I didn’t plan on posting this so there aren’t any prep pictures. But my kids sat down for dinner and 9 year old says: “Mom! You need to take a picture of this! It’s PERFECT!” And 7 year old says, “Mom! Take a picture of mine too, then post this on your blog so everyone’s mom can make it for their kids!” 9 year old says, “Yeah! Then all the kids can be as happy as us with dinner!” 5 year old is too busy eating to comment, but later says “Mom! I don’t know how you come up with this stuff, it’s so delicious.” So on behalf of my children, go make this now.
I talk to myself a lot in my head, especially with the kids all in school. In my head, I have a few meals that I have nicknamed “slump busters.” I’ll often try out new awesome recipes that I think everyone in my house will for sure love. They all have elements of things they love and none of the stuff they hate. The new meals take some time and prep work and I get all excited about doing this wonderful thing for my family and how happy they’ll be. But not one person (including my husband) will eat more than one or two bites of them. Then I’m stuck eating the leftovers for lunch for days.
So then I bring out a slump buster, and I’m a hero. I know my kids will eat pizza, mac & cheese, tacos, breakfast for dinner and they will gobble it up and sometimes even thank me or comment on it being good. But the slump busters are meals that are more than a kid’s meal. It feels like I’m wowing a large crowd instead of three little heads with the applause I get. I want to take a bow. And often I do.
Yes, I know, its a tiny victory in my tiny life and there are bigger problems and bigger victories to be won. But in an at home mom tiny life, it’s the little rewards that matter and make it worth while. I can carry that approval with me through a mountain of laundry, a few failed crock pot recipes and another version of meatloaf that no one likes.
I make this every few months and have also made it for larger family gatherings because you can prep ahead of time, bake a bunch at the same time, serve as finger food, and make a bunch of different flavors. It’s gone over well. Stromboli would be great for a SuperBowl Party, movie night, or kids party.
Stromboli is basically a rolled up sandwich (different from a calzone which is more of pizza folded in half). You can put in whatever you want depending on what kind of sandwich your audience prefers. The most popular filling is an italian sub sort of stomboli (salami, cappicola, proscuitto, mortadella, sort of thing) or other sliced deli meats. In our house, we have an italian fan, a pepperoni fan, a turkey fan, a ham fan and I like vegetables (especially spinach/greens, but also broccoli, roasted peppers, and eggplant). I’ve used leftover roasted chicken, sausage and peppers, and caprese salad (tomato, mozzerella, basil, pesto). After your meat and/or veggies, you add cheese, we used different kinds (typically provolone, mozzarella, cheddars, and parm), and the crispy cheese that bubbles out while cooking is one of the favorite parts of the stromboli experience. Or you don’t have to add cheese. Your choice.
Sometimes I make a red pepper spread or pesto and spread it out on the dough before the rest of the filling. But I wouldn’t recommend mustard or mayo or toppings like that before cooking. My 5 year old and I scoop up marinara or pizza sauce with ours, we don’t put it inside or on top like other recipes (that seems more like a calzone to me).
To make stromboli, you are just going to roll out pizza dough into a rectangle, lay on your toppings evenly, roll it up and bake it. Simple. We slice it up to serve it. Except once, when we watched big eyed while my father-in-law just grabbed a hot turkey and cheddar stromboli before slicing and ate a whole thing like it was a sub, and sometimes someone will sneak into the fridge and nibble leftovers like that. Stromboli heats up well (whole or sliced) and is good cold (my kids love to take leftovers in their lunch boxes). You can also freeze it cooked or par-baked or prep ahead and leave in the fridge for a day or so before baking. I’ve always made the pizza dough, just because I do, but go ahead, buy the dough, it’s easy, I don’t judge. You can get dough from a local pizzeria or at your grocery (usually in refrigerated prepared foods near the deli, in the freezer, or near the dairy items, you can even find it in a tube). Bread dough works too. I’ve used whole wheat dough before, and you could probably pull off gluten free pizza dough just fine.
Seriously, what’s not to love?
- pizza dough (store bought, or use any recipe, one recipe here). 1 lb can be used to make 2 stromboli. You can cook multiple stromboli in the same oven at the same time on the same cookie sheet, as well as multiple cookie sheets.
- filling of choice (usually ~ 1/2 lb deli meat + ~1 cup cheese, but any heat-able sandwich filling and spreads)
- optional: egg for egg wash, coarse salt or sesame seeds for top. Marinara for dipping.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, spray with cookie spray, or lightly grease with olive oil.
- Roll out your dough to approximately 12″ x 16″ on a lightly floured surface (you can adjust the size to be personal or for sharing, but make sure it fits your cookie sheets). If you are using some sort of spread (roasted red pepper or pesto are good) spread that on the dough. Layer your meat and/or vegetables evenly across the dough leaving about 1/2 an inch on the edges.
- Roll up the dough and seal the ends. Put on your cookie sheet with seam down. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt or sesame seeds. You can score the top in parallel lines for a neater look after baking (otherwise it will likely just split open anyway like in the pictures above). You can put more than one on a cookie sheet.
- Cover the stromboli very loosely with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25 minutes. If you are doing multiple cookie sheets, rotate them at this time.
- Remove from oven and allow to cook for a few minutes before cutting into (so the cheese doesn’t just melt right out).
- Serve with marinara or other sauce/condiments for dipping.