In the middle of the Aeolian Islands in the mediterranean sea, just off the north east coast of Sicily is a spectacular site. Rising from its hidden base hundreds of metres below the surface stands the active volcano, Stromboli. The Aeolian Islands are a renowned as a playground for the rich and famous. The clear waters and picturesque landscapes are a paradise for divers and sailors who can afford to stay in the exclusive resorts. But now you can have a taste of this island paradise without even having to leave home. Just follow the recipe and create your own spectacular Stromboli!
This Stromboli is the volcanic explosion of lava (pesto and cheese) that flows from the depths of a wonderful and extraordinarily tasty Italian bread. Stromboli is a perfect accompaniment to barbecues but works equally as well as the bread dish for a substantial autumn lunch, perfect for mopping up your favourite hearty soup. A word of warning though, Stromboli is named after a volcano and volcanoes can be dangerous, not only does this Stromboli explode with taste but it takes extraordinary will power not to take just one more slice. You, and your waistline, have been warned!
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Step 1: Ingredients and Dough
500g strong white flour
sachet of fast-action dried yeast
350ml warm water
small jar of red or green pesto
a ball of mozzarella, sliced
a sprig of rosemary
making the dough
Add the dried yeast, pinch of salt, splash of olive oil and enough warm water to make a dough, to the flour in a large bowl. If the dough is a little too sticky add some more flour. Start mixing with a wooden spoon but once the mix forms, get in there with your hands. once the dough is manageable knead it on a lightly floured surface, wooden is best, for five minutes or so until it becomes elastic and recovers shape. Push in your thumb and if the dough slowly rebounds you are done. Put the dough back in the bowl leave in a warm place with covered with a tea towel until it has doubled in size.
Step 2: Putting It Together
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it lightly, use your hands or a rolling pin to ease out the dough into a long rectangular shape about 1cm thick and about twice as long as it is wide. Spread the entire contents of a small jar of pesto over the dough to within 2cm of the edge. Cut the mozzarella into 5mm slices and arrage these over the pesto. Carefully roll up the dough, a light touch is required, from one end to the other. Place the bread on an oiled oven tray. Don’t worry too much about tucking in the pesto and mozzarella, the bits that flow lava like from the ends are the best bits! Rub a thin layer of oil over the surface, sprinkle with a little sea salt and use your thumb to make holes on the surface to stick small sprigs of rosemary in. Pop the tray in an oven heated to 200C for half an hour or so and let the eruption begin. Ovens with glass doors are offer great entertainment!
Step 3: Explosions of Flavour
Place the cooked Stromboli on a wooden board and slice thickly with a sharp bread knife. Grab the end bit before anyone else!
In the unlikely event you have anything left I am told it is great cold the next day. I have never been lucky enough to have this experience.
Stromboli is also the most spectacular bread you have ever unveiled at a picnic.