Saturday, 31 January 2015

Stacks of Snacks!

Stuzzichini con Cicoria, Ricotta, Pomodori Secche & Olive
Stuzzichini "Little Snacks" with Chicory, Ricotta, Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Olives


Snack time! Yes, it's nice to have little things to nibble on every now and then- to accompany a drink, or as an appetizer... and these little bite-sized kinds of snacks are known as "stuzzichini" in Italy- and take many shapes and forms.

In Sicily, more often than not, they will be little folded pizza kinds of affairs, or schiacciate- filled with a variety of ingredients. These here were a variation on that theme- as as is usually the case- filled with whichever left-overs I happened to have in the fridge.


The main "star" of the ingredients I used here, was wild chicory, which, being rather bitter, may not be everybody's "cup of tea". A perfect alternative would be Swiss chard- a second best would be spinach... but I went Sicilian/Southern Italian "old-school" and used those bitter greens... I love them!


So- as you can see, I had just a little left over chicory from a couple of days ago- and why let it go to waste? Just about a teacupful in all- you don't need much to fill up 1 packet of store-bought pizza dough as I did. I added 1 shallot, 5 sun-dried tomatoes (well, they are always in halves- but you know what I mean!), 7-8 black olives, a couple of tablespoons of Ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, nutmeg and a little olive oil... and awaaaay I went!


If you wanted to leave these rolls full-length, rather than cutting them into little bite-sized pieces as I did, all you would need to change in the preparation would be to chop up the greens before adding them. But we will get to that part in a minute...


As you can see, these little rolls are packed with flavor, but without being overloaded with anything fatty or lots of cheese- they make a nice, "adult" snack- perfect with wines or liquors.


If your greens are not left-overs as mine were, you will need to boil them first, let them cool down and wring them thoroughly dry before you get started.

Otherwise, simply chop up the shallot, the olives and the sun-dried tomatoes nice and finely.


Brown the shallot and the tomatoes in just a hint of olive oil, until they are just half done... the rest of the cooking will happen in the oven anyway. Speaking of which- this would be a good time to turn it on and to turn it up to the highest setting!


In the meantime, cut the pizza dough into 4 equal sized pieces, spread them with ricotta, as you can see in the photo (Don't overdo it! It will only seep out and make everything soggy if you do and in no way better!) and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.


Now add the greens and the other ingredients equally.


That's plenty of flavor right there- don#t over-fill them as you a.) want them to seal well and b.) need to have a nice balance between the neutral Ricotta and the other stronger and more flavorful ingredients.


Simply fold them shut, squeeze them tightly closed and then roll them over.

Brush the rolls lightly with olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt and then using a very sharp knife, score the surface to allow them to let out steam from the greens and the ricotta- so that they don't become soggy inside. Then pop them into that scorching hot oven for 20-25 minutes until they are crusty and brown. Easy!


They look a little rough- but I am sure that we are all more than ready for them! I think they look delicious!

 Simple, but tasty- and perfect to enjoy hot or cold!


As I said- you can use other greens... or even replace the greens completely with onions- that is a great version too! Fried until soft and golden and then still combined with the tomatoes and olives... so may ways to make them- and every one of them delicious! And easy! So... enjoy!

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