All photos: Laura Hobbs, Fayetteville Flyer
There’s nothing I love more at a restaurant than a good breadbasket: hard breadsticks, soft rolls, artisanal, crunchy bread, whatever. I love the little element of surprise, I love the little snack before dinner, I love the ritual of spreading soft butter over the top, or dunking a torn-off piece into olive oil. The quality of the bread basket is a sure sign of things to come – yummy bread, yummy dinner; bummer bread, bummer dinner.
It’s hard to pinpoint my absolute favorite breadbasket addition – and I’ve seen a lot of breadbaskets in my day – but my mind keeps going back to those yummy, pillowy squares of focaccia in Bordino’s breadbaskets of yore. (Please tell me they still make focaccia.) There’s a plethora of amazing bakeries in Boulder that I’m sure could make an amazing counterfeit of Bordino’s focaccia – and probably do – but I’m a sucker for the real deal. Too bad the real deal is now 828 miles and 13 hours and 4 minutes away (thanks, Google Maps.)
So what did I do? Well, you know me! I made the dang thing myself, but I amped it up a bit. I can hear you now: “She put her own spin on an otherwise well-known food? Shocking. Looks yummy. Now, what’s going on over at People.com?” Stick with me here, folks.
Recently, some friends hosted a Saturday night game night and asked me to bring “an appetizer”. Now, some could read that to mean, “bring a bag of chips and a jar of salsa”, but I read that to mean, “obsess over a homemade loaf of flatbread, and be sure to agonize over the zucchini-to-onion-distribution ratio.” Oy.
I took a ball of readymade dough from Whole Foods (a/k/a, my secret-now-not-so-secret lover) and let it rise a while in the Colorado sun. I rolled it out and put it in a baking dish sprinkled with corn meal, poked a million holes in it with a fork and doused it with a good amount of olive oil. A little cheese went on, followed by my obsessive/compulsive placement of the zucchini and caramelized onions, followed by a little more cheese and some seasonings. Twenty minutes later I was singing praises to the yeast and gluten gods, in awe of what emerged from my oven.
Needless to say, our game night friends were pleasantly surprised. Oh, and I TOTALLY dominated Pop Culture Trivial Pursuit. Can I get a WHAT WHAAAT? Enjoy!
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2 Tbs. butter
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 lb. bread dough (thawed if frozen), risen
1/4 c. olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
2 small zucchini, sliced very thinly
1/2 c. grated parmesan
1/2 c. grated white cheddar
1 tsp. Italian seasoning, divided
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
Flour for dusting
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. When melted, add the onion and reduce the heat to low, and season with salt and pepper. Cook the onion over low heat until extremely soft and beginning to brown, stirring regularly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to the touch.
Preheat the oven to 450°. On a large, flat surface dusted with flour, spread the dough out using your fingertips until it’s roughly a 9″x13″ rectangle. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a 9″x13″ baking dish and spread it around, then place the dough in the dish. Prick the dough in rows every inch, until the dough is completely covered in fork pricks. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the dough and spread it around with your fingers.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the parmesan and white cheddar. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the dough. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of the Italian seasoning over the cheese. Arrange the zucchini slices and caramelized onions over the cheese and spices. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese, Italian seasoning and red chili flakes over the vegetables. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over top. Place in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. Remove from the pan onto a cutting board, and cut into pieces. Serve warm.
* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville, but has recently moved to Boulder, Colorado. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more from Laura, check out her food blog, Prana & Pie.