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 website...it'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!