So, here's my entry to the vegan Chopped! competition! It's, like, a brunch-friendly pizza. Because of how filling it is, in true brunch fashion, you could also bake it in a large rectangle baking pan & cut servings into smaller squares. Sweet, savory, spicy, & slightly...flowery? The butternut rosemary focaccia takes some time to make, but its so worth it. My crust browned a little due to the apricot glaze, which was nice, but I advise whoever dares to make this to be careful about not spreading the preserves too near the edge of the dough because the apricot preserves may carmelize into a hard, sticky mess on either the edge of your baking pan or the bottom of your oven (oops). The rosemary brings a depth of flavor to the dish that you just can't beat. The popcorn not only does much to thicken the cheez sauce, but also adds a certain consistency that I really enjoy. The butternut squash? Not only does it give a special flair/color to the focaccia, but I took a note from Oh She Glows & also added a touch of butternut to the cheez sauce! So good!
The culprit ingredients.
Recipe + loads of pictures after the jump!
First off, you're gonna have to roast your butternut squash. I cut off the ends, peeled the squash, scooped out the seeds, & chopped the flesh(?) into large chunks. I lightly oiled the squash & stuck it into a 425° oven until tender, about 35 minutes.
Like I explained in my last post, I've been very excited about this competition. I've been scribbling about in my notebook like nobody's business. I couldn't wait to get my hands dirty & show the world my masterpiece.
Jenny's Butternut Rosemary Focaccia
I imagine this bread would be awesome by itself, baked in a square pan, brushed with olive oil & perhaps sprinkled with more rosemary.
Ingredients1 cup puréed roasted butternut squash (or use canned - I imagine you could also substitue with pumpkin)
1 packet yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (I'm sure you could experiment with whole wheat or gluten-free)
1 cup soymilk, lukewarm, divided
2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
Activate the yeast by whisking it into 3/4 cup of the lukewarm soymilk. Set aside 5-10 minutes, until frothy. In a stand mixer with a hook attachment, or by hand in a large mixing bowl, combine yeast mixture, squash, flour, sea salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, & the rosemary leaves. Knead dough until elastic & smooth. If dough is too dry, add remaining 1/4 cup of soy milk, a little at a time. If dough is too sticky, add more flour, 1 tbsp at a time. Dough should only be slightly sticky.
Mold dough into a ball. With remaining tbsp of olive oil, grease a large bowl & coat the dough in oil. Place the ball of dough into the well-oiled bowl & cover with plastic wrap. Place a kitchen towel over the top. Allow dough to sit for about 2 1/2 hours in a warm, draft-free environment, until doubled in size. Alternately (& more brunch-friendly), you could place the dough in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
Remove dough from bowl & press into pizza pan (or rectangular pan), until it reaches the sides. Cover in plastic wrap & allow to rise 1 more hour.
While your dough is in its last stages of pre-oven rising, prepare your toppings! I used 1/2 - 3/4 cup apricot preserves, some red onion, grape tomatoes sliced in half, & mushrooms. At this time, you may also wish to pop & process your popcorn for the cheez sauce.
After an hour has passed, preheat the oven to 450°. Spread the preserves onto your dough & add your toppings. (In retrospect, I probably would have added more onions & mushrooms, as the focaccia is pretty thick.) Bake at 450° for only five minutes, then drop the temperature to 400° for the remaining 15-20 minutes. You will know when the focaccia is ready when the vegetables have slightly browned & the bottom of the focaccia is sufficiently golden brown in color.
Jenny's Cheezy Popcorn Sauce
While your focaccia is baking, prepare this sauce. I thought of it when remembering the flavors of popcorn the neighborhood boy scouts used to sell.
1 1/2 cup plain popped popcorn, put in a food processor until largest pieces are about the size of black peppercorns
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 cup puréed roasted butternut squash (or canned squash)
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (this will make it sufficiently spicy - if you're not into too much spice, reduce to 1/8 tsp or substitute with black pepper)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup soy milk
1 cup water
3 tbsp earth balance or vegan margarine
In a bowl, combine nutritional yeast, butternut squash, flour, cayenne (or black pepper), salt, & soy milk. Mix until no large lumps remain & transfer to a saucepan over medium, medium-high heat. Add water & whisk frequently to constantly. When sauce begins to thicken & comes to a boil, add earth balance. Quickly toast popcorn pieces in a small saucepan over medium heat, 3-4 minutes, or until some pieces retain color. When focaccia is out of the oven, take sauce off of the heat & fold in popcorn pieces. Drizzle sauce over focaccia &/or serve on the side for extra dipping.
Once my focaccia came out of the oven, I topped it with peppery organic baby arugula & drizzled the the cheezy popcorn sauce over the whole thing. I served the remaining sauce on the side for extra drizzling/dipping. (The photo at the top of this post is the closest depiction of the focaccia's true coloring.)
Thick focaccia goodness.
& there you have it! My beautiful entry! Thank you to all who read through it!
P.S. I also roasted my butternut squash seeds! If your brunch were to include a salad, they would be the perfect crunchy topping!