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flash of brilliance

Recipe: stromboli

You know how I have that terrible habit of sitting on the NOAA forecast website in winter in the hopes that my reloading of the page will somehow change “sunny” to “blizzard”? I do the same in summer except I am hoping to change “sunny” to “severe thunderstorm warning”. You might say I have a mild obsession with lightning. I love watching a thunderstorm, but I love photographing lightning even more. We had a pretty spectacular light show plow through the other night (I heard Breckenridge got hammered) and we’ve had a good strong run of monsoonal thunderstorms nearly every afternoon until a few days ago.

the crazy squigglies are so cool

double strike

right through the cloud

ribbon lightning (right is near 100% zoom)

I don’t actually know what our thunderstorm cycle was doing since Wednesday because I’ve been helping Jeremy host an astrophysics retreat in Boulder and at our home in the mountains. There was a good deal of wining, dining, a little hiking, and lots of science with some of the brightest (and nicest) young superstar ninjas in the field from around the country. I played hostess, caterer, event coordinator, photographer, and dog wrangler. It was exhausting, but it was great (and it’s why you didn’t hear from me all week).

a toast at the kitchen to kick things off the first night

fruit and pastries for a marathon day of science

a room with a view

marla addresses the group

jeremy wraps up the afternoon

winding down with happy hour at the kitchen upstairs

but they still have science on the brains

lisa brought her 2 month old daughter from hawai’i, by herself… lisa kicks ass

morning hike and discussion at 11,000 feet

final toast to a whirlwind of science and fun

dinner at our house

ending the retreat with dessert and laughter on the deck

From my perspective it seemed like it was a successful retreat. Jeremy agrees. It involved an enormous amount of effort and planning, but I think Jeremy and I make an effective and efficient team. We like working together. Now we get to trade places as I’ll be hosting and teaching the Food and Light workshop next week. After that, I think I’ll be happy to not host an event for a while (but just a little while).

There is something to be said for simplifying your menu in summer. I tend to gravitate toward the recipes that require little effort and time because we seem to have so much going on in the warm months. I blame the gobs of daylight hours. We like the recipes that produce plenty of leftovers too because there are days when you get back from a bike ride or a hike and want to eat right away. Stromboli has always been on my list of bread-based foods to make. I tried it out early this summer and we were hooked.

make some pizza dough

let it rise

flatten half of the dough on a floured surface

roll it into a rectangle

As fillings (if it were pizza, it would be toppings) go, it’s really up to you and there is a good deal of flexibility. Just avoid wet and gloppy ingredients. The base ingredients in two variations we like are mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Then we either add salami or prosciutto with pesto.

mise en place: mozzarella, parmesan, pesto, salami, prosciutto

sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan

layer salami

or spread some pesto first and then add the cheeses

and top with prosciutto

Be sure to leave a little margin along the edges of the dough so that they are free of fillings. It makes it easier to pinch them closed and seal the whole thing when you’ve rolled it up. As for rolling the dough, treat it like a carpet and just try to roll it evenly. It’s quite forgiving.

start on one of the long edges and start rolling it up

pinch the seam closed and tuck in the ends

transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and brush with olive oil

slice steam vents after loaves have risen

My pesto version always leaks a lot of oil (from the pesto, presumably) so it’s a good idea to have that parchment lining the baking sheet. You also get some cheese oozing out and the parchment helps tremendously in terms of clean up. Once they are baked to a golden brown, they are ready to come out of the oven.



It’s essentially pizza, but rolled up into a convenient self-contained loaf of bread with the goodies on the inside with the exception of the sauce, which is served on the side. And I can bake several of them at one time. They reheat wonderfully (preferably in the oven or toaster oven because the nuker can render the dough soggy) and make a perfect lunch the next day. I see this recipe getting heavy rotation around here come autumn.

salami and cheese (back) and prosciutto-pesto (front)

give it a dunk in some tomato sauce

[print recipe]
adapted from Fine Cooking Issue #92 (March 2008)

pizza dough
1/2 cup pesto (didn’t use with the salami)
2 cups (or more) mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
8-10 slices prosciutto or salami

pizza dough (this is not the dough recipe from Fine Cooking – it’s from the KitchenAid recipe book)
1 pkg (2 1/4 tsps) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115F)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps olive oil
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in warmed mixer bowl. Add salt, olive oil, and 2 1/2 cups flour. Attach bowl and dough hook. Turn to Speed 2 and mix for 1 minute. Continue on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for 2 more minutes. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Cut the dough in half and roll one half out on a floured work surface into a thin rectangle (mine was approximately 10×16 inches). Spread the pesto (if using) in a thin layer over the dough, leaving a margin of an inch on the long side furthest from you. Sprinkle 1/4 cup mozzarella evenly over the dough. Repeat with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Layer prosciutto over the cheese (or salami). From the end closest to you, roll the dough up like a carpet, tightly and evenly. Pinch the seam together with your fingers and then pinch the ends and tuck them under the loaf. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Place the loaves on parchment on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil. Let rise for another hour (oops, I only waited 20 minutes – we were hungry…).

