Exploring Stromboli: 12 Ways to Make the Hot Deli Treat
My Stromboli Inspiration
Several weeks ago, my friend Bill Holland (billybuc) was feeling nostalgic about a meaty-cheesy meal he indulged in years ago as a college student—the Italian stromboli. He asked me for a recipe, and I was happy to oblige. Along the way, I learned the history of this Italian dish . . . that isn’t really Italian at all.
For those unfamiliar with the name, a stromboli is a hot, filled sandwich shaped much like a jellyroll and it's 100 percent an Italian-American invention. You won't find them in Italy unless some entrepreneurial spirit is making them there to satisfy Western tastes. The sandwich has a history worth sharing; let me explain how the sandwich got its name.
In 1950 Roberto Rossellini wrote and directed the movie "Stromboli" starring Ingrid Bergman. (You might remember her as Ilsa in Casablanca opposite Humphrey Bogart). The beautiful young Swedish actress was cast as a Lithuanian war-refugee. In the Rossellini film, she marries an Italian fisherman who rescues her from a post-World War II displaced persons camp and takes her away to his village on the volcanic island Stromboli. Despite her efforts to fit in, the locals reject her and soon she comes to regard the island as a bigger prison than the one she just left.
During the production of the movie Bergman and Rossellini (19 years her senior) fell in love even though both were married to others. Two tumultuous divorces followed and Bergman bore Rossellini’s illegitimate child. If this happened today I doubt that anyone would even blink an eye, but in the mid-20th century, this was a volcanic scandal (sorry, I couldn't resist). An enterprising deli owner created a sandwich, slapped the "in-the-news" name stromboli on it, and almost 70 years later the name and sandwich are still popular.
Here are the recipes I've selected for you:
- Italian Meat: An original classic
- Italian Meatball: Premade (frozen) meatballs make this easy
- Philly Cheesesteak: Probably not as good as Shauna's (Bravewarrior) but still pretty darned good
- Barbecue Chicken: Chicken, and sauce and caramelized onions
- Reuben: Just like the famous sandwich, but not as messy
- Chicken Pot Pie: Great use of deli chicken or Thanksgiving leftovers
- Butternut Squash and Mushroom: Filled to near bursting with sweet squash, earthy mushrooms, salty prosciutto and tons of gooey cheese
- Veggie Cheese: For my vegetarian friends
- Breakfast: Weekend brunch just got more fun
- Gluten-Free: Stromboli with a delicate, flaky gluten-free crust
- Chocolate and Cherry: Stromboli and dessert all in one
- Orange and Walnut: Because one dessert is not enough. Candied orange, walnuts, cinnamon-sugar, and honey
Italian Meat Stromboli
Our first recipe is from Rachel (the Stay at Home Chef). It's what most people think of when they hear the word "stromboli" and probably very much like what Bill Holland dined on in Seattle many years ago.
Rachel makes her own easy-peasy pizza dough and layers it with Italian cold cuts, shredded mozzarella cheese, and pizza sauce to create a dish that you can have ready for your family in 1 hour and 40 minutes. If you use pre-made pizza dough you can make this Italian stromboli in just 40 minutes.
Italian Meatball Stromboli
With six boys someone is probably always hungry in the Platter Talk house. But they don't rely on fast food; they make easy, economical and tasty food that your family will enjoy seven nights a week. Seriously, look at that photo above. Have you seen anything more beautiful than that meatball stromboli?
Philly Cheesesteak Stromboli
I have a friend named Shauna (you know her as Brave Warrior) who makes "The Best Damn Philly Cheesesteak You'll Ever Eat." After you've eaten your fill, here's what is probably the "Next Best Philly Cheesesteak"—it's a stromboli cheesesteak, filled with deli roast beef, caramelized onions, and lots of ooey gooey cheese. Tiffany's step-by-step photos make it easy.
Barbecue Chicken Stromboli
These barbecue chicken strombolis are so cute. Tieghan makes single-serving sized packets stuffed with caramelized onions, deli roast chicken, Gouda cheese, and your favorite barbecue sauce.
By the way, there's broccoli hiding in there too, so you can feel a little bit righteously smug as you eat one (or two).
Stacey greets visitors to his blog Southern Bite with a "hey y'all" and explains that "In the South, we celebrate everything with food: birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and football games. It’s just one of the many ways a Southerner expresses love to another person. We feed them."
His reuben stromboli features all of the flavors you associate with that deli sandwich. Stop by your neighborhood deli to pick up the supplies—thinly sliced corned beef and Swiss cheese, crisp sauerkraut (be sure to drain it well), and Thousand Island dressing (save extra for dipping). Just before baking, he spritzes the dough with cooking spray and sprinkles on caraway seed for that authentic deli rye flavor.
Chicken Pot Pie Stromboli
Cheryl uses leftover deli roast chicken and puff pastry to make this chicken stromboli that tastes just like a pot pie. A homemade creamy sauce binds together the peas and carrots and chicken to create comfort food to the max. The hardest part is waiting for the filling to cool. (You can't put a hot filling in a puff pastry wrap.)
By the way, you could use leftover Thanksgiving turkey in place of the deli roast chicken.
Butternut Squash and Mushroom Stromboli
I have good news and bad news.
- The bad news is that this creation is more of a calzone than a stromboli.
- The good news is that it fails as a stromboli simply because you can't roll it up.
Priya has assembled a sandwich so fully loaded with gooey cheese, pesto, roasted squash, caramelized mushrooms, prosciutto, spinach, and basil that I dare you to eat it without making a mess. The cheese oozes out as it bakes, and if you’re lucky, you get an extra, crunchy cheese layer on the outside. It’s salty and sweet and ALL of the good things in between!!!! You've worked hard. You deserve this butternut squash sandwich.
Veggie Cheese Stromboli
This veggie cheese stromboli by Megan is for my vegetarian friends (and daughter). Spinach, roasted red peppers, and sundried tomatoes are rolled up to make a meal easy enough for weeknight dinner, or pretty enough for a party for a buffet table.
As I write this, I have just finished my morning breakfast of oatmeal—plain, unadorned oatmeal. You have absolutely no idea how much I really want this breakfast stromboli. It's stuffed with scrambled egg, sagey-breakfast sausage, bell pepper and two kinds of cheese.
Paola has created an amazing flaky dough that is gluten-free. How could I not include that for my gluten-sensitive friends? If you want to make this recipe, do yourself a favor and purchase a food scale. Carefully weighing the flours (almond and coconut) will guarantee a perfect dough that you can use not only for these gluten-free strombolis but also calzone and pizza.
Chocolate and Cherry Stromboli
"Taste of Home" is an online and print periodical centered on home cooking. The recipes featured are submitted not by professional chefs or restauranteurs. They come from home cooks like you and me.
This chocolate and cherry stromboli by Lorraine Caland would make a great dessert or breakfast/brunch.
Orange and Walnut Stromboli
Fifty miles south of Sicily lies the island of Malta, a European country in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, where the sun shines every day and brings out the best flavors in everything, and food/produce is abundant. Malta is also the home of Lea Hogg, culinary school graduate, food blogger, and food columnist/feature editor, specializing in food and cooking of the Mediterranean Region.
Her orange and walnut stromboli would be the perfect end-note to a Mediterranean-themed dinner.
Which One Will You Try?
Are you ready to make stromboli? Choose your favorite.
Questions & Answers
© 2020 Linda Lum