I can’t take all the credit for these Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches. My youngest daughter suggested lasagna and garlic bread for dinner, and I mentioned how that would leave her non-meat-eating sister out of the mix and she suggested a tomato sandwich on the garlic bread. I took it from there and ended up with what you see pictured!
I started with Bon Appetit’s ‘Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia‘ recipe and added tons of garlic, most of which I cut into sticks and served alongside my Meat Wins! Lasagna. The rest I split in two and turned into sandwich bread. Garlicky, delicious, soft on the inside crisp on the outside, sandwich bread.
Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwich recipe:
- Tomatoes, garlic, basil: I call for Campari tomatoes but you can use whatever type you like. Campari tomatoes are sweet, deeply red, and not mealy at all. Garlic for the bread, and basil for building the Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwich.
- All-purpose flour, extra virgin olive oil, water, instant dry yeast, honey: For our dough. Focaccia’s beauty is in its simplicity. The honey adds a touch of balance. You can use active dry yeast instead, you’ll just need to give it more time to bloom before adding the flour and other ingredients.
- Italian seasoning, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, garlic powder: Flavor! Lots of salt in this recipe, but the bread calls for quite a bit. Garlic powder to make sure the focaccia is garlicky as hell, and the other seasonings are for the tomatoes.
How to Make Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwich recipe:
- Make the Garlicky Focaccia dough. Begin by making the focaccia: add your water to a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast and honey to a mixing bowl. Let the yeast bloom, then add your flour, garlic powder, and kosher salt to the bowl. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir just until all of the ingredients come together until you have a wet, shaggy, sticky dough. In another mixing bowl – a large one – add 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and use a basting brush to brush it all over the inside surface of the bowl. Transfer the focaccia dough to the larger mixing bowl and turn it over, gently, to coat the dough in oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 3-4 hours, until just over doubled.
- Prepare and shape the dough. When the dough has doubled, grab two forks: it’s time to deflate and form the dough. With a fork in each hand, slip the forks between the dough and the bowl farthest from you and lift it up, then over on top of the center. Pull out the forks, turn the bowl one-quarter, and repeat that action. Repeat twice more, until you’ve turned the bowl back into its original direction. Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with baking spray, then pour a tablespoon of olive oil into the center of the pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, and pour any oil that was collected in the bowl over the top of the dough. Pick up the pan off the counter, lift it a few inches, and then drop it. This will help the dough spread out. Cover the dough and let rise a second time in a warm place until doubled. This will take between 2-4 hours, give or take a bit. Yes, these Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches take a bit of time, but it’s worth it!
- Prepare the Tomatoes. While this second rise is happening prepare the tomatoes. In a small baking dish drizzle one teaspoon of olive oil and turn the pan or use a basting brush to coat the bottom evenly. Next, sprinkle half of the salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning over the oil. Drizzle half of the balsamic vinegar over the surface. Arrange the tomatoes in an even, single layer, pressing them down into the seasoned oil. Now, drizzle the remaining olive oil and vinegar over them, followed by the remaining salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Set aside while the dough continues rising.
- It’s Oven Time. Make sure one of your oven racks is in the dead center, and another is at the bottom. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Once the dough has doubled in size give it a poke. If it springs back quickly then it hasn’t developed enough and needs to rise for longer. If the indentation from your finger remains, it’s time to shape and bake. Lightly oil your hands with a bit of the remaining olive oil and start jabbing your fingertips into the dough with both hands, all the way down to the pan. Bon Appetit describes it as ‘aggressively playing the piano’ and that’s a fitting description. If the dough hasn’t spread out into the edges of the pan encourage it to spread as you dimple it.
- Dimple the Focaccia. Once there are impressions all over the surface of the dough and it’s spread completely out, drizzle one tablespoon of oil over the surface. Now, take your garlic cloves and place them all along the dough, pressing them down into it as you go. Bake the Garlicky Focaccia in the center of the preheated oven until puffy and golden brown, about 25 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes to the oven on the lower oven rack and roast until the tomatoes have released their juices and are beginning to shrivel up and curl at the edges – also about 25 minutes. Set the tomatoes aside when they’re finished cooking and let rest until you’re ready to assemble the Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches.
- Bake it up! Pull the baked focaccia from the oven. Use a fork to gently remove the garlic cloves from the surface of the bread. Transfer them to a small bowl, along with all of the remaining extra virgin olive oil. Use the fork to break and mash the roasted garlic cloves up, making a paste as they combine with the oil. Baste the top of the bread all over the with the mashed roasted garlic. Use all of it, and spread it evenly, getting it into the indentations the garlic cloves left behind. Return the bread to the oven and bake for 5 minutes more. Pull it again, and allow it to cool until you can handle it comfortably.
- Prepare for Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches. Once the bread is cooled use a serrated knife to cut it in half, lengthwise. Cut each length into three evenly-sized rectangles then turn them on their sides and split them in half. Now you’ve got bread for six sandwiches. Arrange one-half of each rectangle on a baking sheet and arrange the sliced cheese along the top of it, covering the whole half. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling at the edges a bit, then pull it.
- Make the Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches. Arrange the basil leaves over the cheese, then layer the tomatoes on top of the basil. Once all the tomatoes have been transferred to a sandwich get a basting brush and slather the seasoned oil from the baking dish onto the other side of the bread. Go ahead and plop it on top and you’ve got Roasted Tomato Focaccia Sandwiches!