Winter Focaccia

Serves 6–8

In this recipe originally inspired by Lydia Bastianich, we’ve replaced her tomatoes with winter produce.

1 packet active dry yeast
1¼ cups warm water
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, for bowl
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, cleaned, sliced thin
1 cup cooked Yukon potatoes, cut in thin slices
½ cup olive oil (as needed)
1 tsp. coarse sea salt (as needed)
½ tsp. dried thyme

In a measuring cup, dissolve yeast in ¼ cup warm water and let it sit until foamy. Mix yeast mixture with the remaining 1 cup of lukewarm water.

Put flour and salt in food processor. With processor running, blend flour and salt, then slowly pour in yeast mixture and process for 30 seconds. A very soft, moist dough should gather on the blade. (If it’s very sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time to stiffen. If the dough is dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.)

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for a minute using as little flour as possible, until the dough forms a smooth, soft round. Coat a big bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, drop in the dough, and then turn it upside down to get oil over all of it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1 hour.

Meanwhile, toss leeks, potatoes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon thyme in a small bowl and let them marinate. Preheat oven to 450°.

Coat a 10–12-inch round, high-edged baking pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Punch down dough and add it to the pan, gently pressing to stretch into an even disk. Drain leeks and potatoes, reserving oil. Scatter the vegetables all over the focaccia and lightly press into dough. Drizzle reserved oil over the dough. Let rise 20 minutes uncovered.

Sprinkle ½ teaspoon coarse salt over dough and gently press with your fingers to create dimples. Bake 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake another 10–15 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown and vegetables caramelized. When finished, brush with more reserved oil and sprinkle with dried thyme. Cool before serving warm.

Recently Joy acted on a persistent daydream by converting part of her backyard into a garden for berries and a second garden to build up the soil for vegetables. When she isn’t tending these new gardens, she dabbles in food styling and design for Edible Ohio Valley and volunteers on a local farm.