Focaccia gardens are a beautiful way to use leftover veggies

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It’s week eight of quarantine, and you’ve already mastered banana bread and sourdough. Ready to level up? Behold, gardenscaping baking. Focaccia gardens—aka embedding your focaccia dough with beautiful designs made out of vegetables and herbs— is the latest food trend that’s about to take full bloom.

The Instagram-friendly baked good—which the New York Times says was likely started by home baker Teri Culletto—uses homemade focaccia bread as a blank canvas for beautiful vegetable art. I makes seriously stunning use of whatever leftover veggies are hanging out in your crisper. Bell peppers of all colors, cherry tomatoes, black olives, onions, asparagus…literally any veggies can be used to create a masterpiece.

This is peak cooking as therapy, my friends. It’s literally making art with food. And while it may not actually smell like flowers, basil, rosemary, and thyme make a great smelling bouquet on their own. And of course they all come with nutrition benefits, too. Want the herbs in your focaccia garden to have anti-inflammatory superpowers? Rosemary, fenugreek, and turmeric are good ones to go for. It also tastes delicious dipped in olive oil, aka the MVP of the Mediterranean diet.

Ready to make that garden grow? The first step is baking the focaccia bread. Gimme Some Oven healthy food blogger Ali Martin likes making hers with just a handful of ingredients: water, flour, olive oil, sea salt, rosemary, and just a touch of honey. (You can get the recipe here.) Just stop before popping your dough in the oven because now it’s time to decorate.

“Decorate the dough with fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and parsley, then add vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, broccoli and any other veggies and herbs you have on hand,” instructed Nettie Moore of MooreOrLessCooking in a recent Instagram post. “Arrange your ingredients in the shape of flowers and other blooms and bake.” The wet dough will help keep your creations in place better than placing them after the bread is dry.

Sugar Geek Show blogger Elizabeth Marek wrote on her site that her focaccia garden was a fun project for her and her daughter to do together. “At the time, the world was in quarantine so our days are filled with lots of fun projects to keep ourselves and the kids busy. This was the perfect fun project for my 5-year-old and I to do together,” she wrote. Some pro tips from Marek: If you’re using bell peppers, slice them vertically so they stay round; they’ll end up looking like little flowers. She also said parsley and basil both work great for making leaves, green onions work for flower stems, and red onions also make lovely flowers, when sliced thinly.

 

As you can tell by the photos here, there’s no shortage of ways to get creative. Using asparagus as trees, olives as little bugs, yellow bell pepper as a sun…one creative baker even uses shredded Parmesan cheese to recreate her labradoodle in her focaccia garden.

Once everything in place, stick your decorated dough in the oven for 20 minutes, at 400°F. Once it starts turning golden brown, it’s ready to eat. You know, *after* you Instagram it.

Make something you’re proud of? Share it in Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group.

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