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.)

 

Calzone From Leftovers

Calzone with Escarole and Calabrian Sausage
Calzone with Escarole and Calabrian Sausage
Calzone with Escarole and Calabrian Sausage

I had dough left over from the Sicilian Semolina bread I made last week and escarole left over from when I made soup the other day. Both were sitting idle in my fridge for days until I was inspired — combine the two leftovers and make calzone, those delicious bread turnovers with a savory filling.

This is a version of Wimpy Skippy from Caserta Pizzeria on Providence’s Federal Hill Italian-American neighborhood. They make it with spinach sauteed with garlic, pepperoni and mozzarella. I kicked it up a notch or two.

If you don’t have any dough in your refrigerator and you’re making the calzone from scratch use either my pizza dough recipe that takes about 90 minutes to make or the semolina bread dough recipe that takes about 2 and a half hours to make. (The prep time includes the time it takes the dough to rise. Mixing everything together takes about 15 minutes for both.) You can make the dough in advance and keep it in the fridge. Just let it sit out to come to room temperature before making the calzone.

Either recipe works well. The semolina dough turns a pale yellow from the durum wheat flour.

Roast your favorite Italian sausage in a 425 degree oven, turning them once, until they are browned, about 30 minutes. Take them out of the oven and let them cool. Slice the sausage into 1 inch thick discs. Set aside.

While the sausage is roasting make the dough.

Cut the dough into four equal pieces. Form each into a ball.

Stretch each ball into a flat round about 10 inches in diameter. Set the rounds aside covered with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel so they don’t form a dry crust.

Turn your oven up to its highest setting. Mine goes to 550 degrees.

Place the dough rounds on a well-floured work surface. Scatter about 4 tablespoons of sauteed escarole on the bottom half of the dough round, leaving a half inch border at the edge. You want a layer of escarole about an inch and a half high. (The sauteed escarole recipe excerpted from my free Italian Vegetable eCookbook is below.)

Top the escarole with 6 sausage slices. Use enough so that you get some sausage in every bite.

Cover the the sausage and escarole with slices of fresh mozzarella.

Fold the top half of the calzone over the bottom half with the filling to form the turnover-shaped calzone. Line up the edges and press down with you finger to seal the dough tightly so that none of the filling leaks while baking.

Brush the calzone lightly with EVOO.

Place the calzone on a well-floured pizza peel and at a 20 degree angle slide them from the peel onto the baking stone. (If you don’t have a baking stone put the calzone on a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake on the middle shelf of your oven.)

You may have to turn the calzone once if they are not baking evenly.

Bake until the calzone are golden brown about 10 minutes.

Let them cool a bit before serving.

Here’s the sauteed escarole recipe excerpted from my free Italian Vegetable eBook.

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:80]