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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Focaccia Bread Salad

Summer may mean heat, but it also means great produce. At least in my part of the world. Last week we were loving a visit from the 'Polar Vortex' with record low highs. Yep a good 30 degrees below our normal ridiculously hot summer temps. This coming week, though, we will flirt with the triple digits again. Yuck. When the weather is that hot, I like a good salad. But a salad of simple greens just doesn't have that staying power. This one is a little different. A bread salad in the old peasant tradition. OK no peasants here in my part of the world either, but had I been born in Europe in the middle ages, I most assuredly would have been among the peasantry. I once took a test that said I had the "gift" of poverty. Woohoo. Looking for the positive,  I guess that means that I concentrate on the simple things in life--the meaningful stuff. Like feeding a family and spending time with them.

So peasant food was cheap and available...and bread was both. Not sure fresh produce such as salad greens were particularly favored in the old days, so I am not sure of the origin of dishes of this kind. I am pretty sure the Italians brought it into favor with their Panzanella--a bread and tomato salad dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. This is rather close. Some add cucumbers and capers. I went ahead and added in bell peppers, red onion and fresh basil to those cucumbers. Pretty darn tasty. We are not devotees of capers, but you can add 'em if you want. Some cheese would also be welcome, but optional

Since artisan bread is a big obstacle for low carbers, I improvised. I adapted my Sammie Bread recipe from the June Diner News. I made a half batch and added some extra herbs for flavor. Go ahead and make that bread in the morning when it is cool enough to heat the oven. The bread is even better if it has some time to get a little stale, more like a crouton.

Focaccia Bread

1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup ground golden flax meal
2 tsp psyllium husk powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Italian herb seasoning
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup boiling water

In a medium bowl, combine almond flour and flax seed meal. In a bullet blender, grind the psyllium husks into a super fine powder. Stir in the baking powder, salt, onion powder, Italian herbs, and garlic powder. Lightly beat eggs and add them to the bowl along with the olive oil. Add in the boiling water and stir well until the mixture comes together in a wet dough. Press into an oiled round baking dish or small pie plate. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serves 4:        243 calories  4 net g carbs  18 g fat

cubed and sauteed bread 

Now to assemble the salad:

Focaccia Bread Salad

1 recipe Focaccia Bread

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 green bell pepper
1/8 red onion
1/2 cucumber
1 tomato or 2 Roma tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, sliced

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the focaccia bread into bite sized cubes. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Toss the bread cubes into the pan. Saute the cubes until they are toasty on all sides and lightly browned. Set aside to cool. Cut all the vegetables into bite size chunks. Combine the focaccia cubes, vegetables and basil leaves in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle over the salad and toss. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4:   365 calories   9 net g carbs   28 g  fat

This would be wonderful with along side a steak or grilled chicken breast. Now is the time to take advantage of all that fresh produce that abounds this time of year. No need to add complicated flavors when the natural goodness is so obvious. Some bites taste more like tomato, others like the cucumber and some taste more like the peppers. This salad is fun to eat and the bread adds an interesting texture and substance. Just a little lemon juice and olive oil make the best dressing to keep things light.Since I am all into tasting the fresh veggies, the next issue of the Diner News will feature all sorts of new recipes for Farmer's Market finds. Fresh at its best! You can always order the monthly newsletter here. That one will be coming August 1st.

It has been a good weekend. My thanks go out to you who ordered the new e-book, A Table for Two. That is a great new resource for smaller families living the low carb life. And remember, proceeds from all my book sales go to support the alternative school I run. So, thank you for helping me help the teens!

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Anonymous said...

Have you tried making croutons with the focaccia?

Godslamb said...

Hey Lisa,
For this wonderful sounding focaccia, do you have to use the psyllium husk powder? It is only a teaspoon, and I have none. What is the purpose of it? Thanks so much.

Lisa Marshall said...

The psyllium husk powder adds structure to the bread affecting the moisture content and making it much more breadlike. You can try without it for more of a quickbread take.