I found a summer love this year in LA. No, not the teen angst, straight from the movie “Grease,” boy-kind of summer love, but a reason to truly fall in love with LA: The Hollywood Cemetery Cinespia screenings. During the summer, the Hollywood Cemetery screens a movie against one of their buildings that is conveniently located near an open, grassy area, and every Saturday evening people line up to picnic, watch a movie, and generally be merry. It’s really pretty awesome.
In order to get a good spot to picnic and watch the movie, you have to get there pretty early, which often means you end up picnicking in line while waiting to picnic. Due to this long wait, you need to come prepared with plenty to eat & drink. As you can see, the supply of drink was never a problem for me and my friends.
As for the food, I wanted to make something that would be hearty and filling, but would also travel well. Oh, and I had a container of cherry tomatoes that I needed to use or they were going to go bad. So, thus was born a recipe for focaccia topped with roasted cherry tomatoes, a sort of buffed up tomato bruschetta, if you will.
This was the first time I had ever prepared cherry tomatoes this way, but it’s turned out to be one of the more versatile recipes I’ve discovered. In addition to the focaccia, you can pour this mixture over pizza dough and bake it with some sliced mozzarella, spoon it over toasted bread slices for some roasted tomato bruschetta, or toss with some cooked pasta for an easy sauce. One easy recipe, endless tasty possibilities…
Dough recipe adapted from Food Geeks
1 package active yeast (1 tablespoon)
1 cup warm water
3 ½ cups all purpose flour, approximately
1 tsp. salt
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine the water & yeast and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes in order to activate the yeast. In a separate bowl, mix together flour & salt, dig out a little “well” and pour in the yeast mixture and the oil. Mix together the ingredients until combined and turn onto a floured surface. By hand, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. (you can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook, but using your hands is more fun, trust me)
Form the dough into a ball, dust with flour, transfer back into mixing bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place the dough in a warm place and allow it to double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough. Transfer the dough to an oiled 10 ½ x 15 ½ inch baking sheets. (you can also use two 9-inch round pans, as I did) With the tips of your fingers, push “dimples” into the surface of the dough, this will help it absorb all the toppings. Cover the dough and let rise again until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake breads until the edges of the dough begin to firm, about 15 minutes. (Can be made a day in advance up to this point; slide the dough onto wire racks to cool, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. Or make well in advance, wrap well, and freeze.)
32 oz cherry tomatoes
2 -3 garlic cloves, chopped in half
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or basil, chopped
salt & pepper
Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add in tomatoes, garlic cloves and oregano or basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes. The cherry tomatoes will begin to wrinkle and burst. Once this begins to happen gently mash the tomatoes with a fork or potato masher. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the tomatoes are no longer soupy. Remove garlic cloves.
Add the tomato topping to the focaccia that has baked for 15 minutes and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to blacken on the edges.