Tuscan Grape and Rosemary Focaccia (Schiacciata a l'Uva)

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

With market tables and bins groaning under the weight of an extraordinary abundance and variety of local produce, late summer and early fall are truly wonderful seasons for cooks in southwestern Ontario — I daresay that almost every fruit, vegetable, green and herb that I've cooked with over the past few months has been grown locally, sometimes as locally as my own backyard! One of the treats that I look most forward to every fall harvest are baskets of gorgeous deep blue Coronation grapes. Sweet, tangy and juicy, these colorful little gems — sometimes known just as "blue grapes" — are essentially a variety of Concord grapes with all the glorious Concord grape flavor but without seeds, making them perfect and easy for snacking on.

And snack on the first few baskets I always do, but I'm also on the hunt for ideas to incorporate them into recipes as well to showcase their unique taste in something more elaborate than a snack bowl. This recipe has been hiding in my draft folder for several months now, long since the last time blue grapes were in season, but now that I've gone through several baskets of this year's crop it was time to put it together in this savory and just slightly sweet Tuscan focaccia bread with rosemary, toasted pine nuts and olive oil — or what everyone else in Italy calls focaccia but is called schiacciata or "flattened down" in Tuscany.

This traditional bread is made during the wine grape harvest in Tuscany, and I suspect that it's made not so much in celebration of the harvest as for a snack to keep the vineyard workers going during the day. For us non-vineyard people, it's a wonderful light fresh leavened bread speckled with beautiful circles of purple and a surprisingly tasty combination of the grapes and fresh rosemary. My husband and I were delighted both with the taste and the soft texture of the bread interspersed with little crunchy toasted pine nuts. We ate this for dessert, for a late-night snack, and for breakfast the next day!

Grape and Rosemary Focaccia

If you can't find Coronation grapes, do feel free to substitute any fairly tart and not-too-sweet red or black table grape.

Tuscan Grape and Rosemary Focaccia (Schiacciata a l'Uva)Tuscan Grape and Rosemary Focaccia (Schiacciata a l'Uva)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Italian
Published on October 4, 2013

Fresh soft foccacia bread with sweet tangy blue grapes, fresh rosemary and toasted pine nuts — a North American version of a traditional Tuscan harvest bread

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  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 branch of fresh rosemary (2 tablespoons)
  • 3/4 cup warm spring water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 2 generous cups blue grapes
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • olive oil for brushing
  • Combine the olive oil and rosemary in a saucepan and gently heat over medium-low heat. As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat and strain the oil. Reserve the rosemary and let the oil cool to room temperature.

  • When the oil is cool, combine the water, honey and yeast in a large mixing bowl until the yeast is dissolved. Let the mixture stand until bubbly — about 10 minutes. Add the olive oil, flour, semolina and salt.

  • Mix the dough, pulling and folding with your hands, for about 10 minutes or until you have a smooth soft dough. Add more water if necessary. Now spread the dough out and scatter about 1/2 of the grapes on top. Gently fold a few more times to incorporate the grapes. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

  • Meanwhile, toss the pine nuts in a dry small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown. Set aside.

  • Preheat an oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or brush with olive oil. Spread the dough over the baking sheet with your hands to fill a rectangular area about 12 inches by 15 inches, or about 1/2-inch thick. Alternately, brush a 9 × 13 glass baking pan with oil and spread the dough in the pan.

  • Gently press the remaining grapes and pine nuts throughout the dough. Scatter the rosemary and sprinkle the sugar if using over top. Brush the top of the bread with olive oil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and the grapes are oozing juice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
More blue grape recipes you will enjoy:
Concord Grape Pie
Blue Grape Pancakes
Baked Blue Grape Pancakes

On the top of the reading stack: The Soupmaker's Kitchen: How to Save Your Scraps, Prepare a Stock, and Craft the Perfect Pot of Soup by Aliza Green

Audio Accompaniment: space ambient

1 comment:

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

I've made focaccia before, but never with grapes. It does look rather wonderful. I want to reach in and grab a piece :)