Lou & Lucy’s Leftovers: Fillings! Nothing more than fillings!

  • If you build it, they will eat. FOR THE GAZETTE/LOU GROCCIA

Published: 11/16/2019 3:00:22 AM
Modified: 11/16/2019 3:00:09 AM

Despite having spent more than a half-century cooking Italian food of all sorts, from fried smelts to stuffed squid to white lasagna to veal with tuna sauce to poached baby octopus, I have never actually made strombolis.

My older sister, who gravitates toward the “nonna” type of Italian cooking, has been making them for decades to serve at the holidays and for her three kids. After all, she is a nonna, with six granddaughters to feed whenever possible.

So this past weekend we visited her in Philly, and she gave me a lesson in making strombolis.

She uses Trader Joe pizza dough balls. One of these makes two strombolis. She stretches the dough ball into a roughly letter-size sheet.

The filling of her strombolis tends to be Italian cold cuts, provolone, sweet pickled peppers and a touch of tomato sauce. She suggests layering some meat down first before the cheese. This helps the cheese from melting though the dough in case it cracks.

(Note: Strombolis are rolled. Calzones are folded over, like meat pies.)

After assembling the stromboli, gently pull the dough over at each end and pinch. Then, give a brushing of olive oil over the entire stromboli.

Into the oven at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.

The trick when baking them is to make sure the inside dough cooks enough. Any temp higher than 375 degrees gets the outside done way before the inside dough is done.

For serving, she slices them crosswise. The slices can be served with a marinara sauce if you like.

Of course, I would never admit that my sister is a better cook than I am. Which she is. Just don’t let her see this column.


Sibling rivalry is a wonderful thing. It’s nice of you to admit your sister is a better cook. I’ve had your cooking; it’s pretty good. So she must be really good. That almost sounds like a compliment, what’s gotten into me?

I went through a stromboli phase. I would bring them to parties. They would get devoured instantly. I filled them with all kinds of stuff. Cold cuts, cheeses, roasted red peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, on and on. The trick is not to overfill or have anything too juicy. Other than that, making them is pretty easy. Don’t tell your sister I said that though.


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