Team bye weeks ended last weekend, but because of the extended Thanksgiving schedule of Thursday games, this will be the first weekend in two months we’ll have the complete slate to watch on Sunday. Glorious. Full schedule, almost every game has playoffs implications (sorry Chiefs fans), fantasy football is in the playoffs, college football starts cannibalizing itself fighting over coaches and bowl games, David Beckham and possibly Landon Donovan play their last games with the Galaxy in the MLS Cup*; just listing how great football is in December causes me to hear “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” in my head.
You’re going to need a hearty snack to get you through the weekend.
Scacciata; Stromboli’s and Calzone’s Sicilian Cousin
Even the most adamant Team Pizza fans needs a break from heavy sauce, meat and cheese during the season, but there is nothing quite like tearing into warm dough with a cold beer while watching football. Enter the scacciata, a Sicilian variation of a calzone. Heavy on the vegetables and lighter on the cheese and meat, the layers of favor in a scacciata offer a more complex bite than just your ordinary pizza. Potatoes add heft, shaved onions and fennel play off each other in a sweet and savory delight, spinach and broccoli add brightness, spicy sausage adds heat and depth, while the provolone and a touch of olive oil meld everything together.You can add whatever vegetables you like to a scacciata; peppers, eggplant, but if they are rather watery be sure to cook them down a bit before baking. Want olives? Add olives. Want your scacciata to be even spicier? Sprinkle on red pepper flakes along with the salt and pepper. Second sausage? Sure, but don’t add more than two or it gets too oily during baking. A little sauce? Yes, fine. Just a few dabs here or there. Add too much and you may as well make a calzone.
You will need:
2 pounds pizza dough, divided
1 large russet potato, peeled and sliced very thin
6 ounces sliced provolone cheese
1 cup thinly shaved onion, approximately 1/2 onion
1 cup thinly shaved fennel, approximately 1/2 fennel bulb
4 cups packed spinach, about 12 ounces
3/4 cup – 1 cup broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
1 spicy Italian sausage, about 3-4 ounces, removed from casing
1 teaspoon + 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a touch more for oiling the pan
pinch of kosher salt and cracked pepper
flour for handling the dough
If you want to make your own pizza dough, I recommend either the dough recipe I used here for a sfincione (Sicilian Christmas pizza) or the King Arthur Flour recipe. Each recipe yields about a pound of dough, so double the amount for making a scacciata. If making your own dough sounds like too much hassle (and it can be!) use dough bought from your local pizzeria or the grocery store, just be sure to let it rest on the counter for about twenty minutes to come to room temperature before handling.
Preheat oven to 375º.
While the oven is heating up, wilt the spinach in a large skillet over medium heat and then roughly chop for easier spinach dispersal.
Using half of your dough, roll or press out a large rectangle shape to fit a large lasagne pan or cookie sheet on a floured surface. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to push the dough into shape once moved to the pan with your fingers. Pizza dough can handle the abuse and Goodell cannot fine you for what you do in your own kitchen, unless your kitchen involves secretly putting Adderall into your unsuspecting teammate’s water bottle.
Once you have a base for your scacciata, layer on the sliced potato, then provolone (you want the flat stuff on the bottom) followed by the shaved onions and fennel, wilted spinach, small broccoli florets, and then top with bits of sausage, leaving about an inch around the edge of the dough. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt and cracked pepper.
Make a second dough rectangle and gently lay it on top of your scacciata. Roll the edges of the top and bottom layers of dough together and pinch to create a seal all the way around the scacciata. Brush the top with the remaining olive oil and poke a few holes in the top of the scacciata to allow steam to escape while baking.
Bake for about 45 minutes at 375º, until the crust is nice and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about five minutes before slicing.
Yields 8 generous sized slices.
If you have any leftovers, scacciata reheats best in a 350º oven for about ten minutes.
This is a pizza dish so easy to make, you can get it together during the pregame, bake during the first half and have ready for slicing at halftime and not worry about being in the kitchen while the game is going. You can even assemble the scacciata a head of time if you like, just cover tightly, refrigerate and then allow to set out a few minutes while the oven preheats before placing the scacciata in to bake, adding maybe 5-10 minutes of baking time.
*It’s football too.