Italian Sausage, Garlic, and Red Pepper Stromboli
Everyone likes pizza. Isn't that a statement of fact? Sometimes, though, it's good to switch things up. That's where stromboli comes into play. Containing all the same ingredients in a different—in this case, loaf-like—package, it's a customizable crowd-pleaser that can be prepared many ways.
Depending on your stance, making dough is either the best thing ever or a pain in the neck. I happen to enjoy the process, at least when it's simplified a bit. That's why I adore the multi-purpose master recipe from "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." I've used that dough for loaves of many kinds and also for cornmeal-kissed pizza dough. I wanted to see if it translated here, and boy did it ever.
I simply followed the traditional method for mixing the dough. There's little activity, including no kneading, involved—just a simple stir of ingredients and three-hour resting time on the counter. After the dough has had time to chill, the rest is easy: split the recipe into four equal portions, roll it out into rectangles and trim the edges to create a uniform shape. Then, slather it with sauce, fill it with a browned Italian sausage and pepper mixture and sprinkle it with cheese (I prefer scamorza to mozzarella, as it's saltier).
When filling the stromboli, line the ingredients along the center of the dough's length, leaving about one inch free from either side. Don't over-stuff it, though, because you need room to roll it up, and you don't want the filling to burst out of the loaf while it's baking.
Speaking of keeping things contained, you do need to make sure you seal the dough tightly after you roll it. This includes the ends, which most certainly need to be pinched. Otherwise, you run the risk (make that likelihood) of losing what's inside. Finishing the stromboli with a brush of whisked eggs is mostly aesthetic—it'll give your loaves a glossy, pastry case-like appearance. It also is a useful tool for sealing.
When baking the loaves in the oven, I use a moderate temperature—350°F (versus the 450°F favored by the original recipe). I also turn the loaves after about 15 minutes so they don't get too browned. This helps to get them crisp without puffing up too much—I like my stromboli a little doughy in the center.
About the author: Jennifer Olvera is a veteran food and travel writer and author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Chicago." Follow her on Twitter @olverajennifer.