Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Squeeze Me! Please Me!

Schiacciata di Cicoria, Zucca, Pomodoro Secco, Pancetta & Scamorza Affumicata
Schiacciata with Chicory, Squash, Sun-Dried Tomato, Bacon & Smoked Scamorza Cheese

I got home from work feeling miserable this evening... it happens. Tired, a little dizzy and wobbly on my feet and not quite in the mood for a marathon round of cooking. So I decided to just improvise, throw all of my left-over veggies of the past 2 nights into a pan- and let it be whatever it wanted to be...

Thanks to a trusty roll of store-bought pizza dough... what it turned-out to be was mighty delicious! And after tucking into this wonderful result, I hardly need to tell you that I felt a whole lot better!

Armed with the last few leaves of wild chicory, a handful of squash and a little imagination, I put together a simple but truly excellent filling for a simple schiacciata- or "squashed" and folded pizza... It was one of the best I've ever made! Even if I DO say so myself!


Take a look at that onion- it should put things into perspective for you here in my ingredient list... it didn't take much (as usual!) to make this great meal!

The last 7-8 small, inner leaves of the wild chicory, 1 onion, about 1 handful of squash, 1 handful of finely chopped bacon, 4 pieces of sun-dried tomato and about 1/3 of a smoked Scamorza cheese were all it took to transform 1 roll of pizza dough into something fantastic!

Pizza is great and of course you can get it all over Italy- and the rest of the world too. A "calzone" is nice too- but still, it's usually the same-old filling in there that you have on top of the same-old pizza's.

But down in the South, we make any number of different "schiacciate", using whatever we happen to have at home and wrap them in dough when we bake bread. An ages old tradition- and one that I love! Very much indeed!

I mean- who needs a sandwich- when you can have THIS instead?


So here are the ingredients, all ready to go! The onion and the squash cut into thin slices, the chicory into small chunks and the sun-dried tomatoes into thin strips.


Begin by frying the onions together with the bacon until they become translucent... and please- no added fat or oil!

Next add the squash and plenty of black pepper and a little nutmeg... no salt as you have the bacon and will be adding the salty tomatoes later.


Add the chicory, stir it in well, add a tiny splash of water and pop on the lid. Allow to steam, sizzle and wilt down for 3-4 minutes and you are almost there.

Now keep stirring until every last bit of moisture has evaporated and all of the vegetables are cooked through- a further 3-4 minutes should suffice- then set to one side to cool and turn the oven on to full power to heat up.

Once the filling has cooled, spread it out onto half of the pizza dough, leaving the edges free so that they will seal tightly shut.


 Add the sun-dried tomatoes evenly, so that they add plenty of seasoning all over.


Last, but not least- the grated Scamorza... as much or as little as you like. As you know, I don't like to overdo it with the cheese in my dishes!


And all you need to do now is to fold the dough shut and squeeze it down firmly and nice and flat.


Purely on a whim, I made some diagonal cuts into the top layer of dough- you can also simply prick the dough here and there with a fork, but I thought this looked way cooler!

The reason for doing so is to allow steam to escape during baking- so yes, the slits were an excellent way to do so.


Bake at the highest setting for around 15 minutes, then brush with a little olive oil and sprinkle with sea-salt, before returning to the oven for a final 6-7 minutes until the crust becomes a rich golden brown.

This tastes wonderful hot or cold- and yes- that makes these things so wonderful to prepare for parties and celebrations... they're so easy and your guests are bound to love them!


If you don't have wild chicory, an excellent alternative would be Swiss chard and failing that spinach... or... invent your own filling! There really are no rules... except for the rule that you need to squash it down flat before baking!


A taste of the South! And yes- after eating this... everything and everyone feels better!

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