Italians, I have to say, are pretty snobby about Greek olive oil. They are deeply scathing of the sometime Greek approach to harvesting (which involves laying a net down around the tree, sitting back and waiting for the olives to fall in) when, in Le Marche at least, there is a lot of hard labour combing each branch for olives by hand. But even the Italians would have to give the Greeks the nod for creating some delicious antipasti. Here I have combined hummus with our delicious lemon olive oil and some homemade focaccia. The result is so delicious it’s almost enough to forgive that whole messy Euro crisis business.
Put your drained and washed chickpeas into a food processor with the chopped up garlic, tahini, lemon juice, cumin seeds and a big pinch of salt. Process it till it’s a smooth paste then add the oil 1 tablespoon at a time, with the machine running if possible. If not whizz it between adding the spoonfuls. Check for seasoning, add some ground pepper and it’s ready.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, making sure there are no lumps. Add the flour, the salt, the yeasty water and oil to a mixing bowl. Mix it all together with a plastic dough scraper and then turn onto a floury surface. Knead it for 10 minutes till it bounces back to the touch and feels elastic. Make it into a big dough ball and put it in an oiled bowl, drizzle all over with olive oil, then leave in a warm place covered with a tea towel. It should take about 1 hour to double in size. Now grease a baking tray with some oil and ease out the dough onto it. Next flatten it out in the tray with your fingers until it’s about 2cm thick. Pull off clumps of rosemary leaves and push them into the dough. The better they’re inserted the less likely they are to burn. Cover again with a tea-towel and leave for half an hour to rise some more.
Preheat the oven to 220oC/425oC/GM7. When the dough has again risen to about twice the thickness make more indentations with your fingertips, drizzle all over with olive oil and sprinkle on a good dose of rock salt. Now whack it in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Turn out onto a wire rack so it doesn’t sweat underneath.