Hi there. This is Sarah, Eric’s wife. As a guest contributor here, I wanted to share a special recipe for Mother’s Day: Sandy’s Focaccia Sandwiches. Sandy was my Mom, and she passed away 21 years ago when I was finishing high school. I miss a lot of things about her, and these sandwiches are something that people still talk about to this day.

My mom was the kind of person that liked to love people through food. She was always eager to feed others, and loved having us kids around. These sandwiches were something that got requested a lot by my friends, and after my mom passed away, I would try to find the recipe so that I could continue the connection with her. I have many of my mom’s recipes, and make them for my family and friends, but this one I could never find. I have spent hours over the decades looking through her recipe binders, recipe cards, and searching the databases of the magazines she liked so much when I was young: Cooking Light, Martha Stewart, and Food and Wine. I googled and googled, but couldn’t find the recipe. Living with a guy who is not shy to experiment in the kitchen, and time on my hands with a pandemic, I decided I would try my best to recreate the famous sandwich. I also just miss my mom like crazy, so tasting these flavors again was something I knew I would make not just my stomach, but also my heart, full.

When my mom would make these sandwiches, she would use store bought focaccia bread, and you can too if you want. But making your own focaccia bread is pretty easy as long as you plan in advance, so give it a whirl. My husband loves fresh focaccia bread, and like my mom, I like to love through food. You can also use this focaccia bread recipe by itself and play around with the toppings, such as basil, oregano, sliced olives, or garlic. One thing I have definitely learned from my husband is that it is ok to experiment in the kitchen, and often times the results are delicious.

Focaccia Bread

  • 8" cake pan
  • 2 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil (extra virgin )
  • 1 tbsp. Rosemary (chopped)
  • 1 pinch Sea Salt (Flaky salt to season the top of the bread)
  • 1 1/4 tsp Yeast (Active Dry)
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, teaspoon of salt, and yeast. Add the warm water and stir to get a sticky dough.

  2. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24hours for best results.

  3. After the dough has chilled out, form it into a ball with your hands. Drizzle approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the cake pan and rub it around to cover all the interior surfaces to coat.

  4. Place the dough ball in the center of the pan and cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature, until the dough has risen and expanded to the edges of the pan.

  5. Towards the end of the rise time, preheat your oven to 450°f.

  6. Once the dough is ready, remove the plastic wrap, and drizzle the rest of the olive oil on top of the dough. Smoosh your fingers down into the dough all over, to give it the bread cute little dimples for that traditional focaccia look. Sprinkle the rosemary and a pinch or so of flakey sea salt on top.

  7. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the bread has developed a beautiful golden-brown color.

Let the dough rest for at least 8hrs, but you will have better results by letting the dough rest overnight to allow the yeast to develop a nice airy light focaccia.  

dinner, Lunch
American, Italian
Focaccia Bread

To build the Focaccia Sandwich follow the recipe below:

Sandy’s Legendary Focaccia Sandwich

  • Cast Iron Skillet
  • 1 loaf Focaccia Bread (Rosemary Focaccia)
  • 8 oz. Fresh Mozzarella Cheese (sliced 1/4" rounds)
  • 1 cup Spinach (fresh)
  • 2 bulbs Shallots (peeled and sliced thin)
  • 6 cloves Garlic (minced (always follow your heart for how much garlic to use))
  • 1/4 cup + 2tbsp Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 tsp. Basil (dried)
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  1. Oven should be pre-heated to 450° f.

  2. Place the mozzarella cheese in a bowl with the olive oil, basil, and pepper and allow it to marinate for about an hour.

  3. If following the steps to make your own focaccia, when the bread is near the end of the baking time, heat the remaining olive oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium high heat (if using store bought focaccia add chopped rosemary on top before baking.

  4. Sauté the shallots and minced garlic in the pan until soft and slightly caramelized.

  5. Slice the focaccia bread in half horizontally (like a hamburger bun), then take the bowl with the marinated mozzarella and hold the cheese in place to strain the half the oil from the bowl over the inside of the sliced bread loaf.

  6. Layer the cheese, then onion mixture, then tomatoes, then spinach onto the bottom half of the bread, then cover with the top half.

  7. Drizzle the remaining marinating oil into the cast iron skillet, place the sandwich in the skillet, and stick the whole pan back into the oven for approximately 10minutes to melt the cheese.

  8. Slice into 4 sections and enjoy!

I hope you share this sandwich with people you love, and for those of you who knew my mom and this sandwich, I hope it brings back fond memories of my mom.

dinner, Lunch
American, Italian
Focaccia Bread, Sandwich