Italian meatball stromboli

February 16, 2011 § 6 Comments

I told you I was going to make a “Stromboli absolutely packed with lots and lots of meat” didn’t I? I am a woman of my word! Not only did I make a meaty Stromboli – an Italian meatball Stromboli, if you are looking for precision – I made it in such quantities that we proceeded to eat said Stromboli for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the next 3 days straight. And loved it! Even though it was originally my craving, I actually wouldn’t have served it quite so often (at least, probably not for breakfast – oh wait breakfast was my idea, well anyway) except that before each meal Joel would ask excitedly, “can we have Stromboli again?!” And I wasn’t going to argue. I’m actually a little sad now that it’s gone. I think Stromboli and I bonded over that time – I mean, think about it, you share 9 meals with someonething and how can you not bond by the end of it?

When I determined I was going to make Stromboli, I went about it as I normally would make pizza. After all, I figured, what is Stromboli but a pizza that’s been kind of folded over and wrapped up. (Versus a calzone, which seems to be a smallish pizza folded in half. One of my friends from Japan likes to say “Japan is a folding culture” (though frequently and endearingly it comes out as “fording cultule”), but if you look at Italy’s various treatments of dough and filling, they seem to be right on Japan’s heels. But, that’s neither here nor there.) I made my standard slow-rise pizza dough, which (foreshadowing!) makes enough for two not insubstantial pizzas. I had a butcher shop’s worth of assorted locally raised ground meats, so I decided that I would make a batch of little walnut sized Italian meatballs to fulfill my “packed with lots and lots of meats” requirement, as opposed to tracking down any cured meats that would have been thematically appropriate. However, if you have some good Italian cured meats, you could certainly use those instead.

Then, because I have a near pathological need to have an embarrassment of tasty fillings, I added caramelized onion, oven burned eggplant (burned in this instance is a very good thing), and sauteed mushrooms to my tomato sauce. Finally, since a Stromboli wouldn’t be a Stromboli if it weren’t oozing melty cheese – and we don’t want anyone named Giuseppe rolling in his grave – I threw in some shredded mozarella and Parmesan.

Without really thinking it through, I pressed my dough into a single counterspace-engulfing rectangle, piled a mountain range of filling down the center and wrapped it up. Holy doughy behemoth Batman!!! My Stromboli was so massively soft and roly -poly looking, I briefly gave some serious consideration to either adopting it as a pet and taking it out for a walk or using it as a bed pillow. Joel walked into the kitchen, saw it, and was so floored by its sheer heft, his “holy ___ Batman!” statement had to be censored. But the oven was already preheated and our stomachs were starting to grumble, so into the oven went Stromboli-kong. 25 minutes later out it came looking delectably golden and crusty and filling the kitchen with fragrant steam.

It was everything you’d expect from fresh baked bread stuffed with tender little meatballs, garlicky tomato sauce, a riot of smokey sweet caramelized veggies, and gooey, nutty, pungent cheese. In short, it was delicious. And it took two spatulas to lift up each slice. Which made me very, very happy. Can you blame us for wanting it again the next day at breakfast? And lunch? And…you get the idea.

Italian Meatball Stromboli with veggies (serves 8 or so)


Or you can use your favorite pizza dough recipe – or even premade dough

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In a large bowl combine the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to stand for about 10 minutes, until the yeast is foamy. Then stir in the salt and olive oil.
  2. Add in 2 cups of the flour and stir well. Then add the rest of the flour bit by bit, stirring vigorously, until the dough forms into a shaggy ball. You may not wind up using all of the flour.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and satiny, about 6 minutes. Then place dough in a lightly oiled large bowl, turn to coat, cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator. Allow to rise in the fridge until doubled in size, 8-12 hours. (Or at room temp for about 2 hours)


If you wish, you can also leave out the eggplant, caramelized onion, and mushrooms to save yourself work. I’m sure the Stromboli would be delicious with just meatballs, sauce, and cheese – but then I will require you to eat more vegetables on the side 🙂

  • 1 or 2 medium eggplants
  • 2 lbs. of ground meat – preferably a mix of beef, pork, and veal but all beef or all pork or a mix of those two will work just as well
  • 1 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. each salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • olive oil
  • about 4 cups (loosely packed) sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of prepared tomato sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  1. To burn the eggplant(s), prick it all over with a fork, then put it under the broiler for about 30 minutes, turning it occasionally, until it is pretty blackened all over and collapsing on itself. Set the eggplant aside until it is cool enough to slice in half and scoop the flesh away from the skin (discard the burned skin). The flesh will have become creamy and roasted. Chop it and set aside in a bowl.
  2. Turn your oven to 375F. Make the meatballs by mixing together the ground meats and the egg until combined. Form a well in the middle and add the breadcrumbs, then pour the milk onto the breadcrumbs and allow to sit for a minute or two to soften them. Add the parsley, salt and pepper, and use your hands to mix everything all together until it’s well blended. Roll the meat into little balls about the size of walnuts (a bit smaller than golf balls), and put them on baking sheets that are either well greased or lined with baking parchment. Put the meatballs in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until cooked through. Set aside.
  3. In a large frying pan heat a splash of olive oil until shimmering. Add the mushrooms and sautee over high heat until they have given off all their liquid and become tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and add to the bowl with the eggplant.
  4. In the same frying pan, heat some more olive oil, then stir in the onion. Cook on medium-high for about 5 minutes, then turn the heat to low and cook another 5 minutes to caramelize.
  5. When you’re ready to assemble the Stromboli, heat the oven to 450F. Punch your dough down and divide it into two pieces (unless you want an insanely huge Stromboli like mine). On a lightly floured surface, roll one half out into a rectangle around a quarter inch (or a bit more) thick. Spread half of your meatballs, vegetables, and tomato sauce down the middle with several inches of dough left bare on either short side, and 1 inch left bare on the long side. Sprinkle with cheese. Fold the bare sides over the filling and pinch to seal. Then pinch the open ends to seal as well. Repeat with the second dough half and the rest of the fillings.
  6. Place the Strombolis on greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Use a knife to make a few artistic slashes in them to let steam escape. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes until a dark golden brown. Take out and cool for about 10 minutes. Slice and serve!

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§ 6 Responses to Italian meatball stromboli

  • Lindsay says:

    I just discovered your blog and have to say, I am loving it. Your writing is fantastic and I love the stories you include. Thanks for providing me with a nice little break in my day. A little daily appetite inducement if you will :).

  • Lise Lunge-Larsen says:

    We just finished eating this for dinner and it was amazingly delicious. I didn’t have eggplant, so I substituted roasted zucchini and peppers which worked great. For the meatballs I used mild Italian sausage instead of pork and that too worked well. Thanks for this recipe.

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      So glad you liked it. I love the sound of all of those substitutions, especially using Italian sausage!

  • Ryan Johns says:

    can you make the dough without yeast

    • Emily (Kuross) Vikre says:

      Stromboli dough pretty much has to be a yeast dough. You wouldn’t get the pillowy, soft breadiness without using yeast. If you wanted to, however, you could use a different dough recipe and make more of a quickbread type of dough leavened with baking soda/powdered, like biscuit dough, or else a flaky pie crust type of pastry. If you used a dough like that, I would make it into smaller little calzone sized pastries, instead of one huge stromboli. Or use the same filling (maybe halved) and make it into emapanadas similar to these:

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