Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia

Welcome to all my regular IPOM readers and those joining us specially for the Virtual Vegan Potluck today! I hope you enjoy this stop on the journey through – there are some great contributions out there today so I hope you’ve got your printer ready…here goes! There is an old saying that wheat is the staff of life. Have you heard this before?

I grew up enjoying home-baked bread, and neighbourly potlucks featuring homemade pizzas with whole wheat dough. Many comforting childhood memories come from pieces of warm fresh bread, and nothing satisfies the soul quite like it to this day, (maybe it’s the Virgo in me, that’s what my mom always told me).I am so excited to present this wonderful recipe shared with me by my chef brother that can double as both pizza dough, and a ridiculously good focaccia. Along with good bread, pizza is also a super staple in our house for successful vegetarian entertaining. It’s always great, no matter what you put on it. So after years of outsourcing dough (to those wonderful delis who do it so expertly), I am so proud to say that yeast and I are now officially good buddies (it hasn’t always been that way). So with that, let’s get started on this most amazing recipe that is sure to become an instant party or potluck favourite!

Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia (makes two focaccias or four pizza doughs):

The Dough:

  • (2 tsp) active dry yeast
  • (2 cups) warm water – about the temperature of a child’s bath
  • (3 tsp) sugar
  • (3) tsp salt
  • (4) cups flour all-purpose
  • (4 tbsp) olive oil

The Toppings:

  • (1) medium yellow onion or(1/2) a large sweet onion, sliced lengthwise thinly
  • (1 tsp) salt
  • (1 tsp) sugar
  • (1 cup) of large black olives (Giant or Kalamata) – about 10 – 12
  • (2-3) sprigs fresh rosemary
  • plenty of olive oil (1/4-1/2 cup)

Ready to make bread? Yeah you are! To get started, gather up all of your ingredients for the dough and commandeer a large mixing bowl. In the bowl, add 2 cups of warm water (not too hot, not too cold) to the bowl. Add the sugar and stir. Next, add the yeast, but do not stir. Let sit for 5 minutes or so.

After a few minutes, add half the flour and the salt to the mixture in the bowl (about 2 cups) and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is nice and smooth. Next add the olive oil and mix until the mixture is a bit pasty. From here, you can go ahead and dump the rest of the flour into the bowl and mix – start with a wooden spoon and then switch to the hands – it’s so much fun! My brother says to mix this until it ‘pulls from the bowl’. This seems to work well, and I mix this way until it seems ready to come out and be kneaded on the counter.

Once the dough is ‘pulling from the bowl’, remove it and set on the counter to prepare for kneading. To knead, dust the counter with a sprinkling of flour and knead…this to inject the dough with air – and truthfully I have never enjoyed this process, or really applied myself to it either – but I am actually learning to love this part!

Just set the CD player to your favourite new dance CD and watch the time fly by. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until you have a lovely round ball of dough. Set your dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl (feel free to wash and oil the same bowl you mixed in). Cover with a clean tea towel and set in a warm place to rise. Hint: I turn the oven on and set on to heat up top of, or right beside the stove. It seems no matter how nicely you talk to the yeast, it will not rise unless it is in a warm place (go figure!)

Let the dough rise for about 1 – 1.5 hours, until you have a nice little rise happening (you will know!). Now for the best part. Remove the tea towel and punch the dough down with your fist to release the air. Your dough will pop and fall in a beautiful fashion, and it is now ready to settle in for a bit while you prep the rest of your ingredients.

Remove the dough from the bowl and re-shape on the counter or cutting board. Cut the dough in half. Ideally, let sit for 30 minutes before using. Any leftover dough not being used immediately can be frozen or refrigerated for future use, and I find it super handy to have some dough to bake off during the week for unexpected guests, or just for kids 🙂

The Onions, Olives, and Rosemary:

While you wait for the dough to rise, you can prepare the magical part of this recipe – the tasty toppings.

Slice your onion in long thin strips and heat a large skillet to medium-high. Add a nice splash of olive oil to the skillet and add the onion, salt, and sugar. On medium to medium high heat, cook the onion for 25 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking. By slow cooking the onions in the sugar and salt, they will get brown, sticky, and heavenly. Just be sure to stir often. Once ready, remove from heat and let cool. Pit and half the olives and set aside. Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and chop with a knife finely.

When ready to assemble the focaccia for baking, start by heating the oven to 400 degrees. Oil generously a large flat rectangular baking tray (or two if you are cooking them both off). Oil your hands a little and stretch the room temperature dough to fit the length of your tray – this should be easy and the dough should keep it’s shape when pulled. If you need some help, you can keep a little bowl of flour to the side and use a little help this process.

Once you have your shape, add the olives, then the onions, and finally the rosemary. Finish this off with a generous pour of olive oil across the entire surface of the bread (don’t be shy!). Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until the sides are golden and the smell is heaven in the kitchen. Let cool and slice as desired! Keep this stored at room temperature wrapped in foil, it’s great warmed up a bit in the oven the day after 🙂

This bread is stunning on its own, or served with a light dip, or alongside a salad, or really, anything! It’s so tasty. Honestly, it’s got all my favourite things. And the best part is I can now make it myself (and so can you!).

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ShiraCaramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia

141 Comments on “Caramelized Onion, Rosemary & Olive Focaccia”

  1. Jasline

    This foccaccia looks really good! I’m still trying to get on good terms with Yeast… hope I’ll be able to try this recipe one day! Love the caramelized onions!

  2. frugalfeeding

    Such absolutely beautiful bread, Shira. I’ve still not done a foccaccia recipe, in fact, I’ve never even made it. I must. Caramelised onions are simply to die for… particularly in bread.

    1. Shira

      Thank you Frugal! After so many years in the kitchen it is beyond thrilling to be able to make this from scratch – it only took 15 years! To give credit where it is due, I found inspiration from your onion bread recipe as anything is to die for with caramelized onions, and I needed to wow the taste buds for this without any cheese (I would normally add parmesan)! Thanks my friend!! 🙂

  3. Lou

    You had me at caramalised onions… but add olives and the fact that it an amazing bread OR pizza base, and I salute you!

  4. Gabby @ the veggie nook

    You are so right feeling as though you can take on the world when you accomplish something in cooking- the first time I successfully made a gluten-free baked good, I thought I could conquer anything! And it’s so nice to be able to do it yourself and not feel you need to outsource 🙂

    This recipe looks lovely, what a wonderful contribution! I am not a seasoned bread maker myself but one day I will get there! You’ve inspired me to try soon 🙂

    Enjoy your weekend and the rest of the potluck!

    1. Shira

      Thanks Gabby! Learning a new culinary skill is crazy empowering – especially when it saves a little $$! Looking forward to the rest of the goods and your dessert! Enjoy your weekend too my fine friend! xox 🙂

  5. sustainabilitea

    I recently made a gluten-free foccaccia four our supper club (one of the women is gluten-intolerant) and everyone like it so much that they all asked for the recipe. 🙂 This sounds delicious.

    1. Shira

      Ooops! Don’t know how I missed this great comment (blurgh)! I would love to try a gluten free focaccia…I am sure it was divine! 🙂 Do you have the recipe posted? 🙂

  6. Brittany

    We must..MUST be best friends immediately. This bread…speaks to my soul. This looks sooo delicious. You are a culinary goddess my friend, I would eat the entire foccaccia!

    1. Shira

      Done! We are officially friends 🙂 It’s so hard not to eat it all…agreed! Every once in a while you’ve just got to enjoy life, and this will certainly help with that! Thanks Britt!!

  7. An Unrefined Vegan

    Oh my girl…you’ve made my heart and tummy so very, very happy. Your focaccia is a thing of beauty. Too good to eat? I think not, though it’s a close call. Thank you for this lovely recipe and post!!

    1. Shira

      Oh thank you Annie! Such a special event calls for an equally special recipe! It looks amazing, but it tastes even better, so we’d better dig in!! xox! 🙂 Thanks for all of your hard work!

  8. tomorrowswisdom

    I haven’t done much in terms of bread, but I would love to. I am going to bookmark this one too because it looks incredible. And share it with my sister-in-law, who is vegan.

    1. Shira

      Perfect! It takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it, it is spectacularly simple! Best of luck and thank you! 🙂

    1. Shira

      Thanks Kristy!! I say we dig in (now that we’ve got photos of it – hehe!)…and we need a little of *someone’s* super gorgeous potato salad to go alongside!!! xo! 🙂

  9. everydayvegangirl

    This looks so good! I am pinning it right now so I can try it later. I love how you didn’t use any vegan cheese, as most people would…I think this will be great the way it is!

    1. Shira

      Thanks! Normally I would load it with real parmesan (we are not strictly vegan) – but these toppings render that totally unnecessary! I hope you get to make it, thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. Somer

    Oh Shira! It’s nearly lunch time and you have me seriously salivating! So mean that I can’t reach into the computer to eat it!!! 😉 xoxo

    1. Shira

      Those close-ups are kind of mean, aren’t they?! I know – I’ve just gone through the offerings and now I need to eat! Thanks Somer! xo 🙂

      1. Somer

        I’m still going through it and I’m about to take a break and have plain old pb&j so I don’t start gnawing on my hand. It’s crazy how just looking at all these crazy delicious food photos can make you so hungry!

        1. Shira

          Agreed! I’ve had a couple of coffees and am off for a smoothie I think…got some super ripe mangoes just calling to me! xox! Happy Mother’s Day to you!!

  11. thekalechronicles

    I love making yeast breads. As you know, I just posted recipes for thin-crust pizza. Everyone’s methods and recipes are a little different: there are many ways to achieve similar results.

    1. Shira

      So true Sharyn – there are so many ways to skin a cat! I am really looking forward to trying yours too, now that I am armed with (just a little) new found confidence! 🙂

  12. Carole

    I could live on bread! The sweetness of caramalizes onions with the ‘hearty’ rest of the topping mmmmmm… I also like only olive oil thyme and fleur de sel. As simple as it gets!

    1. Shira

      Totally love the fleur de sel and thyme & olive oil – simple and so delicious! Thanks for your suggestion – I could live on bread too! xo!

    1. Shira

      Thanks – I am the same as you and have to practice my super powers of restraint here – it’s a good thing the family helps me eat it 😉 Thanks for stopping by! xo!

  13. Cara

    So your whole family are a bunch of talented cooks, eh? Very impressive! This bread is calling my name–making! I want to be friends with yeast too so will you put a good name in for me??? 🙂

    1. Shira

      Thanks Cara – I guess we just always liked food, and our parents did too…I guess it rubbed off! (Either that or we just had nothing else to do!)
      About the yeast..I am certainly in for putting in a good word, and as we are just starting our new friendship (me and yeast), there are only a few I’d be willing to do that for just yet 😉 You (of course!) most certainly are in, and I would be beyond thrilled to see a gluten free focaccia of some sort in all of our futures?! If anyone can do it……it would have to be the creative genius that is YOU! 🙂

    1. Shira

      Thanks Vanessa! What a most kind and *evening making* comment! I am so glad you enjoyed it – and welcome!! I’ll be checking you out too, as you’ve got me already with your name….anything with vegetables as a focus and I am in! xox

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  15. vegancharlie

    Oh YUM!! I love foccaccia bread! I could seriously just eat carmelized onions on just about anything if my breath wouldnt be horrendous afterwards lol. I love the look ans sound of this bread. amazing pictures, amazing post

    1. Shira

      Ha, for sure Charlie! Thanks so much! Just be sure to bring this bread to a gathering – once everyone has onion breath you are off to the races! (Hehe) Thanks for stopping in – I hope you enjoyed the potluck! 🙂

  16. emmycooks

    This is so gorgeous! And delicious, I know. I think my favorite focaccia topping is going to be this one–although I do also like roasted red grapes with rosemary for a sweet/savory combination. Also, you taught me something new today. I make bread fairly often but every single time I wonder whether the water I’m putting the yeast into is hot enough? Too hot? I will never wonder again! I’m completely confident about the temperature a child’s bath should be. 🙂

    1. Shira

      Hi Emmy – I love the grapes with rosemary as well! So happy to help with the temp thing! I’ll pass it on to my little bro who hooked me up with that tip…he’s a genius! Hope you had a fabulous day! 🙂

  17. Becca's Kitchen

    This looks great, Shira! I agree – home baked bread just has that…something, you know? And I love the flavor caramelized onions add! This might be good with a few sliced of cooked butternut squash as a topping. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Shira

      No more secrets for Schulz! But we are all better for it now – I love that one too!! Thanks Marina – and thanks for the Mother’s Day wishes! Its all set to be a beautiful day here! xo! 🙂

  18. veganbloggersunite

    Love the post, the pictures, the recipe, the quotes! Very cool blog you have here. I’d love to host one of your posts as a guest blogger for VBU. Please let me know if you’d like this. Thanks! Lidia

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  20. Richgail Enriquez

    Wow this is amazing, everything made from scratch. I’m such a sucker for all of the ingredients in this recipe. Happy potluck!

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  22. lightlycrunchy

    I love focaccia! Though ive always been lazy enough to let my mother make it for me. I should make it myself -and starting with one that has caramelized onions would be perfect. The virtual potluck is a great idea – I’vegreen enjoying reading through so far.

    1. Shira

      Glad you’ve enjoyed! Honestly I admire you for *letting* someone else make it! I might like that too….. 🙂 hope you had a great mothers day!

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  24. Posky

    I’ve never heard of bread being treated with such reverence. I will always love good food but feel like such an outsider on food blogs.

    …it does sound and look so good though.

  25. spree

    Delightful, delicious, de comfort to beat all comforts, this looks sooo wonderful Shira! Love making my own focaccia and adore how you’ve topped yours! Just pure yumm! as soon as our kitchens back in operation, this will be a’bakin in our oven! Tacking it on my pinterest board now so it doesn’t get lost in the dust! 🙂 thanks Shira! (beeeutiful photos too!)

    1. Shira

      Oh thank you Spree!! This will look fabulous against the backdrop of your new kitchen – I can’t wait to see it! Happy Monday and I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day! xo!

  26. Erin B

    Hey Shira, I love this flavour combo and nice work on the dough. My partner is a mad bread baker, he started his own sourdough culture recently, it’s much nicer knowing we’ve eliminated yet another source of preservatives and plastic as you say.

    1. Shira

      Oh thank you Erin! It was a long time coming for me to attempt it – so I am feeling empowered now that I can finally do it! I’ve a few good friends who are obsessed with baking bread with their own sourdough – you are so lucky! I owe you a nut loaf recipe….haven’t forgotten my friend! xo!

  27. Richa@HobbyandMore

    Jumping up and down here.. if you dont already know yet.. then you will eventually one day, that i just heart bread! I can eat some day and night. love those caramelized onions and olives.. and such a beautiful focaccia!

    1. Shira

      Oh Richa – yes – your breads! They are beautiful – so beautiful they simply must originate from skill and pure love! I adore your blog for your bread inspiration…one day soon I will get the nerve to attempt a loaf…and when I do I’ll be hitting you up for sure! xo!

    1. Shira

      Me too! It was that good…..thanks to those yummy onions!! 🙂 Hope you enjoyed the potluck Jennifer! I sure did, it was a blast!

      1. tinykitchenstories

        I certainly have! I’m almost through all the entries, have bookmarked a ton (including this focaccia…oooh, Sunday!) and can’t wait for the next one! It’s been a wonderful experience, and am so happy to be included.

      2. tinykitchenstories

        I just made this yesterday, but used shallots instead of onions. It was wonderful to have it to taste! DELICIOUS! I also used some garlic-marinated olives we had from the farmer’s market. Mmmm…thanks for the inspiration!

        1. Shira

          YUM Jennifer!! That sounds incredible!! Those olives sound divine and I love the potency of shallots – I would love to see photos of that! Thanks for letting us know – it’s 100% my pleasure! 😉 xo!

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    1. Shira

      Thanks!! I think it might just be a nerdy obsession with food – it’s a bit of an obsession 🙂 !! So happy you stopped in!

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  35. Justine

    Hello! We actually did the recipe last night and it was fantastic! To all the people that are just saying it looks great, try it out! It’s excellent! The flavour combinations are great, I have always used caramelized onions in everything, and just love them! Kalamata olives and rosemary are excellent too, although I would add more fresh rosemary to the recipe, that was my only comment. I used to be a chef, so I do tend to be more critical…and I am giving this a 5 star rating! Thanks for the recipe, will be making again soon! Oh and love that it’s fully vegan with no funky ‘fake cheese’ kind of ingredients! 🙂 Thanks again!

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