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Nutella, Strawberry & Banana Stromboli

July 22, 2014 Menu No Comments

Being a writer of an Italian-themed food blog, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have quite a few tasty guilty pleasures – with Nutella and stromboli way up on top of my list. I’ve posted a number of stromboli recipes on my blog over the years, and Nutella…well, how can I not love Nutella? Last week, I allowed both tasty worlds to collide as my daughter Julianna and I put a frozen puff pastry sheet that we hand on hand to deliciously good use. This was a fun and easy recipe that my daughter and I both enjoyed working on together. Time was mostly spent waiting on the pastry sheet  to completely defrost (which took a good 30-45 minutes). Once the pastry sheet was defrosted, I had Jules spread an even layer of Nutella as I sliced up some fresh strawberries and bananas. When spreading the Nutella, we left a one inch border on all four sides, which would allow us to fold and tuck the pastry sheet and not have any Nutella run out when baking. Once rolled, jelly-roll style, we brushed a little egg wash on the top of the rolled pastry, then topped it with a sprinkling of cinnamon. We baked it at 400˚ on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for 15 minutes. In just a short amount of time, we had a piping-hot dessert ready to be shared with my wife and our younger daughter Ava, served up with a little whipped cream on the side. I’m sure you can go all kinds of fun and crazy directions with this recipe…and I plan to do so, especially when the fall weather rolls into town in a few months. Be sure to keep it fun, let the kids get involved, and I guarantee that it will make for a tasty and memorable evening for you and your family!


Step 1: Using one defrosted puff pastry sheet, spread an even coating of Nutella. Be sure to leave a one inch border on all four sides, which will make for easier rolling and sealing. This is a fun and easy step to have your kids handle, as you prepare and slice the fruit topping.


Step 2: Place the fruit slices evenly on top of the Nutella spread. Be sure not to over-pack it with fruit, otherwise it will be difficult to roll the pastry shell – possibly breaking the shell if over-packed.


Step 3: Roll the pastry sheet jelly-roll style. Fold the top and bottom ends down before the final roll, so that both ends are tucked in and sealed.


Step 4: Place the rolled pastry onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush the top of the pastry with an egg wash, then sprinkle with a little cinnamon. Be sure to add a few vertical cuts to the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape. Place the cookie tray into a 400˚ oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.


Step 5: When cooled, slice it and serve it on a plate with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. Enjoy!


Meatball Competition: The Meatball Ring & Meatball Stromboli

Any self-respecting Italian has seen the movie, “Big Night,” in which an Italian family tries to succeed at the restaurant business in America. Well, there is one particular scene in which the chef accuses a dining customer of being a ‘criminal’ for wrongly assuming that spaghetti just comes with meatballs. Astonished at the fact that spaghetti is served on its own, she asks why on earth this is. The waiter kindly responds, with a confused disposition,

“Sometimes spaghetti just likes to be alone!”
(click here to watch the hilarious video footage of the scene)

It is a classic scene that depicts the epitome of Italian pride in cooking! But upon pondering the humor in this ordeal, Una Mamma and I got to thinking,

“What about the meatball? Does the meatball ever like to be alone?”

And thus, this meatball challenge was born. We decided to explore unique ways to serve the meatball on its own – without its commonly paired up partner – spaghetti – or any pasta, for that matter.

And so, here you have two dishes that involve meatballs in two similar, yet very different ways. Which one looks better? YOU decide. Don’t forget to vote in the poll on the sidebar of this or the Una Mamma Italiana blog!


By Una Mamma Italiana

Here, (out West, that is) we have more than just sunshine and the Pacific – we have a fabulous restaurant chain, “The California Pizza Kitchen!” Now, I’m sure many of you Easterners have tried this place, but have you ever ordered their pizza salad? I grew up eating at this place. While my brother & I ordered greasy pepperoni, or barbeque chicken pizza, my mom (the constant dieter) would order this pizza salad. This, my friends, is the dish that inspired The Meatball Ring.

CPK would often serve a specialty salad atop a blindy baked (cooked with no toppings) pizza crust. It was like getting some bread on the side of your salad, but it made for a very unique presentation. I thought, why not incorporate meatballs into this.

My mind whirled around stuffed crust pizzas – why not stuff the crust with meatballs? But that looked a bit ridiculous in my head. Then I thought about wrapping the meatballs, instead of hiding them in the crust. (Think pigs in a blanket). Eureka. That – with a little bit of help from my best friend (google), brought the meatball ring to life. And there are SO many directions you can go with this.

I used croissant dough, but I am pretty sure that pizza dough, rolled out thin enough, would work just fine (maybe even better).

I laid out the dough on a circular pizza pan, leaving the triangular tips around the edge in the shape of a ring. I rolled a meatball under each point of dough until I had a star-like pizza crust. I baked it according to package directions.

