle olive oil atop the spray; the spray keeps the bread from sticking, while the olive oil gives the  bottom crust great crunch and flavor.

Gently deflate the dough. Pull and shape it into a rough rectangle, and pat it into the pan.

As soon as it begins to fight you and shrink back, stop patting. Wait 15 minutes; pat the dough farther towards the edges of the pan. Repeat once more, if necessary, until the dough is close to covering the bottom of the pan.

Place the roasted zucchini atop the dough. Cover the pan, and allow the dough to rise until it’s very puffy, almost billowy. This will take about 2 to 3 hours.

Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the pan on a lower rack in your oven, and bake the focaccia for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, top with the scallions and tomatoes, return to the oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes…

…until the crust around the edges (and showing between the vegetables) is golden brown.

Remove the focaccia from the oven, and top with shaved Parmesan cheese, if desired.

“Shaved” Parmesan? Take a block of Parmesan (or Romano, or Asiago… any hard cheese, really), and use a vegetable peeler to cut paper-thin slices.

Return the focaccia to the oven for a minute or so to soften the cheese, if desired.

Serve warm, or at room temperature.

See the air holes in the crust? It’s chewy, yet light; the perfect complement to its substantial topping.

And that, my friends, is what you do with 3 pounds of zucchini.

OK, I know, you’ve STILL got tons to deal with; that’s what the other 2 dozen zucchini recipes on our site are for!

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Roasted Vegetable Focaccia.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Teresa

    Can the focaccia dough be halved and frozen?

    Yes, Teresa. Divide it in half after its initial rise in the bowl. Wrap airtight, and freeze for no longer than a month, preferably in a freezer that’s not self-defrosting, and whose temperature is 0°F or just above. Enjoy – PJH

    Reply
  2. waikikirie

    Looks great PJ but have a question. Why “preferably in a freezer that’s not self-deforsting”?

    A freezer that is self defrosting is a great tool for keeping any ice buildup at a minimum, but the fluctuation of temperature may not be kind to either baked or unbaked food products. Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  3. Helen in CA

    A variation that would be yummy…..would be to roll out the dough.

    Place the veggie on top of 1/2, topping w/ the cheese.

    Slash the non-vegie half several times & then fold over. Pinch the edges.

    In other words, the roasted vegies & cheese become filling, which can be seen thru the slashes.

    Bake according to recipe.

    Great Variation! Thanks for sharing your creative method – Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  4. mrgasport

    You can use zucchini to make a fake Apple Brown Betty for dessert also. And you can shred or grind it, let it drain, and freeze for later use in breads during the winter.

    Reply
  5. milus38

    I substituted 1 cup of sourdough starter for the sponge. It turned-out great

    Excellent – so glad to hear it… Thanks for letting us know. PJH

    Reply
  6. JuliaJ

    Re: PJ’s comment not to freeze dough if the freezer temps go below 0 degrees F

    Colder temps may kill the activated yeast cells. I once put yeast dough in my deep freeze where the temperature is well below 0 degrees F and the thawed dough never rose. (I salvaged it by kneading in a yeast/water slurry but never tried that again.) The freezer compartment of my refrigerator isn’t as cold so I use that instead if I need to freeze yeast doughs.

    Julia’s right – temps below 0°F kill yeast, so make sure your freezer isn’t that cold, readers. Thanks, Julia – PJH

    Reply
  7. Anne

    I have always wanted to know: What makes a thick-crust pizza a focaccia?

    Americans! Anne, as I understand it, in Italy, focaccia is a thicker flatbread, topped with just oil and salt/pepper and/or herbs. Pizzas are thinner and topped with all kinds of things (though not the variety we enjoy here). In this country, we’ve taken Italy’s thick focaccia, and topped it with our pizza toppings. Is it pizza? Focaccia? “A rose by any other name…” PJH

    Reply
  8. Anne

    Thanks, PJ, for that note about focaccia. American style – We taste, we say, ”Hmm. Yum!” and we make it our own way. What a great thing for the food scene!

    It happens that I have been making a lot of flatbread this summer. Every time I need to feed my starter, I turn the ‘discard’ into some simple dough and keep it in the fridge – good for at least a week. Everyday I cut a piece off and make it into whatever I fancy. Hot pitas with something savory or sweet. Pizza of whatever for whenever. All done in less time than finding a parking space in the City! But in the heat of this summer (here it means in the upper 70’s) I like to make thin-crust ‘focaccia’, in the ‘Italian’ way – the crust is topped with TJ’s Genova Pesto, or some sort of sauce I blend together, and little of anything else. The ‘focaccia’ is so easy to put together, and so portable, that I often bake two small ones as I eat my breakfast and pack them for lunch when the business of the day takes me away from home. Every time I open this lunch pack I get inquiry of what they are. “Skinny focaccia’’, I say. Now knowing focaccia and pizza are simply both ‘flat’, I think I can also call this ‘poor man’s pizza’?

    Reply

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