This simple and rustic sheet pan focaccia has two topping options: jalapeños & (vegan) cheese or tomatoes, herbs & garlic.
Flatbreads like focaccia are great for beginners! They use simple ingredients and tools, they don't require much active cooking time, they’re highly customizable, and it's easy to tell when they're cooked through.
Spread your choice of toppings (minus olive oil and sea salt) over the surface of the dough. Then, work the toppings into the dough by dimpling it quickly and thoroughly using all your fingers (like you’re a very passionate but absolutely awful pianist). Top the surface with a generous drizzle olive oil and a dusting of sea salt before baking it until it’s golden-brown.
Jalapeño & Cheese
Pickled jalapeños, vegan cheese, cashew Parmesan (optional), garlic, sea salt, and olive oil.
I use “tamed” pickled jalapeños. They're flavourful but mild so you can use a lot of them without their heat becoming overwhelming. If you use hot pickled jalapeños (and you’re sensitive to spicy food) you can chop them up and use less of them.
Use your favourite vegan cheese shreds. I like Daiya’s Cheddar Style Shreds (the Original kind) because they melt quickly and they're widely available.
Tomato, Herb & Garlic
Cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced garlic, fresh or dried herbs, sea salt, and olive oil.
You can use fresh or dried herbs, depending on what you have. I used a dry Italian herb blend of rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, marjoram, and thyme. Bruise hardy herbs like rosemary to release their flavourful oils before adding them.
Other topping ideas and variations
We also have a lovely potato & rosemary focaccia recipe on the blog. It’s a tidier looking version made in an 8” cast iron skillet.
You can make focaccia as simple or elaborate as you like. Other topping ideas are: olives, marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, shallots, sliced potato, roasted garlic, vegan pesto, and caramelized onions. Feel free to be creative or try multiple flavour combinations on divided sections.
This focaccia dough is perfect for homemade pizzas, we used it in our Mediterranean pesto pizza recipe. For a thick pizza crust that's eerily similar to Pizza Hut's pan crust, liberally oil your pan/parchment paper before assembling and baking.
Cube leftover (preferably slightly stale) focaccia. Add vegan butter or olive oil to a hot skillet. If desired, add some Italian herbs, minced garlic and/or garlic and onion powder. Add the cubed focaccia and cook, stirring often, until the croutons are golden brown and crisp. Use the croutons in a salad like our vegan crispy chick’n Caesar.
You can knead focaccia by hand or in a stand-mixer. I prefer using a stand-mixer for bread because it’s much easier to keep the dough moist. When you knead by hand you use more flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands and countertop. Start by adding ¾ the amount of flour and then add more, using the minimum amount required to keep the dough workable.
Bread recipes often start with a proofing step (adding yeast and sugar to warm water and waiting for the yeast to froth and rise to the surface). It tests yeast to make sure it's active. Proof your yeast if you’re not sure how fresh it is to make sure your dough will rise. If you’re using fresh yeast you can skip this step.
Easy sheet pan focaccia with two different topping combinations: Jalapeño & (Vegan) Cheese and Tomato, Herb & Garlic.
- 1½ cups (375 ml) warm water
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) sugar
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) active dry yeast
- 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
- 4½ cups (540 grams) all-purpose flour
- Olive oil, as needed
Jalapeño & Cheese Option (1 full sheet pan)
- 1 cup (140 grams) pickled (tamed) jalapeños
- ½ cup (45 grams) vegan cheese shreds (I used Daiya)
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Optional: vegan Parmesan, to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
Tomato & Herb Option (1 full sheet pan)
- 1 cup (160 grams) halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Fresh or dried Italian herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, etc.), to taste
- Sea salt, to taste
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine warm water, sugar, yeast, salt, and ¾ of the all-purpose flour. Mix to combine. Knead (by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook) until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes), add remaining flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking.
- Coat the dough ball with olive oil and place it in a large bowl covered with a damp kitchen towel. Leave to rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the parchment paper with olive oil.
- After the dough doubles in size, punch it down. Flatten and stretch the dough to fit your sheet pan. Cover lightly with a sheet of plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (about 40 minutes).
- While the dough rises, preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) and prepare toppings.
- After the dough has risen, add your choice of toppings. Use your fingers to thoroughly dimple the dough, pressing the toppings into the bread. Drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt.
- Bake focaccia until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.
Ingredient amounts for toppings options are for 1 full sheet pan. If you want to make ½ and ½, half the ingredient amounts.
Keywords: focaccia, vegan focaccia, jalapeño cheese focaccia, tomato herb focaccia
Maybe it means resolving to cook at home more often, to keep a well-stocked freezer and pantry, to waste less, or to make slightly more wholesome choices. Maybe, for you, this is the year in which you’d like to give veganism ( or vegetarianism ) a try.
Whether you’re trying to dip your toes slowly into the world of plant-based eating, or you’re ready to make a total shift, it can be helpful to keep a few things in mind.
Some people go vegan overnight, and they never look back. But for many others, a slow transition is more sustainable ( and pleasurable ) than a 180-degree turn. If the idea of going vegan feels daunting, start with a couple of small steps, like a Meatless Monday challenge at home, or switching one of your daily meals to a meatless and dairy-free option. ( You’d be surprised at how easy it is to trade your turkey sandwich for hummus, tempeh bacon, and avocado ).
