Spring Focaccia with Lemon Asparagus, fresh like a Spring day, simple and tasty. Perfect for outdoor picnics, brunch, snack, or to serve as an appetizer with other delectable spreads.
Song of the day: Per Le Strade Una Canzone - Eros Ramazzotti, ft. Luis Fonsi
Spring brings with it warmer weather and fresh produce in the markets. Asparagus is a fantastic treat this time of the year. Versatile and delicious, with many nutrients but few calories.
Spring is in the air
Spring in Italy has always meant having plenty of asparagus and many recipes to make.
I am back in Canada but I still have some recipes to share with you that I made in Rome and were taste-tested by my parents. Since my previous Focaccia with Cherry Tomatoes and Oregano was a success, I thought I'd give them another delicious one.
This Spring Focaccia with Lemon Asparagus was indeed a hit and they kept talking about it for days. Simple, easy and fresh, we had it in place of our Pizza night but it can be perfect for brunch, appetizer, snack, or light lunch. A big piece came actually with me to work the day after and was eaten cold for lunch. Just as delicious!
Let's get started
Firstly, I made the focaccia dough. I made it in a bowl and used my hands to mix and knead. You can definitely use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, or a food processor, to make things easier and faster.
Tips for a good dough:
I used active dry yeast that I sprinkled in the flour with a pinch of sugar, before adding the e.v.o. oil, salt, and water. Then I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes to make a nice and smooth ball of dough. I oiled a bowl, put the dough ball in, oiled the top and covered the bowl with plastic wrap. My usual spot to rest the dough is the oven, turned off and with the light on. It keeps the dough away from air drafts, and the oven light gives a nice warm temperature. The dough needs to rest for at least 1 hour.
While the dough was resting, I prepared the asparagus. I washed them, chopped the bottom off (a nice chunk, you want to take out the hardest and more fibrous part) and cooked them for about 5 minutes in e.v.o. oil, garlic, and lemon juice. They are still slightly crunchy and so delicious. You might want to make more and serve them as a side dish!
Make it pretty!
The dough has risen, the asparagus are ready. I chose a rectangular pan, oiled the bottom really well and spread the focaccia gently in it, using my fingertips to stretch it out. While stretching, I also pushed down with my fingertips to make little holes in the dough, peculiar of the focaccia. Those are the little "dimples" where the oil is going to rest.
I brushed e.v.o. oil on the surface, then arranged the asparagus on the top of the focaccia, pressing lightly to make them sink a little. Use your creativity, I saw the top of the focaccia as a field and the asparagus as leaves of grass swaying in the wind.
The aroma tells the story
The aroma coming out of the oven commences the waves of hunger and wanting to just tear off a piece and eat it.
But no, first there are pictures to take. The life of a food blogger.
Plain or dressed
When the focaccia is slightly cooled off I crumbled the feta on top. The salty pungent flavor notes of the feta greatly complement the earthy yet rich flavors of the asparagus.
Wait, that's not all. What balances and holds everything together is a light drizzle of honey. If you're vegan, you can definitely omit both feta and honey and you will still have amazing focaccia. But if you're not, I highly recommend it.
Let's not forget the foundation
That golden focaccia, soft and pillowy on the inside, with a crunchy crust and borders (my favorite parts are the angles!), which is really the canvas that comes to life with the aid of all the other ingredients.
Outdoor entertaining season is upon us -or we would hope, fingers crossed- and with that comes thoughts of what food to serve. This Spring Focaccia with Lemon Asparagus would definitely be a highlight of the party.