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Friday, October 5, 2012

Sweet Onion and Herb Focaccia

Fall is my favourite time of year. Crisp sunny days, cool nights and back to the days where a hot bowl of soup is a welcoming sight.

This past summer was enjoyable and the first gardening experience at our new home has been fulfilling.  We are still enjoying a few tomatoes from our plants that don’t seem to want to give up and the cucumbers gave their best allowing us to share and share again.

There’s nothing that bonds neighbours together like a gift of home grown tomatoes and cucumbers passed over the fence.  I think we have actually inspired a few more neighbourhood gardens for next summer.

The aubergine plants have surprised us with a second crop and this week I will be harvesting two more gorgeous eggplants, totally unexpected but again graciously accepted.

My little crop of herbs has amazed me.  They have given all summer long and will keep on giving throughout the winter months after being dried and stored. 

I have never been a fan of store bought dried herbs since they rarely give the flavour they promise.  Oregano and the small leaf Globe Basil were the only herbs that I ventured to dry out from the garden each year since they gave very good results. This year I have managed to successfully add lemon thyme, rosemary and a small amount of cinnamon basil to my collection.

A sprinkle of freshly dried herbs on a Sweet Onion Focaccia I baked this week gave me the first taste of a most delicious winter ahead!

 Sweet Onion and Herb Focaccia

2 large or 3 medium Vidalia or Sweet Texas Onions
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable or corn oil
salt to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons mixed dried herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil etc.)
  1. Peel and slice onions very thinly.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat then add onions.
  3. Gently saute onions then add salt and sugar and continue to cook until soft and golden.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
Focaccia Dough
4 ½ cups flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup olive oil
  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in 2 cups warm water.
  2. In a bowl mix together 2 ½ cups flour, olive oil and salt then add dissolved yeast mixture.
  3. Beat with a wooden spoon until soft elastic dough is formed.
  4. Add remaining 2 cups of flour gradually until dough begins to come together.
  5. Place dough on a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until soft, elastic and smooth.
  6. Cover and let rest for at least 20 minutes.

Sweet Onion and Herb Focaccia
  1. Place dough in the center of an oiled pan.( approximate measurement 10X15 inches.)
  2. With fingers poke and stretch dough until it fills the pan.
  3. Top with sautéed onions and sprinkle generously with dried herbs.
  4. Let rest uncovered for 15 minutes.
  5. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
  6. To retain a crisp crust, remove from pan and cool on rack.

Notes, Tips and Suggestions
  • Make a simple herb focaccia by omitting onion and brushing top of unbaked focaccia with olive oil then sprinkle with herbs and course salt.
  • Focaccia may be shaped into a round pan if desired.
  • A smaller pan makes a thicker foccacia.
  • Delicious used as sandwich bread (testimonials available upon request:)

Drying Fresh Herbs

When living in our former home I would harvest the oregano and globe basil at the end of the season, tie them into bundles and dry them in the basement.

Quite unintentionally, after cutting the fresh herbs this year I decided to bundle and leave them hanging in our backyard tool shed for a while then later complete the drying process indoors.

Wise choice as the heat in the wooden tool shed dehydrated the herbs very quickly and with great success.

I encourage everyone to plant an herb garden in the summer, enjoy using them while fresh then dry and store them for the coming winter months. A few plants will yield enough dried herbs to last the winter until it’s time to plant again in the Spring.

Once you’ve enjoyed freshly dried herbs in your winter dishes you will never again reach for store bought which will unfortunately continue to age on the shelf.

The Dehydrator

Drying Herbs Hanging from the Rafters






Summer In A Jar


  1. Great photos. The dried herbs look so beautiful. I hear a good tip with dried herbs is to rub them between your fingers before using to release the oils. Also, very funny about the dehydrator!!

    1. Growing and drying the herbs has truly been a labour of love for me. I will surely do it again.
      I have always rubbed the dry herbs with my fingers when using them it truly brings out the best flavour.
      Only problem is that one might think you're into a new brand of perfume since the oils also leave that herbaceous fragrance on your skin for quite a while.

  2. have you all missed me, I have been without a computer for about a month, still have no computer but Sabrina put me on Dominic's lap top, I have missed seeing all the recipes and reading the comments. Enjoyed catchint up. I love the dehydrator, quite a large one, isn't it. Focaccia looks amazing, I'm not as good as you, I buy the dough and top it with onions and some hot peppers, that's our favorite.

    1. We certainly have missed you,just thought you were too busy trying out recipes.
      Glad you're back though it was lonely without you.
      You should try making your own dough it's so easy and very therapeutic not to mention that it only costs a few pennies to make.
      Next time I will put hot peppers on my husband's side of the focaccia, he will love it.
      Hope your computer feels better soon!