Thursday, February 21, 2013

Whole Wheat Focaccia with's a Hearts and Flours Improv!

It's time for another monthly Improv and this month--in honor of Valentine's day--our theme is "Hearts and Flours"! For those not in the know, the monthly Improv, hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker, is a friendly little competition where we create dishes based on two seasonal ingredients. Truth be told, I took this month's theme a little out of the box. Instead of creating a heart shaped food, I used "hearts" in my food--and made it heart healthy to boot!

Yum...I love artichoke hearts! Unfortunately, I've only ever had them in fatty appetizers or drenched in oil. These are packed in water.

If you haven't deduced from my last post, Healthier Mixed Berry Muffins, I'm trying to drop a lot a little weight and eat a little healthier. That is not to say that I won't continue posting some decadent stuff (I promise--those Orange-White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cinnamon Rolls will be up next), but I've found that a little moderation is in order. Luckily for me, my husband is on the same wavelength so it's easy for me to try out some new things.

One of the things that we discovered is that it's a lot easier for us to make better eating choices when we're at home. That said, it's hard to make dinner for the two of us after working all day. So, believe it or not, this focaccia bread recipe came about because I was tired and in a rush (thank goodness for my KitchenAid mixer!)

Whole Wheat Artichoke Focaccia

1 cup warm water (like bathwater warm)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fast rising yeast
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or black pepper)
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and sliced
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Combine the water, sugar, oil and yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to foam.

In the mean time, whisk together the white whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups of the all purpose flour, salt, and seasoning. Add it to the yeast mixture.

Using the dough hook on the stand mixer, knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, if needed. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turning it once. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it in a warm, draft-free area to rise for 30-45 minutes.

Whole wheat flour can make the dough a little dry. Initially, I dumped all of the flour into the mix at once...I had to add a little more water. Luckily, the dough is pretty forgiving and it all turned out fine.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F; spray a 15" X 10" pan with cooking spray.

Gently deflate the dough and press it into the prepared pan. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic powder and the pepper. Evenly top the dough with the sliced artichoke hearts, drained tomatoes, onions,and spinach. Sprinkle the cheese and the Italian seasoning over the top.

I was going to bake this on a pizza stone, but discovered it had broken in half (!). Luckily, using the jelly roll pan made this even easier.

I loved this combination of toppings, but you can get creative here...add some olives, fresh herbs...whatever floats your boat. :)

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Cut into squares--this will make 6 servings at about 300 calories per serving.

I really loved how this turned out! If you aren't familiar with white whole wheat flour, you can read about it on the Whole Grains Council's a great way to add whole grains if you aren't fond of regular whole wheat flour. Feel free to substitute your favorite spices. I used a little cayenne pepper to give it a slight kick, but regular pepper works fine. I'll bet some fresh basil (I didn't have any) would make a nice addition, too.

Don't forget to check out what everyone else is making!


  1. I absolutely love LOVE artichokes on my pizza! Thanks for sharing :)

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  2. If I had been thinking straight, I would have included hearts of any kind in the challenge. I was too side-tracked by Valentine's to think real hearts of any kind. I love, love, love this pizza. it looks so good and good for you, too!!

  3. Great minds think alike with the artichoke hearts! Your focaccia looks so good. Love the topping!

  4. Love your focaccia! Love that you played with the "heart" idea and used artichoke heart. Very creative and a great idea for the Improv Challenge! I also love all of the healthy ingredients, this is a perfect lunch or dinner item. Hope you have time to stop by and check out my heart-shaped gingerbread cookies.

  5. I love flavoring my focaccia dough -- but I'm usually not too creative on the toppings: onions, olives, cheese, rosemary... Yours is beautiful & I'd love to have some of that artichoke/spinach/red onion mixture right now!

  6. I love focaccia! Great choice for a savory dish.

  7. This focaccia sounds fantastic! Love that you decided to think outside the (heart-shaped) box! Definitely bookmarking this lovely recipe and making it very soon. It looks droowl worthy!

  8. This looks so fresh and delicious!

  9. Looks yummy Cathy!! On my must try list!! ( :

  10. Love focaccia, love artichokes, love this! Great idea to use artichoke hearts for the challenge

  11. This sounds incredible, and I love your use of the hearts and flour theme! So clever!

  12. Cathy,
    Your focaccia looks great! My spouse asked me to start adding focaccia to the Friday Night Pizza Night line up, so last week I made my first focaccia out of some arugula pesto I'd put up last year. It worked out so well that tonight I'm making a focaccia out of roasted garlic (I'm just working my way around my freezer stash of garden surplus LOL). I tried mine in my cast iron skillet and I liked how it turned out, but if I am making focaccia for a crowd I will certainly use my jelly roll pan. That's a great idea. My pizza stone cracked while we lived in Virginia. I just pushed the edges together and it still works, so I haven't splurged for a new one yet. Some day.

    It's interesting--I always dump all the flour in to the bowl at the same time (I've been weighing lately, love that) and usually it eventually comes together. I only use my paddle, though, not the dough hook. Maybe that's the difference?

    I think it was quite inspired to grab artichoke hearts for a hearts and flours theme--great job!

    1. Thanks! :) I'll have to try the paddle only. Sometimes I start with the paddle and use the dough hook after I've added more flour. The cast iron skillet idea sounds great!

  13. Another clever blogger using artichokes for the hearts! Your focaccia looks amazing! I don't think there's a savory dish that wouldn't benefit from artichoke hearts :)

  14. I'd like to try your pizza dough but I only have active dry yeast. Is there a way to tweak this? Thanks in advance!

    1. Active dry yeast should work just fine. :) Just let it rise in a warm, draft free may take a few minutes longer.

  15. What a delicious use of pizza dough my friend :D


  16. I love your heart choice! This looks delicious .