Serves 4 to 8 (8 small appetizer turnovers or 4 large first-course turnovers)
These mini pizzas are Rome's version of the Neapolitan calzone or folded, filled turnover-like pizza. They're pretty rustic in appearance, hence their name, and are made with the same dough used for pizza bianca. The fillings range from the classic spinach and ricotta, to ham and cheese, or spicy pan-fried chicory with garlic and hot chili pepper. I've even tasted rustici with sautéed artichokes tucked inside. Romans eat these turnovers primarily as snacks or in lieu of a sandwich at lunch. This rustici recipe comes from Pierluigi Roscioli of l'Antico Forno bakery.
1 recipe Pizza Bianca dough (pages 20 to 21 of book, up to step 4)
2 heaping tablespoons flour for dusting
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds fresh young spinach, well rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 cups ricotta (about 1 pound), preferably Italian ewe's milk ricotta
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 heaping tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1. Prepare the pizza bianca dough through step 4.
2. Uncover and punch down the dough. Transfer it to a marble slab or wooden board generously dusted with flour. Knead for about 1 minute, incorporating any oil and salt left in the bowl. The dough should be slightly sticky.
3. Divide the dough into eight (or four) equal-size pieces. Dust a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pieces of dough into rough squares about 1/8 inch thick, tugging with your fingers. Place the squares side-by-side on a large work surface and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil two shallow 10 1/2-by-15 1/2 -inch baking sheets.
5. Place the spinach, still dripping, in a large stockpot. Stirring frequently, cook, covered, over medium heat until it wilts, 8 to 12 minutes. Drain in a colander, pressing down firmly with the bottom of a water glass and your fingers to eliminate as much liquid as you can.
6. Melt the butter in the stockpot over medium-high heat. Return the squeezed spinach to the stockpot and sauté, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and mince it. Transfer the spinach to a large mixing bowl. Thoroughly beat the egg into the spinach.
7. If the ricotta is runny, strain out the excess liquid through cheesecloth. Stir the ricotta into the spinach, adding a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir in the Pecorino Romano, which will also help absorb any remaining liquid, in addition to providing flavor.
8. With a slotted spoon, scoop up the mixture 1 tablespoon at a time and make equal mounds in the centers of each of the dough squares, until the mixture is used up.
9. Prepare one turnover at a time. With your fingers, spread the filling evenly over the dough surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border of plain dough all around. Lift a corner of the square and fold it over until it aligns with the corner opposite, forming a triangular turnover. Pinch firmly along the edges or press down crisply with the tines of a fork to seal the turnover.
10. Dip a pastry brush into the remaining oil and brush the surface of each turnover. With a spatula transfer the turnovers to the baking sheets. Bake for 12 to 18 minutes, until the crust is golden.
11. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Cooking the Roman Way
Authentic Recipes from the Home Cooks and Trattorias of Rome
by David Downie
Hardcover, 336 pages
Price: US $34.95, CAN $52.95
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created April 2003
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