Then, I let it cool, and topped it with a fresh salad. it was such a fun way of serving up a big salad to a crown. Then with every scoop of salad, each person can pull apart one of the triangles holding meatball. Not a bad idea, right?

But then my mind went a-whirling again. Why not use this meatball ring as a way to serve up ANYTHING at all. My next thought was antipasto. PERFECT. The gorgeous layout of Italian meats, cheeses, olives, artichokes,and whatever else you like on your antipasto platter would look beautiful served atop this meatball ring. And once it’s cooled, it holds together like a gem!

Needless to say, this was my Superbowl party recipe! I will surely post a picture of the antipasto version a.s.a.p. – but use your imagination. What would you top this meatball ring with?


By Dominic Condo

To me, there is no other dish as traditional and tasty as a plate of pasta topped with two or three meatballs. Even when Sunday dinners are presented family style, the full serving plate of meatballs almost serves as the centerpiece of the table. Classic. Comforting.

But I also love me a good meatball sandwich! Served up in a nice roll, topped with Parmesan and maybe a little mozzarella, toasted up in the oven grinder-style…it’s crispy hot goodness in every bite! If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that one of our go-to foods when getting together with friends is homemade Stromboli. Using meatball as Stromboli filling is always high on our request list. The consistency of a meatball sandwich combined with the taste of delicious homemade pizza dough. How could you go wrong?

The recipe itself is fairly simple – roll out your dough, top with meatballs, add some cheese, roll up, bake and serve. It’s during the actual assembly when the love and craftsmanship comes into play.

Let’s break it down….

A. you want to make sure that you roll out your dough thin enough to fold, but not too thin where it will break. There’s a lot more texture in this filling as opposed to a pepperoni or ham Stromboli, so you need enough dough to keep everything contained.

B. you want to squash up your meatballs so they fill up more space and are not to lumpy. You’ll want to let the meatballs cool before doing this step for two reasons:
1 – it’s easier to work with the meatballs when slightly cooled
2 – if the meat is still hot, it will start to warm up the dough and make it harder to work with.

C. do not go overboard when adding your gravy/sauce.The key to a meatball Stromboli is the gravy….you don’t want it to be dry. A nice little drizzle of sauce on top of the crushed meatball is plenty. Too much sauce will make the dough soggy and hard to work with. And just as I mentioned about working with the meatballs cooled, you don’t want the gravy to be too hot. Otherwise it will make the dough difficult to work with, You can always serve up a bowl of gravy/sauce on the side for dipping.

D. try using a combination of provolone and mozzarella cheese. Both melt well, and the combination gives you an equal balance of mozzarella creaminess and provolone sharpness. This is one of the many cooking tricks that my cousin Michael taught me many years ago!

You can follow my example photo on how to roll a Stromboli (although the example photo is of a pepperoni stromboli, the same rolling method applies to the meatball stromboli). Add a few slits on the top of the dough to avoid air bubbles. Give it a quick hit with cooking spray, top with a bit of Italian seasoning. Bake uncovered at 375º for about 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes to cool. Otherwise the insides will run out if you slice it too soon.

Slice, Serve and Enjoy!


Grilled Caprese-Style Stromboli

July 19, 2009 Entrees, Menu 2 Comments

This is based on a suggestion from my previous Stromboli post from my paisano, Tiffany Longo (aka Una Mamma Italanio). For tips on rolling Stromboli, check out the previous post.

Delish. Nothing else to say.

1lb. pizza dough
1 12-oz jar roasted peppers, finely chopped and drained.
2 cups pesto (see recipe below)
fresh mozzarella cheese

Roll out dough, but not too thin. The wet ingredients will cause the thin dough to break. Spread the pesto, add the peppers, then sliced mozzarella cheese. Roll up and place on a piece of aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray (to avoid the dough from sticking). Heat grill to medium high, cook ‘boli on inidrect heat (not directly over the flames) for approx 35-40 minutes, until dough is ice and brown. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food
processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not
already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add
the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.



May 16, 2009 Entrees, Menu 2 Comments

If you’ve ever been a guest in our house, either for a party or just to hang out, chances are that at some point you’ve eaten our home-made stromboli. For those of you that may not be familiar with stromboli, it’s similar to a calzone. Instead of being in a pocket-shape, a stromboli is rolled into a long loaf, baked, then sliced into 1″ – 2″ pieces. It’s a popular, often requested dish that we not only serve at our house, but also bring along to parties that we’re invited to as guests. We’ve made strombolis for big vacations with family and friends, for our family’s New Years Eve parties and even for grill-outs (more on that later). It’s our way of breaking bread with friends….only this bread is stuffed with cheese and usually either pepperoni, ham, steak, meatball or spinach. It works well as either an appetizer or as a meal, and it’s not nearly as greasy as one that you may get from a corner pizza shop. They taste best when rolled and cooked fresh, but you can pre-roll them and freeze them for future use. If you are freezing them, be sure to spray them with cooking spray before wrapping them in aluminum foil. This will help avoid the dough from sticking to the foil.

