Pastries can be savory, too: Cathy Barrow's antipasto stromboli will make you crave pie for dinner

"I think it's time for all of us in America to embrace the savory pie," the James Beard Award nominee tells Salon

By Joseph Neese

Deputy Editor in Chief

Published November 30, 2019 8:23PM (EST)

Antipasto Stromboli_credit  (Christopher Hirsheimer)
Antipasto Stromboli_credit (Christopher Hirsheimer)

It's the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and by now we've all raided our fridges for every last leftover from the biggest meal of the year. That includes enough slices of homemade apple, pecan and pumpkins pie to last us until Christmas.

When we think of pies in the U.S., we often think of sweet pies. But as master pie maker Cathy Barrow knows best, savory pies don't get the attention they deserve in this country. And so we find half of the James Beard Award nominee's new book When Pies Fly: Handmade Pastries from Strudels to Stromboli, Empanadas to Knishes by Cathy Barrow dedicated to savory pies.

"If you go to the U.K. — of course, they think sweet pies are really weird. 'I don't know why — why you want warm fruit?' They think it's a really strange idea," Barrow says of how pies are treated across the pond.

And that's why she's spreading the word to Americans about savory pies.

"I think it's time for all of us in America to embrace the savory pie. All of my pie crusts are sugar-free, with the exception of the chocolate one," Barrow tells Salon. "So they do go both ways, whether it's a butter crust, or shortening or lard, you can do them with fruit or with a savory fillings."

Barrow's antipasto stromboli from When Pies Fly makes for an excellet family dinner, the leftovers of which become a terrific lunch one day later. Lucky for Salon readers, Barrow has shared her savory recipe with us.


Recipe: Cathy Barrow's Antipasto Stromboli

Serves 8 to 10

Stromboli, kissing cousin to the calzone, is an Italian wrap, a delicious pastry filled with goodies. Most often, stromboli is made with a yeast-raised dough, more like pizza dough, but I like the way puff pastry cooks up flaky, rich, and beautiful. A meaty, cheesy stromboli is the most sensible thing to do with the leftovers from an antipasto platter, but I like it so much, I don’t wait for leftovers: I start with stromboli. Serve this at your next game day party, on the sidelines after soccer, or on the buffet table at brunch. It’s savory, flavorful, and very pretty. Stromboli is a construction project, so take your time and keep chilling the pastry at every stage.

  • 1 recipe (20 ounces, 500 g) Quick Puff Pastry, below, or store bought
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 anchovies, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 8 ounces (225 g) mix of thinly sliced, Italian-style cured meats such as salami, mortadella, soppressata, and/or capicola
  • 4 ounces (113 g) sliced provolone cheese
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) sliced roasted red pepper (about 1 pepper)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) chopped, squeeze-dried canned artichoke hearts in water (about 3)
  • 1/2 cup (70 g) sliced large green pimento-stuffed olives (about 8)
  • 3 ounces (85 g) fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
  • 3 pickled hot peppers, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cool water and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt)
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly dust the counter, the puff pastry, and the rolling pin with flour. Roll out the dough to approximately 10 by 16 inches. Use a bench scraper or offset spatula to help lift and briskly transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough until ready to fill.

With a fork or the back of a spoon, mash the tomato paste, anchovies, and garlic into a smooth paste. Spread the paste thickly down the center of the pastry, marking off a space about 6 by 14 inches. Layer half the cured meat, half the provolone, the remaining cured meat, and the last of the provolone slices on top of the anchovy spread. Scatter the red peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, mozzarella, and pick­led peppers down the center of the filling. Sprinkle with the oregano and grind black pepper over the meats and vegeta­bles. Drizzle the filling with the vinegar and olive oil. Beau­tiful, right? If the pastry has warmed during this time, pop the baking sheet in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so. It’s impossible to work with puff pastry when it warms up.

With the 10-inch sides at the top and bottom, use a paring knife or a pizza wheel to make four diagonal slashes 1 inch apart along each long 16-inch side, from the filling to the edge. Each strip will be about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Fold the pastry at the top up and over the filling and do the same with the pastry at the bottom. Now, lift the left and then the right side, carrying the pastry strips up and over the filling. Starting at the top, start braiding the cut strips, slightly overlapping a bit each time. Continue like this to create a braided effect, tucking in the last two strips. Try not to stretch the strips. Trim away any excess dough with scissors.

Get to work on the corners. Use scissors to trim the ex­cess dough where the bottom and top edges meet the sides. There is likely to be a big lump of dough at each corner that needs to go. Gather the dough at each corner and use scissors to snip the excess. Pinch the seams together. Think rustic.

After all this handling, let the stromboli settle onto the baking sheet into a nice, plump shape, about 5 inches wide and about 13 inches long. Chill for at least 30 minutes or no more than 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 425°F and place a Baking Steel, baking stone, or inverted baking sheet on the center rack to heat as the oven heats.

Brush the surface of the stromboli with egg wash and sprinkle on the Parmesan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until deeply browned. Watch, especially in the last 10 minutes, that the cheesy topping doesn’t burn; if it is getting too dark, tent it with foil.

Cool slightly before slicing. May be served warm or at room temperature.

How to Make Quick Puff Pastry for Stromboli

Makes 1 block (20 ounces, 500 g)

Puff pastry is laminated dough, a reference to the lay­ers folded into the buttery mass. Traditional puff pastry uses nothing but flour and butter, the butter beaten flat and then folded and rolled and folded and rolled and reworked four times, each called a “turn.” Here, in the quick version of traditional puff, the dough is made in the mixer, the folds and turns happen all at once, and it’s much less work. (If this seems difficult, it’s worth making real puff pastry once to see what a joy this version is.) I like to make a double recipe, and then cut it into two portions, freezing one for later.

I make puff with regular American-style butter because that’s what is usually in my freezer, but you can use lovely fancy butter if you wish. This pastry is all about buttery flake and fla­vor. In this recipe you’ll be most suc­cessful rolling and portioning if you remain obsessively diligent about keeping the dough very very cold, never never never smeary, and the edges of the dough block and the rolled dough very squared and even. Use the bench scraper to make those crisp edges.

  • 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (226 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and refrigerated at least 1 hour
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter a few cubes at a time until the dough is a collection of little bits about the size of jelly beans. It should seem dry-ish and peb­bly. With the mixer still running, add the water and lemon juice in a steady stream. Mix for 30 seconds. Turn out the crumbly dough onto the work surface and, using your hands and a bench scraper to press and shape the dough into a long firm rectangle 10 by 5 inches.

Use the bench scraper to fold the dough in thirds, like a business letter, so it is about 5 by 3 inches. Turn the dough 90 degrees and reroll the dough into a rectangle 10 by 5 inches.

Repeat the folding and rotating three times for a total of four turns. If the dough becomes too sticky to work with, place on a baking sheet and chill until firm, then resume your roll­ing and turning.

Form an X with two long pieces of overlapping plastic wrap and lightly flour the surface. Place the tidy rectangle in the center of the plastic wrap. Wrap the dough in the plas­tic and, at the same time, use a bench scraper to form the squared sides of the 5- by 3-inch block. Once wrapped, use a rolling pin to gently press across the surface of the block, smoothing the top. Flip it over and do the same on the other side. Now let it rest: Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. Quick Puff Pastry will keep refrigerated for 3 days or in a ziptop bag in the freezer for 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

Excerpted from When Pies Fly: Handmade Pastries from Strudels to Stromboli, Empanadas to Knishes by Cathy Barrow (copyright © 2019 by Cathy Barrow).  Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Publishing.  All rights reserved.

By Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is Salon's Deputy Editor in Chief. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

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