Pomegranate Focaccia with Dipping Sauce
No, it’s not Thursday again already; it’s a special weekend edition of Spontaneous Tomato for the Virtual Vegan Potluck!
The potluck is a twice-yearly virtual event, with bloggers from all over the world sharing vegan recipes (there are 146 participants this time around!). The recipe posts are all linked up to each other in a circle, so you can click your way through the vegan appetizers, drinks, and bread recipes—including this one—and keep going through the salads, sides, soups, main dishes, and desserts.
(Scroll down for links to the recipes that precede and follow this one.)
Like every single bread recipe I’ve ever posted on this blog, this focaccia is not actually my creation, but my fiancée Paula’s. (Since I prefer cooking to baking… though I love being baked for…)
However! I feel qualified to write it up—rather than turning it over to Paula for a guest post, as I typically would—since I did contribute something: the pomegranate seeds!
I love pomegranate seeds, and cannot get enough of them sprinkled over salad greens. I enjoy crunching on the sweet, juicy jewels often enough that it’s more than worth it for me to buy pomegranates whole and then extract all of the seeds myself—none of those seeds that have been sitting in plastic packaging for who knows how long. That way I can store fresh pomegranate seeds in the fridge as they disappear quickly, whenever I spoon them onto salads (or eat them buy the spoonful…).
I look forward to pomegranate season so much that I impatiently buy even early-season, underripe pomegranates (like the one I’ve used here—you can see the seeds are still half white and not entirely ruby red). The flavor was still delectable, though: the seeds were both tart and sweet with a nutty crunch.
Paula’s made rosemary focaccia many times before, though we’ve never posted a recipe for it here. Simple to make, focaccia can still steal the show, especially if you generously drizzle it with good olive oil before baking. I think it’s one of the more perfect breads for snacking and dipping; I guess I could have just as easily signed up for the VVP appetizer category as bread category with this one.
A popular take on focaccia is to bake grapes into the top of it, and though we’ve never actually tried that, that was my inspiration for this recipe. That and the tempting pomegranate on my counter…
Not only was the result colorful and festive—I may be posting this in time for Thanksgiving, but it looks downright Christmas-y—it was also incredibly delicious. The pomegranate seeds lost just a little of their juiciness in the oven, but still maintained their distinctive flavor, giving the crispy bread little refreshingly tangy pockets of sweetness.
It came as a surprise to me how well fresh rosemary complemented the pomegranate, too. Originally, I thought we could forgo focaccia’s usual sidekick, rosemary, for the pomegranate, but on a whim I nibbled a few rosemary needles and popped some pomegranate seeds in my mouth, and the flavors seemed quite happy together.
Ever since Paula ditched her bread machine and fell in love with making bread from scratch, we’ve been lucky to have an abundance of bread to share with friends; Paula’s breads sometimes form the backbone of a dinner party menu—she’ll go all out and bake seven or eight baguettes, and I’ll come up with a way to feature them both as an appetizer and alongside our main dish(es).
The best way to celebrate a fresh-baked loaf of bread and turn it into an appetizer (without using a cheese plate) is to serve it with a dipping sauce. Fresh-baked bread is so heavenly on its own, that this doesn’t need to be complicated: the easiest thing to do is to set out an assortment of nice olive oils and vinegars in shallow dishes, perhaps with salt and pepper or diced fresh herbs sprinkled into them. (Or the rosemary-laden magic sauce, which I wrote about here, never disappoints either.)
Of course there’s no need to splurge on Tuscan herb-infused olive oil or artisan cinnamon fig balsamic vinegar when you can make your own fancy flavored dipping sauce! For this pomegranate focaccia, I wanted to make a dipping sauce based around pomegranate molasses (an ingredient commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine). The super sweet reduced pomegranate juice is balanced out by olive oil, lemon juice, and vinegar, to make the perfect addictively tangy accompaniment to warm homemade bread.
This is the fourth VVP and my third time participating. Last time around I actually won VVP favorite in the Bread category (thank you for voting for me!) for my recipe for Sourdough Epi Baguettes with Rhubarb Blood Orange Ginger Jam.
I’ve had so much fun in the past checking out everyone’s creations and expanding my understanding about what vegan food can be. If you’re new to VVP, I hope you’ll take the time to click through to all of the other potluck posts, too! Starting with the recipe that precedes mine on the blog Sift, Stir and Savour, and the recipe that follows mine on the blog The Vegan Kat. (Link buttons appear at the very bottom of this post, too.)
And if you’ve been scrolling through the VVP and you’re new to my blog, welcome! I’m a vegan-friendly blog; have a look around and check out the vegan recipes section of my recipe index. (And follow along on Pinterest or Facebook if you like what you see.)
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Pomegranate Focaccia with Dipping Sauce
Active time: 25 min.; Total time: 3½ hours
~ 1½ cups bread flour
~ 1½ cups all-purpose flour
~ 1 cup warm water
~ 1 tsp. yeast
~ ¼ cup olive oil
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 2-3 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, diced, and divided
~ 4 Tbsp. fresh pomegranate seeds
~ extra olive oil for drizzling
Pomegranate Dipping Sauce Ingredients (Serves 2-4):
~ 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
~ 1½ Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
~ 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
~ squeeze of fresh lemon juice
~ salt and pepper, to taste
How to make it:
1. Add the yeast to the warm water and set it aside for five minutes until frothy. In a large bowl, combine the yeast/water mixture with the flours, olive oil, salt, and 1 tsp. of the diced rosemary. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until the dough forms a nice, uniform ball with all the ingredients well incorporated.
2. Lightly spray a large bowl with olive oil cooking spray to keep the dough from sticking, then transfer the ball of dough to the bowl (give the dough itself another spray of olive oil), then cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise—preferably in a warmer part of your kitchen—for 2 hours.
3. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, turn out the risen dough and gently tug it out to a large, flat shape that’s almost as big as the baking sheet. Use your fingers to dimple the top of the dough, and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, gently pushing them into the dough so they’ll stick better. Sprinkle with the remaining diced rosemary and drizzle generously with olive oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees.
4. Once the oven is pre-heated to 500 and the bread has completed its second rise, lower the oven to 450 degrees, then remove the plastic wrap from the bread and bake for 20-25 minutes until the bread is lightly golden on top. Let cool at least 10 minutes before slicing.
5. Make the dipping sauce: Combine all dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Serve in a wide, shallow dish for optimal dipping.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Your Virtual Vegan Potluck navigation buttons:
(Or start at the very beginning of the potluck!)
Related recipe posts (all 4 are vegan):
|Sourdough Epi Baguettes with Rhubarb Blood Orange Ginger Jam||Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Hazelnuts||Homemade Ciabatta||Muhammara and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus|