Seriously I don’t know what came over me today but I had a craving for a vegetarian sandwich on a fresh baked focaccia roll. It may have been the first sighting of fava beans in the market that got me started with this sandwich idea using one of my favorite chunky vegetable spreads. Back in the kitchen while my focaccia dough was rising I began the process of preparing fava beans for a smashed spread for the rolls. It’s probably better to wait until mid-season for larger fava beans to make this slightly chunky spread, but even though it’s more time consuming to shell the smaller beans, the spread is very good made with the tender early Spring fava beans. Focaccia dough can easily be divided and formed into dinner rolls which also make delicious sandwich rolls. A few spears of blanched asparagus and strips of roasted yellow peppers cut into generous pieces layered on top of the fava bean spread make fresh early Spring vegetable sandwiches that hit the spot every time.
I’m sharing two recipes so I’ll start with the one for the focaccia rolls since you’ll want to get those started first if you decide to make the vegetable sandwiches. I used fresh rosemary from my garden and a sprinkle of sea salt on top of the rolls but they are good served plain. I also used blanched asparagus spears and roasted yellow peppers on top of the fava bean spread but feel free to use whatever vegetables you like in your sandwich.
Ingredients and Directions for Focaccia Rolls
Makes 12 rolls
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons to brush on tops of rolls
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
4 cups bread flour, plus extra if needed
Sea salt and fresh chopped rosemary for sprinkling on top of rolls
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment sprinkle the yeast and a generous pinch of sugar over 1/2 cup of the warm water. Wait 10 minutes while the mixture becomes foamy. Add the remaining warm water, sugar, olive oil, sea salt and 1 cup of the bread flour. Beat on medium speed for a few minutes until smooth. Switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough becomes soft and starts to climb up the dough hook. Knead on low speed adding more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, if dough is too sticky. The dough should be slightly sticky, soft and moist, after about 5-6 minutes of kneading. Cover and let rest in the bowl about 20 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the rolls. Place the rolls evenly spaced on the 2 baking sheets, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the rolls with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and chopped rosemary. Bake for about 16-18 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on rack before cutting in half to make sandwiches. Spread with the fava bean mixture (recipe below) and layer in a few of your favorite veggies, enjoy!