Sage and sun dried tomato focaccia



Sage is a herb that has both mystical and magical qualities. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks and Romans, used to preserve meat, and to treat snakebites and ulcers. Sprigs of dried sage were burnt in their temples to as to impart wisdom to the priests, or so it was believed. Sage, along with lavender was also the earliest room fresheners. Considering many people lived in the same houses along with their animals, this would have been a necessity.

Sage has a strong sweet flavour and is an excellent addition to pork or chicken, also as a stuffing ingredient.

Sage

I found a packet of fresh sage on a recent visit to Amma Nana. The leaves were quite small, indicating that the flavour would be quite intense. Some of the leaves went into a chicken I was roasting. Some of the remaining leaves were chopped up and sprinkled over a focaccia, along with sun dried tomatoes, olives and onions.
That was quite a heady combination. And a perfect match with the roasted chicken.


Some "sage" advice- soak the sun dried tomatoes in warm water. It will be easier to chop finely.

Sage and sun dried tomato focaccia

Ingredients
275 gm flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
About 150 ml water

Topping
1 onion, cut in wedges
2 tablespoons sliced olives
3 sage leaves, chopped fine
4 sun dried tomato pieces, soak in warm water, pat dry and chop finely
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
100 gm blue cheese, crumbled
3-4 tablespoons olive oil

Method
Sift flour onto a worktop, mix in salt and sugar.
Make a well, pour in lukewarm water, olive oil and sprinkle yeast over the top.
Combine till a rough dough is formed, the dough should be a little sticky.
Knead well, using the base of your palm. Stretch the dough, roll it back, do a quarter turn and stretch it out again.
As you work the dough, it will tighten up and become soft and springy.
Knead for about 10 minutes, then place in a greased bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place till it doubles in size,  about 40-60 minutes.
Punch down the dough to expel all the air bubbles, place it on a flour dusted worktop and cover with the bowl for about 10 minutes.
Press the dough with fingertips into a disc, then use a rolling pin to roll it out into a 9"x 13" rectangle.
Grease a baking pan of the same dimension, fit the dough into it and gently pull to fit the corners.
Leave to rise for 15 minutes, then make indentations on the dough with the tip of a finger.
Scatter onion, olive slices, chopped sage, sun dried tomato and both cheeses.
Leave to prove for another 20 minutes, then bake at 200°C for about 20 minutes or till golden.
Remove from the oven, leave to cool for about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack.
Slice and serve hot.





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