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You’ve Never Seen Focaccia Like This Northern Italian Version

21 November 2023
by Regan Hofmann

You’ve Never Seen Focaccia Like This Northern Italian Version

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Focaccia di Recco is crispy, thin, and loaded with cheese. 

When you think of focaccia, you probably think of a springy, fluffy flatbread with a crackly golden crust and those signature dimples, maybe dotted with fragrant herbs, olives, or other flavorful vegetables. That iconic bread is focaccia genovese and it’s originally from Genoa, the capital of the northern Italian region of Liguria (the same place we get basil-green pesto genovese!). But just a few miles away, a very different kind of focaccia reigns supreme: focaccia di Recco.

In Recco, a seaside town just half an hour south of Genoa, the focaccia is cracker-thin, crispy, and—the best part—filled with gooey, melty cheese. Once known for its skilled boat builders, the town was almost completely destroyed during WWII and was rebuilt as a quiet retreat on the Italian Riviera in the 1950s. Today, Recco is a wonderful town to visit as you tour the coast, with stunning views, green hills, and many family bakeries proudly selling their freshly baked focaccia as a quick, satisfying snack.

Giada holding Focaccia di Recco

Unlike focaccia genovese, which uses yeast and lots of water to make a soft, pillowy dough that puffs up in the oven, focaccia di Recco is unleavened so it stays flat. The dough is made with olive oil and then stretched extra thin for the crispiest, crackliest layers, sandwiched around dollops of creamy local cheese. It was invented in the Middle Ages, when raids on the Ligurian coast were common. Fleeing their coastal home during one of these raids, the citizens of Recco hid in the mountains, where they created this bread with the few ingredients they had on hand: flour, olive oil, salt and cheese.

In 2015, the dish was recognized with IGP designation, meaning only focaccia made in Recco using the traditional ingredients and methods may be officially called “focaccia di Recco.” (For some mouth-watering inspiration, check out the local consorzio’s Instagram account.) But we won’t tell if you make your own at home! While it’s traditionally made with stracchino or crescenza cheese, any soft, creamy cheese will be utterly delicious. Giada has made her version with both taleggio and brie, and camembert would also work—just be sure to remove any rinds. No matter which cheese you use, the crispy layers and gooey center will send this local oddity to the top of your list of favorite focaccias.

Watch Giada make Focaccia di Recco here:

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