Not to brag, but our home-made stromboli has always been a big hit. The first thing my best buddy John said to me when he first saw my blog was “Almond Asparagus? Post the recipe for the meatball stromboli.” And not a time has gone by when his wife, Manuela, hasn’t berated me for not selling our stromboli. Now, you might be saying, “Yo, Dom…what’s the big deal? You roll out your dough, slap down some meat and cheese, fold it up, bake it and bada-bing…stromboli!”. While the actual steps are about as involved as making a sandwich, the key to ANY good dish is the ingredients. So, what I’ve decided to do for this recipe is to give you step-by-step tips and tricks on what has helped me make good, and even occasionally not-so-good stromboli.

STEP 1: The Dough
The best type of dough to use is pizza dough. You want the dough to bake to a nice, crispy finish and not be too bready. If you don’t make your own pizza dough, your best bet is to find a bakery that sells their own pizza dough. Trader Joe’s sells a great garlic herb pizza dough that works great for a spinach stromboli. If you can’t find fresh pizza dough, you can get frozen pizza dough at the super market. I prefer not to use regular bread dough, as the taste and texture just doesn’t seem to work as well for me.

Prepare 1lb. dough as you would for pizza or bread, letting it rise in a bowl covered with a towel (instructions are usually on the pre-made pizza dough packets). This makes for easy rolling and shaping. Roll out the dough into the shape of a large rectangle. Roll it thin, but not to the point where it breaks apart.

STEP 2: The Fillings
The standard fillings that I use are either pepperoni, ham, thin steak, meatball, sausage or spinach. If you are using a lunchmeat filling, be sure to get it sliced fresh from the deli. You’ll use about 1/4 pound per ‘boli.
Pepperoni – use the large deli-sliced pepperoni as opposed to the small, snack sized pepperoni. It’s easier to work with and you’ll use less.
Ham – any ham of your choice would work, although I prefer tavern ham. Prosciutto would be fantastic, but hey, we’re in a recession!
Steak – when making steak ‘boli, I simply use cooked Minute Steak and season it with salt, pepper and onion powder (you get the onion flavor, but without actual pieces of onion).
Meatball – I like to crush up the cooked meatball and spread it on the dough. I try not to use too much sauce, because it makes the dough soggy and hard to work with. You can always serve with a bowl of sauce on the side for dipping.
Sausage – I’ve only made this once, but it was a big hit. I used ground sausage out of it’s casing, spread it on a pan and baked it until slightly crispy, then mixed it with roasted red peppers. Nice!
Spinach – this one goes over well with those that don’t eat red meat. I use a box of frozen spinach, defrosted and strained (strain it by using a kitchen towel – you lose the water without losing any of the spinach). Spread it evenly over the dough and top with garlic and onion powder.
I’ve tried using jarred mixed vegetables in a tomato sauce once, but had bad results. The sauce turned the dough into a pile of mush. Not good.
Another filling that I’m thinking of using down the line is thin sliced turkey with bacon bits.

STEP 3: The Cheese
I always use two cheeses, mozzarella and provolone. They both melt nicely, and the provolone adds a bit of a bite. Deli sliced is the best way to go, but you can also buy a bag of mixed shredded provolone and mozzarella, which works well. I might go with Swiss if/when I make the turkey and bacon ‘boli.

STEP 4: Assembly
After you’ve rolled out your dough, spread your filling on top, then add your cheese. Gently roll from left to right, then tuck the ends under to seal off. Spray the top with a cooking spray, or brush with an egg wash. Sprinkle the top with oregano. Cut a few slits across on the top to avoid massive air bubbles.

STEP 5: Cooking
The traditional method is to bake. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray, place the ‘bolis on the pan and bake at 400º for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes, then slice and serve
Grilled – yes, I have tried grilling stromboli last year at my in-law’s Labor Day BBQ Block Party, and yes it was damn good! The crispy crunch of the crust was out of this world. I grilled both pepperoni and ham ‘bolis. The pep was the better of the two, but I think that had to do with timing on the grill. I simply placed the ‘boli on a sheet of aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray, and cooked them over medium-high indirect heat (if you have a 3-burner grill, fire up the left and right burners, and place the ‘boli over the center burner). I plan on experimenting with grilled ‘bolis a lot more this summer.

Like I mentioned above, I don’t prefer adding sauces to the ‘bolis because they tend to make the dough soggy. I prefer serving a side dish of sauce for dipping. Ketchup works well with the steak ‘boli. And if I ever decide to do the turkey/bacon/swiss cheese ‘boli, I’m thinking a side of ranch or blue cheese will do the trick.

So there you have it…’boli 101. Give it a try, experiment with the filling, crack open a beer and enjoy!


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