You can make Stromboli from just about any combination of foods providing there is cheese involved. Now, I’m only half Italian and I’m not sure if I could be handed a pair of cement shoes for saying that or not. This is just my observation based on what people have been willing to eat (and dare I say, enjoy) under the name “Stromboli” in my house. Growing up, it was referred to as Pepperoni Bread because traditionally, in my family, pepperoni (and lots of it) was the meat of choice. I not sure what kind of cheese my aunts used – I just knew it was good. Also, we only got it on New Year’s Eve – making it that much tastier.
By the time I had a family of my own, we were calling it Stromboli and everyone had their own way of making it. I used to be so intimidated because of the way people used to talk about their “process” of creating the loaf – like it was rocket science or something. I didn’t attempt it for years. I feel silly now, knowing that it is so easy and versatile…
I don’t have a recipe, and I am always trying new combinations for the filling. This tutorial was made using what I had available in the refrigerator. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and also to put a quick meal on the table during the week – trust me, no one will complain!
Supplies & Ingredients:
- 1 lb of pizza dough (sold in bags (fresh or frozen) at Walmart, ShopRite, Aldi’s, etc.) I usually buy half a dozen bags when it is on sale and throw them in the freezer. I take a bag out the night before I want to make the loaf and let it sit in the fridge until I’m ready. Don’t get hung up on rising and temperature.
- All-purpose flour – for dusting the work surface
- Aluminum foil – to set the loaf on
- Vegetable oil – for coating the loaf
- Cooking spray – for coating the foil
- Garlic powder – for flavor, of course!
- Other spices – again, your choice
- Large cookie sheet – preferably with sides
- Wooden rolling pin
- A nice, clean, flat surface to roll out your dough.
- Sharp, serrated knife
- Grated cheese
- Cheese – I always use a combination of at least 2 cheeses, but it’s not a requirement. I think it adds some depth to the flavor, but that’s just my “process”. I can’t tell you how much cheese you’ll need – enough for two layers to cover the dough when it is spread out. If you are buying it, I’d purchase at least ½ lb. You will see in the tutorial that I ran short on both types of cheeses but in the end, no one was the wiser. Cheese is NECESSARY to bind the loaf together.
- Meat – Pepperoni, salami, lunchmeat, quick steaks, roast beef, chicken, sausage, hamburger, and on and on… Think of your Stromboli like a big sub and throw in any combination that makes you happy. Once again, I can’t tell you how much and don’t panic if you run low…improvise! Meat is NOT a requirement.
- Other Fillings – Veggies like onions, sautéed spinach, broccoli, asparagus, peppers, tomatoes, sauces, eggs – if you can lay it on the dough, then it’s all good.
A note about meats and other fillings…some things should be precooked before adding to the loaf. Any meat that is raw falls into this category (quick steak, sausage, hamburger, etc.) Any veggies that you want caramelized or sautéed should also be done prior to layering onto the dough. Here is the important thing – after preparing ingredients like these, you must drain them thoroughly. Too much grease or moisture in your Stromboli ingredients will prevent the dough from baking properly and make it very heavy (and kinda gross).
Now that may seem like an extensive list, but trust me…you have most of it at your disposal. Okay, here we go:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Cover the cookie sheet with foil and spray with the cooking spray. If your sheet does not have sides, just turn up the sides of the foil so that any oil that seeps out of the loaf won’t spill all over your oven.
- Dust your rolling area with a liberal amount of all-purpose flour. Dust your rolling pin as well.
- Remove the dough from the bag and stretch it out a bit in your hands, forming a rectangle of sorts…don’t overthink this – you just want to get your shape started.
- Begin rolling the dough into a rectangle (again, not perfect). The dough will stretch back and fight you for a bit, but keep at it. You don’t want to leave the dough too thick or your loaf will be very bready (is that a word?). You also don’t want it too thin or it will appear limp. Your rectangle should be roughly 15”-18” side-to-side and 10”-12” front-to-back. IT WILL BE VERY ROUND ON THE EDGES, which is why I am even hesitant to call it a rectangle.
- Sprinkle the dough with garlic powder and/or any other spices that you like.
- Grab your cheese and lay it out in a single layer over the dough. Leave about ½” along the side closest to you and the two outside edges. Leave about an inch on the side furthest from you. If you run out of one type of cheese, just grab another to finish. This layer must cover the whole surface of the dough.
- Next, add your meats and/or other fillings. If using any sauces or really wet ingredients, use them sparingly. You can always serve the loaf with sauces on the side for dipping. Again, don’t fret about running out before the layer is done…just throw something else on there.
- Another cheese layer. If you don’t have enough, don’t give it a second thought. You’ll see in the photo below that I only had enough provolone to cover half of the dough.
- A bit more meat or filling, but just in the center – not all the way to the edges.
- Now it is time to roll. Begin with the edge closest to you. Fold it up and over the fillings. Continue rolling, do not try to make it tight or loose – just allow it to roll onto itself without picking it up.
- When you get to the last few inches, you will notice that the fillings are starting to move toward the edge (law of physics or something like that). Take the edge of the dough that is flat on the table and stretch it outward a bit so that the fillings don’t overflow. You want to have at least a ½” of dough that is not covered.
- Wet your finger (with water, not your mouth!) and run it along the remaining strip of dough. This will help seal the loaf. Make the last roll of the loaf so that the seam is on the bottom.
- On each end, grab the dough and stretch it out a bit and then fold it under. This keeps the loaf from leaking.
- Carefully transfer the loaf to the cookie sheet. You may need to sit it on there diagonally to fit the length.
- Now this is a bit messy. Take some vegetable oil and coat the outside of the loaf. Be generous, but don’t saturate it. I usually pour some in my hands and give it a good once-over.
- You can sprinkle grated cheese and/or more garlic or spices over the loaf. Don’t put too much or it may take on a burned appearance.
- With a sharp serrated knife, cut slits (just through the dough) every ¾” or so. This allows it to bake evenly and also scores the loaf for easier cutting.
- Bake it for approximately 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Remove the loaf from the foil onto a clean cutting board.
- Allow the loaf to sit for about 5-10 minutes before cutting with the serrated knife and serving. Mangia!
The possibilities are endless…cheesesteak with fried onions, sausage & peppers, cheeseburger, breakfast Stromboli, veggie Stromboli, you get the idea!