It's easy to make homemade stromboli! This one is a feast of Italian-American flavor, with Genoa salami, roasted red peppers, green olives, and provolone and mozzarella cheeses. Make it for your next gathering or potluck, or serve it for pizza night with marinara dipping sauce.
What is Stromboli?
First, let's start with a little history. The stromboli sandwich was invented in the 1950s by Italian immigrant Nazzareno ("Nat") Romano in Essington, PA. So, although it doesn't have authentic roots in Italy, you're not wrong to say that it's an Italian creation. Romano started selling square tomato pies out of a wagon cart in South Philadelphia in the 1930s, then moved to Delaware County to open the Essington Pizzeria in the 1940s.
In 1949, he began tinkering with a new sandwich, made by topping a rectangle of secret-recipe dough with meats, cheeses, and bell pepper, rolling it up into a log, burrito-style, and baking it to golden perfection. The sandwich went unnamed for about a year. Then, in a stroke of marketing genius, Romano decided to name it after the 1950 movie Stromboli, which was made infamous by the scandalous extramarital affair between Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini that began during its filming. Scandal sells! Before long, the stromboli developed a cult following and Nat moved his operation to a better space in Essington, renaming his restaurant Romano's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant. His restaurant, now in its third generation, is the oldest family-owned Italian restaurant in Delaware County, PA.
Nat would probably say my homemade stromboli recipe isn't truly authentic, since I use regular pizza dough instead of his super-secret dough (which looks like hoagie roll dough?), but I hope he'd approve of my fillings. The roasted red pepper, salami, and two cheeses are a nod to Romano's original strombolis, and I added green olives for some extra flavor.
Stromboli vs Calzone
What's the difference between stromboli and calzone, you ask? This one's easy.
- Stromboli is formed by rolling out a ball of dough into a long rectangle, topping it with meat, cheese, and any other toppings you like, and then rolling it up into a burrito-like log.
- Calzones are formed by stretching or rolling out pieces of dough into circles, spooning a mix of cheese (usually ricotta), meat, and veggies on top, and then folding the dough over the filling to form half-circle shapes. Typically, calzones are smaller — like single-serving pizza hand pies — but you can make large ones, too.
Once they're formed, both homemade stromboli and calzones are brushed with egg wash and baked in a 400°F oven until they're golden brown on top and evenly browned on the bottom. Stromboli is then sliced and served with marinara sauce for dipping. Calzones are typically served whole or sliced in half, also with a ramekin of marinara on the side.
Can You Freeze Homemade Stromboli?
Yes! There are two ways to freeze your homemade stromboli for future meals:
- Freeze formed stromboli before baking. Roll out the dough, add the fillings, and roll it up (recipe steps 1 through 5). Do not brush the dough with egg wash or cut vents in the top. Sprinkle a large piece of plastic wrap with flour, place the dough roll on top, and wrap it tightly. Use a second piece of plastic wrap if necessary. Then, wrap the whole thing in a piece of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. One day (24 hours) before you plan to bake it, transfer the frozen stromboli to the refrigerator to thaw. Take off the wrapping and place the stromboli on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the dough with egg wash and cut vents in the top (recipe step 6). Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the bottom is evenly browned.
- Freeze baked stromboli. Follow the entire recipe, but do not slice the stromboli. Instead, let it cool to room temperature, and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Let it thaw on the counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or while the oven preheats), and bake at 350°F until heated through, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Homemade Stromboli with Salami, Roasted Red Peppers, and Olives
- Rolling Pin
- parchment paper
- large rimmed baking sheet
- pastry brush
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball pizza dough (1-Hour Dough, Overnight Dough, Sourdough Pizza Dough, Neapolitan Dough, and Whole Wheat Dough will all work great), at room temperature
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing the dough
- Dried Italian herb blend
- 6 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, shredded (1½ cups), divided
- 6 to 8 slices provolone cheese
- 4 ounces sliced Genoa salami
- ¼ to ⅓ cup chopped roasted red pepper
- ¼ to ⅓ cup thinly sliced pitted green olives
- 1 egg
- super-easy marinara sauce or your favorite store-bought pizza sauce, for dipping
- Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the middle position. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a roughly 12-by-16-inch rectangle.
- Position the dough so that the rectangle is horizontal to you on your work surface. Using a pastry brush, coat the top of the dough lightly with olive oil, making sure you get the oil all the way to the edges. (Use just enough oil to give the dough a shiny finish — if you see pools on the surface of the dough, use a paper towel to blot off excess oil.) Sprinkle the dough with a few pinches of dried Italian herb blend.
- Sprinkle the dough with half of the mozzarella cheese, leaving a 1-inch border on both shorter sides and the longer side nearest to you. Leave a 3-inch border of naked dough on the other longer side. (See the video below for more clarification; the toppings will shift forward as you roll up the dough, so you want some extra space on the farthest end.) Tile on the salami, provolone cheese, roasted red pepper, and olives, and sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top.
- Starting with the long edge closest to you, roll up the dough to form a 16-inch log, folding in the ends as you go. (It's much easier to roll up than you think, thanks to the elasticity of pizza dough. Check out the video below to see the process in action.) Pinch the seams to seal, then transfer the dough roll to the parchment-lined baking sheet, seam-side down.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of cool water, and beat with a fork. Brush the top and sides of the dough roll with the eggwash. Using a sharp paring knife, cut 6 or so small slits in the top of the dough to allow steam to vent out during baking.
- Place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the stromboli is golden brown on top and evenly browned on the bottom. (Some cheese might ooze out during baking — no biggie! Just trim it off after the stromboli is finished baking and treat yourself to a delicious snack of caramelized mozzarella/provolone.)
- Remove the stromboli from the oven, and carefully transfer it to a cutting board. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature with marinara sauce for dipping.
Love the history and the recipe!