For a long time we’ve wanted to create our own version of the classic Italian tuna sandwich. We love the texture and flavor of this dish, not to mention how it avoids dairy or anything processed. We thought “how hard could it be to make this ourselves, but make it our way?”
I truly love everything homemade, especially bread. This is a fairly basic approach to focaccia with our own toppings. It is not a big stretch from traditional focaccia. Ours turned out fluffier than most we’ve tried in restaurants. Needless to say, our entire dish was just as tasty as any time we’ve ever had this while dining out. Of course, ours was made together, with love, which makes it all the better!
This recipe will take some time. The tuna is quick and easy, but you’ll find yourself with some downtime while waiting for the focaccia to do its thing. Making this with your spouse or family is really a lot of fun. Enjoy!
- 2 teaspoons rapid-rising dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Cornmeal or corn “bread crumbs”
- Fresh rosemary
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup of sliced Kalamata and green olives
- sea salt and black pepper
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
We used our large Cuisinart food processor to make our dough, but you can also use a good standing mixer. Either way, make sure you use the dough blade or hook, respectively. If you want to emulate most of the history of humanity, go old school and give your arms a workout by using a bowl and a large spoon.
Activate the yeast by mixing it with the warm water and sugar. The ingredients may not completely dissolve, but that’s okay. Let it stand for three to five minutes. Foam should form at the top.
Turn your food processor or mixer on low the “Dough” setting. Carefully add the flour to the mixing bowl. Dissolve the salt in two tablespoons of water. Add it to the mixing bowl, then add 1/4 cup olive oil.
The dough will begin to look like what you’ve seen pizza chefs throw in the air. Stop your mixer or food processor now and then to scrape the unmixed flour and other ingredients down into the main dough forming. Continue mixing until all of the dough is pliable and smooth. This may take anywhere from five to ten minutes. If the dough is too sticky, carefully add flour until it firms up.
Place the dough on a clean table or marble slab. Fold it until you can reasonably assume any large air pockets are out of it, all the while molding it into a round shape. Put some oil in a glass bowl, and place the dough in it. Turn the dough to make sure the entire surface is very lightly coated.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place the bowl on your stovetop without lighting the burners. This will help the dough take advantage of the pilot light, which provides a very small amount of warmth. Wait up to one hour for the dough to almost double in size. Kids will enjoy watching this happen.
Coat a cookie sheet with a thin layer of extra virgin olive oil. On top of that, place a sprinkling of corn “bread crumbs” or corn meal. This will help prevent the dough from sticking to the sheet. Remove the dough from your stovetop and bowl, and place it back on the clean table or marble slab. Pound by hand or roll with a rolling pin until the dough is in a flat shape which will fit on your cookie sheet. Make sure no area is thicker than 1/2 of an inch and not too much thinner.
Place the dough on the cookie sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and wait for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Uncover dough and push small indentations on the surface with your fingertips. Coat the top of the dough with extra virgin olive oil. Add the garlic, olives, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes on bottom rack. Remove when the edges begin to brown. Use your judgement here depending how firm you want your focaccia. Remember the results and adjust the next time you make this tasty dish.
Mediterranean Tuna Ingredients:
- 2 cans of white tuna in water drained
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 cup of sliced Kalamata and green olives
- 2 tablespoons of capers
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
- sea salt and black pepper
In a large non reactive bowl add in the two cans of drained tuna. Then add in the celery, capers, olives, lemon zest and scallions. Mix well and add in good quality olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Mix well and add in a pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
Now, slice the fresh baked focaccia and spoon on the tuna mixture to create your own sandwiches. Serve immediately and enjoy.
The real thrill of this dish is not only is it incredibly delicious, but you can serve it knowing you made everything from scratch. After you make your first focaccia, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. You mostly have to do it with patience because the dough needs to rest and have the chemical reactions it needs to in order to rise and settle. It’s a great dish to make with kids because they can use the pauses to avert their attention elsewhere.
The other great thing about focaccia is there are many standard ways to make it, but you can really step out here and make it your own. Try a little crushed red pepper on top, or whatever else you’re into. Use ours as a starting point and have fun experimenting!