Friday, September 24, 2010

Pepperoni, broccoli & spinach stromboli

Happy Friday from the comforts of my apartment!  Especially happy since I'm making up for working last Saturday by enjoying a day off today :)   The weatherman predicted a gorgeous "summer" day here in western PA, which is the perfect backdrop for the day I have planned.  I managed a quick run this morning, the last in preparation for the Great Race on Sunday.  After some eggs and errands, Matt and I are going to head over to Bloomfield for Little Italy Days.  Cannoli, ravioli, proscuitto, sausage... yes to all of the above!  I'm going to take my camera, so pictures to come on Monday hopefully!

I've been working through the back log of recipes, and this seemed like a perfect fit for today -- a classic Italian stromboli.  I have yet to meet an Italian specialty I don't like, but I must shamefully admit that I still don't know the difference between some of the terms.  The hundreds of shapes of pasta, whew, I'll never know all of those.  But how about stromboli and calzone?  Until recently I considered them both delicious disguised forms of pizza.  After the jump, the mystery is solved...

A calzone is a crescent-shaped turnover -- think round pizza folder in half with the edges crimped together.  A stromboli is a rolled pizza of sorts -- think cinnamon roll-style construction without slicing before cookie.  It appears that ingredients have nothing to do with the naming and are at the sole discretion of the cook.  I'm going to try to remember to ask a few of the vendors this afternoon and I'll let you know what else I learn.  For now, we'll work with the aforementioned distinction.

What I especially loved about this meal was that it can be 100% personalized.  I've had stromboli before and my one complaint is that I feel like I'm always getting mostly bread.  It's a bit of a letdown when I bite into something that's supposed to be bursting at the seams with fillings and all I can taste is thick (yet still delicious) dough.  By being the cook, I chose to roll out the dough to a very thin sheet and stuff it to the gills with broccoli and spinach, spicy pepperoni and cheese.  After baking, the outside was golden and just crispy enough while the ingredients inside had come together and created an ooey gooey cheesy veggie-laden pepperoni symphony meant only to satisfy my tummy.

Just writing about this makes me hungry (and I just ate)!  Guess I'm going to the right place today to see if those proud Italian food masters can impress me.  Twist my arm, I'm willing to take on the challenge!  But really, if it were raining and not ideal for traipsing around outside from tent to tent, I'd be more than satisfied fixing myself another one of these at home.  It's quick, easy, homemade, and so freakin' delicious you'll be getting rid of that delivery pizza magnet on your refrigerator in no time.  Go ahead and make them this weekend -- enjoy yours and catch ya on Monday!

Pepperoni, Broccoli & Spinach Stromboli
-makes 4

A few notes:
  • Full disclosure -- I was planning to put some sauce inside the stromboli, too, but I got distracted snacking on cheese and completely forgot it.  But, if I could have a do-over, I wouldn't include it because I think it would make the baking process quite messy with oozing marinara from the slits in the top of the stromboli.  In my humble opinion, save the marinara for a dipping sauce.  
  • Also, feel free to use whatever filings you like -- anything that you'd like on your pizza, for example.  I'm getting visions of a dessert stromboli... for another time, naturally.  
  • And, finally, the pizza dough itself.  The recipe I linked to is my go-to and is incredibly easy and inexpensive.  Unused portions wrapped tightly in plastic freeze well; thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before use and come to room temperature quickly when handling and rolling.  If you are looking for convenience, however, look for the frozen bread dough to come in packages of 3 loaves.  Put one in a large resealable plastic bag to thaw overnight.
1 pound pizza dough, using this recipe or thawed from frozen in fridge overnight
all-purpose flour, for dusting
2 cups frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, chopped and patted dry
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups baby spinach
2 ounces thinly sliced pepperoni
1 cup marinara sauce, for serving

Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Divide dough into 4 pieces.  On a lightly floured work surface, stretch and roll out each piece to a 6-by-8-inch rectangle.

Sprinkle garlic evenly among the doughs.  Dividing evenly, "decorate" each dough with ingredients, being sure to leave a 1/2-inch border: cheese, broccoli, spinach, and pepperoni.  

Starting at the shorter end, roll up each stromboli and place each, seam side down, onto the baking sheet.  With a paring knife, cut two slits in the top of each stromboli for steam to escape.  Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes.  Serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

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