Heat oven to 400°F. When the stromboli are ready, brush the dough once more with olive oil and slice three to four steam vent slits crosswise into each loaf with a knife down into the filling to release air pockets. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes until the bread is a rich golden brown (took me 25 minutes). Rotate the pan after the first ten minutes of baking for evenness (I didn’t do this). Cool for 5 minutes once out of the oven and slice. Serve with tomato sauce on the side for dipping.

36 nibbles at “flash of brilliance”

  1. Memoria says:

    I have some homemade pizza dough in the freezer and a lot of Italian meats and cheeses. I should make this soon. Thanks!

    Lovely lightening and workshop photos.

  2. Bev Weidner says:

    I just fainted. But now I’m alert and ready to comment.


    a) gorgeous stromboli.

    b) why aren’t we friends?

  3. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga says:

    Awesome shots, Jen!

    I really love the lightning! I’d love to hear from you in Boulder about how to shoot those types of shots. In my next lifetime Im sure I’ll be able to come back and have that one figured out…haha!

  4. Kath says:

    Stromboli has never appealed to me until I saw your photos. Gorgeous, and YUM! I’d try yours any day.

  5. Margie says:

    The Flatirons!!!!!! I love you, dearly. :)

    Back to the food: Brilliant! I love making Stromboli. Emeril Lagasse taught me everything I know (okay, so I was sitting in front of my t.v., but still……). Next go-round, I’m whirling to this gig.

    Kudos to Jeremy …. I can only imagine being a fly upon the wall in a room full of scientists.

    Best wishes to you on your upcoming seminar. I’d love to be in attendance. You are such an inspiration!

    P.S. Can you send some rain my way?

  6. vanillasugarblog says:

    love reading your post on a sunday evening with my cold glass of iced tea. as i dream of someday (yes someday) having a grown up camera just like you.
    oh the photos i am missing with our powerful lighting storms here on cape cod.
    my hubby would enjoy the room full of science geeks, while I eat your stromboli. :-)

  7. Caitlin says:

    Mmmm. I haven’t had stromboli in AGES, but I had it all the time growing up. Thanks for the reminder to make it again soon!

  8. Nisrine M. says:

    The detailed pictures are brilliant and the stromboli uber delicious. Thanks for sahring.

  9. Jessica says:

    This was perfect timing for me! I had had made pizza dough but the only ingredients I had on hand for pizza was sausage, onions, and Mozzarella. I only had time to let it rise the 2nd time for 25 minutes, and it worked perfectly! Can’t wait to try a pesto version!

  10. Melissa @ Dash of East says:

    That stromboli is beautiful! I’ve been trying to bake pizza, foccacia and bread at home and my baked goods never turn out quite so pretty.

    Awesome shots of the lighting too – we had a big thunderstorm here the other night and we were sitting out on our porch wondering how people manage to get great photos of lighting. I can never tell when it’s about to strike, and my reaction time is pretty horrible.

    Looking forward to having you host us in Boulder! I’m so excited!

  11. Nan says:

    Some of the best times I’ve spent with my my resident astrophysicist have involved sitting with him in a group of other physicists. I love just listening. All of that freely flowing information is intoxicating!

    I think Stromboli would be an excellent football party food. Copied and keeping to use in the fall!

  12. Marisa says:

    This is what I’m going to be making tonight! Got me some leftover roast pork shoulder that I think will work a treat as part of the filling.

  13. Debbie says:

    I love the idea of using the pesto with the proscuitto. I’ve been using pesto on everything lately (LOVE IT!) so now I have another idea to try. Thanks Jen. oh, and my stomach is growling from these beautiful photos of stromboli. Yum.

  14. Chris @ TheKeenanCookBook says:

    Oh yum, pesto and proscuitto in stromboli. What an interesting and delicious take and different from how I make my stromboli. I think next time I’ll be adventuresome and try your rendition!
    PS – New subscriber!

  15. jacquie says:

    love the lightening pictures. we could sure use some rain out in maryland please send some our way.

    any thoughts on a vegetarian version of the stomboli? would it work? or be too “wet”? or not hearty enough?

  16. Sasha @ The Procrastobaker says:

    oh wowww, this looks like my dream come true! such a perfect picnic item (or anytime lets be fair!) and so scrummy looking :) gorgeous recipe indeed!

  17. Debbie says:

    I have never made stromboli. Love your step by step pics of how to make this. I may actually try it! The weather pictures are beautiful and I love the one of the hikers enjoying a talk at 11,000 ft. What a blue sky!

