My aim for this year is to become better at making lunch. Breakfast is the easiest meal of the day. I am a creature of habit and will happily eat porridge for most of the year. Dinner is planned every week so no issues there, but lunch is a massive mental stumbling block for me. I look at pictures of other people’s wonderful lunches on Instagram and just feel tired. Everybody else seems to have boundless energy, creating amazing salads and other such concoctions which they then share with the world. It’s winter though, and I don’t feel like salad. So I am on a mission to create my own winter-worthy lunches. Which is where this stuffed mushroom and cheese focaccia comes in.
Left to my own devices, I can be found at 5-to-lunch scrabbling for some ham and cheese to throw between two slices of bread. This modus operandi does not, however, sit well with the The Princess and Mr Grumpy. Weekend lunchtime usually finds both of them hovering, questioning “What’s for lunch?”. Apparently they are unable to work it out for themselves. My response was to send Mr Grumpy foraging at the local shops. This worked for a while. Then he turned, well, grumpy and suggested that we [I] should be making things at home.
Stuffed focaccia is very easy to assemble when I have a bucket of stored dough in the fridge. I use whatever I have on hand as filling; prosciutto, olives, slow roasted tomatoes, canned artichokes and cheese are all good. If you have a large amount of mushrooms on hand*, they make a wonderful filling with some good nutty cheese.
Whilst fresh mushrooms cannot be frozen, cooked mushrooms freeze really well. I often make a double batch of these garlicky mushrooms as they are handy to have stashed in the freezer for meal emergencies. Stir the mushrooms through pasta with some shredded chicken and pesto for a quick dinner. They work well as an omelette filling with some shredded cheese and are lovely are mixed through scrambled eggs.
I always make a large focaccia, which allows enough for lunch with some left over. These leftovers go into the freezer and can be reheated in a sandwich press for lunch. The joy of having stored dough is that you can make your focaccia any size you like, so feel free to make individual ones if you prefer. Perfect for a winter’s lunch.
Stuffed Garlicky Mushroom and Cheese Focaccia
This focaccia can be made using any of your favourite fillings. Just replace the mushrooms with your preferred fillings and assemble and bake as detailed.
For the Garlicky Mushrooms
- 2 Tablespoons ghee or olive oil
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 300 g mushrooms sliced, any type
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- Salt & pepper
To make the Garlicky Mushrooms
- In a large fry pan, briefly saute the garlic in the melted ghee for one minute.
- Add the mushrooms, thyme and some salt. Cook for about five minutes, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released most of their moisture and are starting to fry.
- Stir in the parsley, season with additional salt (if necessary) and pepper, and remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool slightly.
To make the Focaccia
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan forced)
- Either with a rolling pin or by hand, roll or stretch one of the dough balls to fit the base of the baking tray. Place the sheet of dough into the tray.
- Spread the cooled mushrooms over the dough, leaving a clear 2cm edge on each side of the dough.
- Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the mushrooms.
- Roll out the remaining dough ball to fit the baking dish and carefully lay this over the top of the cheese.
- Crimp the two pieces of dough together.
- Dimple the top of the focaccia with your fingers. Drizzle olive oil over the top of the focaccia and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Cook for 30 - 40 minutes until the focaccia is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and slide the cooked focaccia from the baking tray onto a board or rack.
- Cut into pieces and serve.
To crimp the dough, I tuck my fingers under the bottom layer of dough, pull it up over and roll it together with the top layer. It doesn't really matter how you crimp it together, as long as you get a good seal on the two pieces of dough.
I usually just stretch the dough by hand until it fits the baking tray. I find this easier than trying to roll it out, but it will give you a more rustic appearance. Both ways work, so use whichever you prefer.
As much as I try, I can never seem to get really good dimples in the top of my dough. Maybe I don't push hard enough, but don't be too discouraged if your dimples disappear.
* I was lucky enough to be offered 4 kilos of mushrooms to play with by the Australian Mushroom Growers Association. I have a few mushroomy recipes to share as a result, but promise to space them out so you don’t suffer mushroom exhaustion. The mushrooms were accepted in accordance with the terms of my disclosure policy.