Strollin’ Stromboli: Italian Sausage & Broccoli Rabe by Foodie’s Chef Laura Brennan


July 12, 2019


There are varying online discussions about the difference between a calzone and a Stromboli.


And each have there ‘own story and are sticking to it’.


First, Stromboli is a place.  It’s a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the north coast of Sicily; with a not completely dormant volcano.  And It is an American invention from a famous Philadelphia pizza shop; apparently conceived to eat your pizza, ‘sandwich-style’.


And, calzone, or ‘pants leg’, like pizza, was born in Naples and meant for eating-out-of-hand while strolling. (Apparently, pizza was always eaten at the table with a knife and fork!)


The fillings being pretty much equal; it seems to be a question of shape.   If your stuffed pizza is folded over and crescent- shaped, then it is a calzone.  On the other hand, if you’re stuffed pizza is rolled and log-shaped, then it’s a Stromboli.


…And I won’t even get started on the sauce-inside or on-the-side debate.



  • Prep: 55 mins
  • Cook: 55 mins
  • Yields: Serves eight


1 pound pre-made pizza dough

All-purpose (AP) flour for dusting the table and rolling pin


1 ½ pounds Italian sausage, sweet and/or hot

1 pound (raw weight, as purchased) Spanish or white onion(s)

1 large red bell pepper

1 tablespoon fresh garlic, finely minced or mashed to a paste

1/3rd cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1 large head broccoli rabe, approximately 1 pound, separated into stems and washed

1 ½ cups grated/shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated parmigiana cheese

8 slices provolone cheese, thinly sliced

Egg wash:

1 whole egg beaten with a pinch of salt

3 tablespoons sesame seeds (hulled and not toasted)



Unwrap the pizza dough ball and set it in a bowl of flour. Cover completely with flour and let come to room temperature while you work on the rest of the ingredients.

Remove the sausage meat from the casings (discard the casings). Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Add the sausage meat, breaking it up into small chunks with the back of a spoon as it cooks. Remove the cooked sausage meat to a plate.

Turn pan off.

Bring a 4-quart pot of water to a boil to blanch the broccoli rabe.

Peel and cut the onion(s) into a small dice, about ¼-inch pieces. Wash, dry and cut the bell pepper into 4 pieces, then cut these pieces into ¼ -inch strips and finally dice the strips into the same size pieces as the onions.

Return the pan to the stove and add another tablespoon or two of oil. Add the diced onions and peppers. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are translucent. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Turn the pan off and stir in the chopped/mashed garlic. The residual heat will be enough to cook the garlic. Add the cooked sausage back to the pan and stir to combine.

To prepare the broccoli rabe: cut off the bottom inch of each stem. Lay the stems down on a cutting board and chop the stems into 2-inch pieces. When the water is boiling add 2 tablespoons kosher salt and blanch the rabe in 2 or 3 batches, letting the water come back to a boil between each ‘set’. Cook each batch for 1 minute after the water comes back to a boil. Remove blanched rabe with slotted spoon or strainer to a sheet pan lined with paper or cloth towels.

Add the blanched broccoli rabe batches to the sauté pan. If the pan isn’t big enough, use a large bowl to hold all the filling ingredients.

Mix in the mozzarella and parmigiana cheeses. Thoroughly, but gently combine. We are going to let it cool at room temperature while the oven preheats.

(Taste the filling. What does it need? More salt and/or pepper? Would you like some oregano?

A bit more spice? Then add ½ teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes and/or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves.)

Now preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Dust your table with flour and rub the rolling pin with flour as well. Gently stretch the pizza dough into a rectangle and start rolling the dough.

(Now grab the baking pan/sheet pan that you will be using… the dough should not be rolled longer than the pan you will be using. Either coat the pan with olive oil or line with a piece of parchment paper.)

Gently and persistently roll the dough into a large rectangle, about the size of the pan.

Lay the provolone cheese in two overlapping rows, along the bottom long edge of the dough.

Add all the filling along the bottom long edge, on top of the provolone slices. Roll the dough up and over the filling into a long log shape. Turn the short edges in to the center as you roll. This will keep the ingredients from spilling out the sides.

Pinch the seam closed and roll the seam to the bottom.

Gently transfer the log to the baking sheet. Snip a few vents in the top: about 8 small ¼-inch cuts,

2-inches apart, running the length of the dough.

Brush the top of the dough with a few strokes of egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

When oven is ready, bake for 25 minutes and turn pan around in the oven and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes. Crust should be brown and sound a bit hollow when quickly rapped with your knuckles. Let cool completely before slicing into nice thick wedges.

Very portable. Great for bringing to the beach!!


I have written this recipe using pizza dough that was purchased from Foodie’s Market, but of course feel free to make your own dough.