  18. Dana says:

    Egads Jen! I don’t usually comment on posts where I can’t eat what is written about but holy schmoly, I want a veg version of a stromboli! The method – the dipping! So amazing! Congrats on a job well done – I can just see how much work you put in to making everyone feel at home and well fed.

  19. Kristi says:

    Just made this and it turned out fabulous! Used pesto and sundried tomatoes for one of them. Going to try the mee krob next. It also looks to die for

  20. Diana says:

    I am not a huge fan of pesto (or hummus, my sisters hate me) but that looks really, really good. I love prosciutto though so hmm, will have to find an alternative.

    Also MASSIVE envy for the science in the house. I was always, always interested in that field but I got knocked out of pursuing it by my parents decades ago. I’m going after law now but I still sort of yearn for it, especially trapped in a city. I miss the stars.

  21. Evi says:

    Hey Jen, we loved this recipe! Mine don’t look as pretty as yours, I think I exaggerated a bit with the cheese in the filling. ;) They tasted gorgeous nevertheless!

  22. Shannon says:

    This is so happening, like right now.

  23. Valérie says:

    I never get tired of looking at your photographs of lightning… I’ve made stuffed rolled bread before, but never with pizza dough. It looks delicious!

  24. Sil says:

    Jen, I made this recipe yesterday and it was awesome! And the leftovers are great to bring to the office. Thank you for sharing!

  25. oleg bogdanov says:

    Oh my Oh my!!! This recipe is getting me hot under the collar :) I need need need to try this mm charctuerie in dough with cheese……….what can be better brilliant keep it up :)

  26. jenyu says:

    Margie – I wish I could send rain to a lot of places hit by drought. NM is suffering for sure :(

    Jessica – that sounds really good!

    Melissa – if you wait to shoot lightning until after you see it, you’re usually too late. Just keep the shutter open for a long time. Lots of black exposures… a couple of really good ones when you catch the lightning.

    Nan – to be honest, I think astronomy talk is immensely dull. I personally find a group of geologists to be far far more entertaining. I think Jeremy agrees with me on that one.

    Chris – welcome!! :)

    jacquie – oh yes! You can absolutely make this veggie! Just omit the meat. Include cheese, mushrooms, roasted peppers, olives, onions, artichokes, garlic. Oh yum!! :)

    Debbie – we have very blue skies here in the Rockies.

    Dana – totally can do a veg version, sweetie. And thanks so much, coming from a pro like you, I take that as a huge compliment. xoxo

    Kristi – yay!!

    Diana – I too love astronomy (which is what got me started on a science track in the first place), but what they’re talking about is not what most people think of – heavy math and physics. It’s all great stuff, but not nearly so digestible as what Carl Sagan would sling to the public :)

    Evi – good on ya.

    Sil – happy to hear it!

  27. Carla B. says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a while, and it just occurred to me that I’ve met your husband. (I thought he looked familiar) I work at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, WV, and he is one of our observers, or at least, has had observing time on the Green Bank Telescope in the past. Small world! If you ever find yourself in Green Bank, look me up; I’m also a foodie, and it would be all kinds of fun to cook with you.

  28. jenyu says:

    Carla – that’s very sweet of you, but it’s doubtful I’ll ever be in Green Bank. I’m the main reason he didn’t accept the directorship at GBT ;)

  29. Michelle says:

    Dear Jen,

    believe it or not: I´ve NEVER heard of stromboli before; and I simply love pizza!
    I just tried out your recipe (even with original italian salami, and self-made tomatosauce), and it is FANTASTIC! Thank you for this recipe; I really enjoy your site. The fotos are great, too!!!!

    Greetings from Germany (Bonn)!!

  30. Joy says:

    That looks so good. I like the pesto idea.

  31. Mollie says:

    amazing.. i mean, i’m always down for veg, cured meat and cheese wrapped in bread! i have such a hard time manipulating dough tho. it always rips, stretches unevenly or springs back. I’ll have to try this.

    And is that Darling Flank Steak I spy on that dinner table? yum… i make it allllllllll the time!

  32. jenyu says:

    Michelle – oooh, then you must! It’s simply wonderful :)

    Mollie – yes it is! You know it, girl ;)

  33. Lindsay says:

    I made this when we were entertaining friends the other night and it was SO SO good! All the flavors are so savory. Yum yum yum! Thanks!

  34. Kevin (Closet Cooking) says:

    Nice looking stromboli!

  35. Dory says:

    Hi! I think this is a great recipe. I am using refrigerated Pillsbury pizza crust, and things are not getting done at all. Any suggestions? I bought a ton of ingredients to make in a couple days…Please help!!

  36. jenyu says:

    Dory – when you say things are not getting done, are you referring to the baking?

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