I’m quick to say that vegan food is just food. While there are a couple of secret weapon ingredients to have on your radar ( nutritional yeast, I’m lookin’ at you ), for the most part a healthy appetite for céréales, beans, and produce is all you really need to get started. With that said, any dietary shift can be tricky, and veganism is no exception. So, before you get started, take just a little time to go over the basics of plant-based nutrition. Find a useful, all-in-one resource, like Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina’s Becoming Vegan, or Ginny Messina and Jack Norris’ Vegan For Life. At some point, someone will ask you where you get your protein ( or your iron, or your calcium ), and while you could laugh the question off, it’s a lot more powerful to supply a quick, confident answer.
Going vegan expanded my palate dramatically : I learned about all sorts of global cuisines, warmed up to my spice rack, and tried ingredients I’d never considered before. But my culinary repertoire was pretty meager when I made the switch. If you already have some culinary experience, don’t assume that you’ll need to acquire an entirely new bag of tricks to eat vegan or vegetarian.
In fact, one really useful place to start is by looking at some of your favorite dinner recipes and thinking about how you might adapt them to be meatless and/or dairy-free. It may be as simple as removing some cheese ( or replacing it with cashew cheese ). It may mean trading the central protein for beans, soy foods, or even a hearty vegetable, like mushrooms.
Until I went vegan, I had never tried tempeh, soba noodles, kimchi, kabocha squash, nutritional yeast, millet, mulberries, or buckwheat…and the list goes on. Becoming vegan encouraged me to explore new ingredients, and it also introduced me to more global dishes.
A great many dietary folklores around the world are already plant-based, which means that végétaliens and vegetarians have many rich, exciting culinary traditions to draw upon. If you’re new to plant-based cooking, explore meatless dishes and recipes from other parts of the world ( Indian, Ethiopian, and Middle Eastern dishes are some of my personal favorites ). Dust off your spice rack and add new flavors to your food. Use your transition to plant-based eating as an excuse to try new céréales, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of folks assume that adapting a recipe to be vegan means replacing the meat or poultry with a faux meat, a block of tofu, or tempeh. That’s cool, but it can also be fun to think creatively and imaginatively about how to capture the essence of a traditional recipe without animal protein. No, lentil Bolognese isn’t really Bolognese, but it does capture the heartiness of the original; cashew banana yogurt is a far cry from dairy, but it does evoke the same, sweet creaminess.
Many people are surprised by how easy it is to go meatless. Cheese, on the other hand, is a different story. I myself used to utter the same words I hear constantly from readers, friends, and nutrition clients : ' I’d love to go vegan, but I can’t give up cheese. '
While I won’t pretend that giving up dairy is easy—it’s not, especially because it’s so ubiquitous in restaurant dishes—I will say that I had a much easier time living without it when I learned to make my own substitutes. Store-bought soy and almond cheeses weren’t cutting it ( especially nine years ago, when the alternatives were limited ), and soy creamers and yogurts left me feeling equally flat. Making my first batch of cashew cheese—which authentically captured the tanginess and texture of goat cheese—was a revelation. Homemade nut milk let me create creamy porridge and muesli far more authentically than did store-bought, non-dairy milk.
Over time, I’ve experimented with tofu paneer, tofu feta, and cashew yogurt, and the list is growing. Homemade dairy substitutes are creative, fun, and cost-effective, and I think they’re a big step up from what you can find in the store.
While I’m the first to point out that vegan proteins extend far beyond soy foods—encompassing tonalités of different grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds—you really can’t beat tofu and tempeh for ' meaty ' texture and complete protein in meatless dishes. Both ingredients can be either memorable or mundane, depending on how you prepare them. I definitely recommend pressing tofu if you’re not already in the habit; it’ll create a firmer, more toothsome matière that most people prefer.
When preparing tempeh, be sure to use a boldly flavored marinade or sauce to help balance tempeh’s earthy taste, and if you find it bitter, you can steam it before marinating, too.
For the most part, I try to feature whole foods and homemade ingredients in my cooking. But in spite of the fact that I love to create my own dairy substitutes and I’d usually rather eat a scoop of lentils than a block of faux meat, I don’t eschew vegan products, and I think that keeping an open mind about them can really enrich the authenticity of your food.
This is especially important when you’re transitioning and vegan cooking still feels like a brave new world. Nine times out of ten, I’ll opt to use cashew cheese in a recipe rather than Daiya ( a melty, commercial vegan cheese ) ; coconut oil in place of Earth Balance ( vegan butter ) ; or grilled tofu in place of Beyond Chicken ( grilled strips of soy and pea protein that taste shockingly like chicken ).
But when I’m aiming for totally authentic, precise results, vegan substitute products can go a long way, and it’s comforting to know that they’re an option if I feel like taking a shortcut.
Over time, I learned to create vegan food with greater sensitivity to others’ tastes and traditions. I love a lot of really crunchy fare, from the aforementioned raw kale salad to tofu, sprouts, and grain bowls. And I know a lot of other folks who love these dishes, too. But sometimes being an ambassador of vegan food means knowing how to create dishes that feel familiar and appeal to a wide array of more conservative palates, like vegan lasagna, shepherd’s pie, or sloppy Joes.
And, if you’re trying to dispel the idea that all vegans eat is salad and prove that vegan food can be filling and hearty, then it’s all the more important to create dishes that evoke a sense of comfort.
Change feels a lot less daunting when you have company. If your family and friends aren’t exploring veganism along with you, then find community in other ways. Explore a vegan meetup or potluck in your community. Become a regular commenter on vegan food blogs. If you do have a friend who’s interested in plant-based cooking, convie him or her over for some recipe testing.
Studies show that failure to stick with a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is often attributed to feeling ' different ' or isolated. Food is all about community and sharing, so do your best to share this lifestyle with people you care about—even if they’re not making the change along with you.