Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rosemary Dough (Great for Pizza, Stromboli, Bread Sticks or Calzones) With Spinach-Sun Dried Tomato & Ricotta Cheese Filling

As a former employee of a popular Italian pizzeria in South Philadelphia, I learned a thing or two about making pizza dough. I wasn't directly involved in making the dough, let's get that straight, but the smell of the yeast was the sole reason for my wandering over to the dough station for observation. Few things in life are as enticing and delicate as the smell of fresh dough being made with yeast. It smells like clean air- untampered goodness.

If you are unfamiliar with making fresh dough, no need to worry, I have created a great recipe for you to dive into with detailed, step by step instructions so you can gain confidence in the art of pizza making.

This recipe can be used to make strombolis, calzones, bread sticks and pizza dough. You can simply add your favorite topping, filling or dip and you have a less expensive meal for your family. If you plan on bringing your creation to a friend's house, visit your local pizzeria to purchase a box (my pizzeria sold one to me for $0.35) and everyone will be amazed at your presentation skills and your professional tasting pizza dough.

Ingredients for Dough:
2 ½ Tsp. Active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
1 tbsp. Sugar
3 cups white flour plus more for dusting
¼ cup olive oil plus more for spreading on bowl
1 tsp. Salt
Cornmeal, for dusting
2 tbsp. Rosemary
1 tbsp. Water plus more if necessary

Directions For Dough:
* In the bowl of a standing mixer ( I love my Kitchen Aid) fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast , warm water and sugar until dissolved
* Let stand 5 minutes
* Turn mixer on #3 setting and slowly add the flour, 1 tbsp at a time
* Add olive oil, salt and 2 tbsp. rosemary (crunched between hands to release scent and oils)
* Occasionally stop mixer and scrape sides and remove dough from hook
* Add tbsp. Water + more if necessary
* Mix for no more than 10 minutes, where the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl.
* In the meantime, add two cups of water to a microwaveable bowl and heat for two- 3 minutes or until boiling
* Lightly cover your work surface with a dusting of flour and place your dough ball on the surface
* Fold dough over itself a few times, adding splashes of water if necessary for easier handling
* Form dough into a ball
* Lightly sprinkle olive oil into a metal bowl and spread around with a paper towel
* Place ball into bowl and tightly cover bowl with plastic wrap
* Place boiling water and bowl of dough into an unheated oven and let stand in oven for 4 hours
* After four hours, boil another 2 cups of water in microwave for 3 minutes or so
* Punch down the dough ball and place both the boiling water and dough ball back into the oven
* After 4 more hours, repeat boiling water and punching down dough ball
* Four hours later, or overnight, remove dough and punch down once more and start to lightly knead the dough
* In the meantime, create filling **
* Lightly sprinkle work surface and a large rolling pin with flour
* Set oven to 400 degrees
* Place dough ball on lightly floured work surface
* For calzones, cut dough ball into fours and roll out each section until 1/4”- 1/2” thick and make indentations with fingertips
* For Stromboli, pizza or bread sticks, roll out until 1/4”- 1/2” thick and make indentations with fingertips
* Sprinkle pan or pizza stone with cornmeal
* Place ready dough on surface and add filling
* To add filling for Strombolii or calzones, add filling to half side of stromboli only, then fold over creating a pocket.
* Form Stromboli, shape dough into U-Shape
* Fold ends over, pinching as you go along, creating a tight barrier so the filing doesn't escape.
* Tear two or three holes or slits on top of the Stromboli or calzone so steam releases
* For bread sticks, cut into strips using a pizza cutter
* Place in oven for 25 minutes

**For filling:
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese
1 large bunch fresh spinach (stems removed, washed 3x and set aside to drain water for 10 minutes)
1/3 cups diced sun-dried tomatoes
Few sprinkles red pepper flakes
½ tsp. Nutmeg
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. Olive oil

Directions for filling:
* Heat large saute pan and oil over medium heat and add garlic and saute until it becomes fragrant or 1 minute
* Add spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper and nutmeg and move quickly around the pan and cook for approx. 8 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn- you may have to lower heat to medium-low
* Remove from pan and add to mixing bowl
* Mix in ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese until combined


  1. I love to make homemade pizza and bread. I can't wait to try this. The filling looks especially delicious! Nutmeg, huh? Do you use dried or fresh? I have both.