What to do with Leftover Vegetables? Focaccia Gardening
Have you ever opened the produce drawer in the fridge and found it had become a retirement home for aging vegetables—wrinkled tomatoes and peppers, onions curling and separating, rubbery carrots, a potato with growth, and wilted dill?
Thanks to Teri Culletto, a home baker in Vineyard Haven, Mass., these senior vegetables can have a second-go-round before the inevitable. Using flat bread as a canvas, she embeds focaccia dough with beautiful designs made out of vegetables and herbs into blossoming edible gardens.
Ms. Culletto posted her first focaccia garden on Instagram in February 2019. Soon after, other bakers from around the world were creating their own versions and sharing tips. Some bakers made scenes with birds and even fish. As pandemic activities on social media go, this one might just be the prettiest.
A couple of tips for your focaccia garden
Raw vegetables have different water contents, so it’s better to use thicker pieces and slices. Thinner ones could burn. Also dipping fresh herbs such as dill or parsley in lemon water helps keep them greener in a hot oven.
Ready to make your garden grow?
Start with an easy focaccia bread recipe (you can find many online). Prepare the dough the night before allowing it to rise. This takes about 2-3 hours.
Day 1—Prepare a sheet pan with a thin layer of olive oil. Be sure to coats the entire surface.
After your dough has doubled in size, stretch it onto the pan.
Cover your sheet pan in plastic wrap to keep the dough from drying out and then place it into the fridge overnight.
Overnight in the fridge gives it flavor and a lovely chewy interior with a thin and crispy crust.
Day 2–Take your focaccia dough out of the fridge and let it sit for about 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
Use this time while the focaccia is warming up to prepare your toppings.
Make dimples in the top of your focaccia (as instructed in recipes), add olive oil and flakey salt. Now it’s time to decorate and make beautiful edible art, the only limits, your imagination!
After topping your focaccia, coat all the herbs with a layer of olive oil to prevent them from burning while you bake.
Suggested toppings for focaccia bread art
These are some ingredients that can be used to decorate your focaccia bread art. Be as creative as you can!
- Red onions – for flowers
- Green, yellow, and red bell Peppers – sliced vertically (so they stay round) to look like small flowers or sliced horizontally (in strips) to make big sunflowers
- Chives and green onions – for flower stems and seaweed
- Parsley – for leaves
- Basil – also good for leaves or seaweed
- Tomatoes – use a sharp knife to create roses
- Cherry tomatoes – sliced in half length-wise and dried makes nice flower centers or seed pods
- Olives – for rocks or centers of flowers
- Rosemary, thyme, and dill – Small plants
- Pepperoni – can be shaped into fish or birds
- Sausage – for flower centers or seed pods
- Shredded parmesan – sand or dirt
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