Spinach Pies–My Bridge to Italy

Spinach Pies from Naples via Providence RI
Spinach Pies from Naples via Providence RI

Making spinach pies today is a culinary bridge from the States to my upcoming temporary home in Naples.

The filling is inspired by the  “Wimpy Skippy,” a crowd-pleaser from Caserta Pizzeria on Providence’s Federal Hill, an Italian-American bastion.

I’ll find variations of spinach pies, called calzone in Italy, with all kinds of fillings when I’m in Naples. Neapolitans often fry calzone but I’m baking mine instead.

If you don’t want to make your own pizza dough, buy some at the market. Making the filling and the assembly are super easy.

Watch my pizza dough recipe to see how I make one pound of dough that will make 4 big calzone.

The golden tender crust has a nutty flavor. Garlic scents the sauteed spinach filling. Oozing mozzarella tamps down the heat from the pepperoni. A meal in a tidy envelope.

I hope my next post will be one of the 2 episodes we shot recently in North Beach. I’m shooting video in Roma next week with my friend Luca and his crew. We’ll post those episodes too.

Buon appetito!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Spinach Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Spinach pies or spinach calzones are encased in pizza dough. These are stuffed with spinach sauteed in extra virgin olive oil with garlic, topped with pepperoni and fresh mozzarella then baked in the oven.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Spinach Stuffing
  • 4 cups cooked spinach, chopped
  • ⅓ cup black olives, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 16 pepperoni slices
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
Instructions
  1. Set your oven to its highest setting. (Mine goes to 550 degrees.)
  2. Put a skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and garlic.
  3. Heat the oil and cook the garlic until it just starts to pick up some color.
  4. Add the black olives and stir well.
  5. Add the spinach and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix all the ingredients well.
  6. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated.
  7. If your using my pizza dough recipe, cut the dough into 4 pieces.
  8. On a well-floured board roll out the 4 dough pieces into thin rounds, about 10 inches in diameter. Or, form the rounds using your hands to stretch the dough.
  9. Starting in the middle, but ¼ of the spinach stuffing on the dough and spread it towards the rim leaving one inch border without the stuffing.
  10. Top the stuffing with 4 pepperoni slices and cover with sliced mozzarella.
  11. Fold the top half of the dough over the stuffing to form a turnover shape.
  12. Pinch the dough around the edge with your fingers to tightly seal the spinach pie.
  13. Using a pizza peel, slide each spinach pie on a pizza stone and bake until the dough is golden on top, about 8-10 minutes.
  14. (You can bake the pies on a cookie sheet brushed with olive oil if you like.)
  15. Take the spinach pies out of the oven and cool for a minute or two on a wired rack.
  16. Serve the spinach pies whole or cut in half.
  17. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
  18. (You can make the spinach pies ahead an heat them in a 375 degree oven for about 3 minutes.)

 

17 Replies to “Spinach Pies–My Bridge to Italy”

  1. Thank you for this recipe. I used to get these from Almacs and Solitro’s on Cranston St. I live now up in Boston and I can’t find a decent spinach pie.

  2. Two of my aunts & my grandmother would get together and make a huge batch of these. It is one recipe I never got. So thrilled I found this. Can’t wait to make them. One of my aunt’s – this was one of her specialties, and to not get the recipe from any of them was heartbreaking! THANK YOU!!!

  3. I can’t believe I found this recipe! I lived in RI a long time ago and worked at RI Hospital. We used to get spinach pies (Wimpies) all the time. I can’t wait to make these!

    1. Ciao Debi. Anytime I go to Providence, Caserta Pizzeria on Federal Hill is one of my first stops. We share Wimpys as an appetizer before moving on to an everything pie. Yum. We’re making spinach pies as part of our Easter celebrations here in San Francisco this week.

  4. I love the recipe. Was born in providence and miss those spinach pies. I used to walk to a small store calises (sp), I lived on Vernon street.

    I used to buy penny candy, and get a fresh spinach pie in the morning.

  5. I’m impressed, as an ex-rhode islanduh it’s great to see the food tradition spread to the other coast. What was the name of your place in RI in the 80’s? I probably went there.

      1. Grazie Gianni; yes, I remember it. Back in those days a friend and I had opened a place named Stromboli’s on Thayer Street if that sounds familiar. We named it after the volcanic island then created what is likely the first stromboli pie. I’ll make it a point to stop in at your place next time on the left coast. Because of seeing this post, we made some spinach pies last night with black olives, some chopped garlic lightly sauteed in olive oil and salt/pepper, simply perfect!

  6. woah! I didn’t realize that YOU are in SF ! tell me where I can find some tasty spinach pies! I came to your site just by googling “Rhode Island spinach pie recipes” and didn’t even read the North Beach heading….

    Phil

    1. Ciao Phil. I haven’t found any Rhode Island quality spinach pies here in San Francisco. That’s why I make my own. They’re easy to make and will remind you of Federal Hill.
      –Gianni

  7. hey Gianni-
    the recipe calls for 4 cups cooked spinach. how do you do the initial cooking?
    thanks.
    love spinach pies!
    haven’t found any in San Francisco where I live now to match RI pies.

    Phil

    1. Ciao Phil. If you’re using fresh baby spinach I saute in in a big pan. The directions are in the recipe at the bottom of the post. If you use frozen spinach, thaw it and squeeze out all the water then saute it as in the recipe. You’ll love this one.

      Buon appetito!
      –Gianni

  8. My husband was born in Italy, (province of Salerno), small town called Camella di Perdifumo) in Southern Italy, and came to US in 1958. So of course since I met him, I’ve been privileged to eat the very best food. My favorite is what he calls “peasant” food…Here they call it bruschetta, there sometimes their dinner). Pasta e patata, pasta e peas, pasta with anything….Spinach pie (my favorite) is what I found on this website, and I’m dancing the tarantella!…hahaha.. I cant wait to make it tomorrow and surprise him. Our daughter just this past July, got married in Italy in her grandma and grandpa’s church, in St. Maria di Castellabate, and we requested all the food that she grew up knowing as Grandma’s best cooking. I love reading your blog. Keep it up. Grazie!

    1. Ciao Susan. My family roots are in Napoli and Mirabella Eclano in the province of Avellino so not that far away from your husband’s birthplace. I grew up in Jersey with my family’s cucina povera or rustica, simple peasant cooking too. My spinach pies are a small gift to friends and family as I visit during the Easter season. Everyone scrambles to make sure they get some. Wow, I wish I could have been at your daughter’s wedding. What an incredible experience. Thanks for sharing. Buon appetito! I hope your husband likes the spinach pies.

  9. Made these tonight -rave reviews at the table. I miss my Italian NY village that I grew up in. So many odd your recipes take me back here in central Florida they know Mickey Mouse but zilch about neighborhoods and family (especially the Italian/Irish backgrounds of Long Island NY). Salute

    1. Ciao Tricia. I’m just back from Italy with a tableful of new dishes to share. I’m pleased that my recipes are well received at your table. I am continually amazed how these dishes bring back wonderful memories for so many. Now you can pass on the traditions to others.

      Buon appetito!
      –Gianni

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