The Organised Author

Schiacciata Recipe




Schiacciata

The schiacciata (“crushed” or “squashed”) is a baked Sicilian dish made with a vegetable filling. It’s a bit long to prepare, but totally worth it. I’ll follow the most classic recipe, but the filling can be anything you like.

Ingredients:
For the dough:
500 g of high grade flour
Warm water (more or less 500 ml)
1 bag of dried yeast or 25 g of fresh yeast + 4 teaspoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
30-50 ml of extra virgin olive oil

For the filling:
Two large broccoli florets
500 g of spinach
5 big potatoes
Leek or onion
Garlic
Basil
Salt/pepper
Green olives
Tomato paste
Turmeric
Others optional: cheese, mincemeat.

Start with the dough. Warm the 500 ml of water and pour some in a ceramic or glass bowl with the yeast and the four teaspoons of sugar. I always activate the yeast first, even when I use dry yeast, which supposedly wouldn’t need any activation, but I had some bad surprises, so I want to see the foamy, beige froth first. I leave the bowl in the over set on “low” (around 37 degrees Celsius). After 10/15 minutes, you’ll have a nice foam, if the yeast is active. If not, discard it and start again.

While the yeast is in the over, mix the flour with the salt and the oil in a glass bowl. I always use glassware because I don’t trust plastic, especially with warm food. (https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cookware-plastics-shoppers-guide-to-food-safety#1)

Add some water, but not too much. Add the yeast slowly (if you’re too fast, you’ll risk ruining the yeast) and mix gently with a fork. If possible, don’t work close to an open window unless it’s summer. A cold draught can kill the yeast, and the dough won’t rise, and dough that doesn’t rise is the saddest thing on Earth.
Add more water. How much? The amount depends on the brand of flour you use, on the alkalinity of the water, on the temperature, the air humidity etc…

I can tell you this, with 500 g of flour, I normally use around 400 ml of water, sometimes less. But even if at this stage the dough results a bit sticky, don’t worry. Let it grow and add more flour after it has risen.
Give to the dough a ball shape, cut a cross on its top, cover with a clean towel, and set it to grow in a dry and warm place. I use the oven again, set on low.

Alternatively, for a very easy to digest dough, put it in the fridge. It’ll grow very slowly (it’ll take about 4 days). On the fourth day, take the dough out of the fridge, let it stay for a couple of hours at a warm temperature before starting to roll out the dough.  

While the dough is growing, prepare the filling.

Chop the leek. You’ll need a lot of it, especially if you want to add mincemeat, put it in a frying pan, add a tablespoon of olive oil and cook gently. I always add turmeric (2 teaspoons + half a glass of water) because I love its bitter/nutty taste and it’s a powerful, anti-inflammatory spice, and a tablespoon of tomato paste.   I add turmeric even when I cook rice or quinoa. It gives them a nice yellow colour and a nutty flavour.
Cut the broccoli into small pieces (this is the most boring part), wash the spinach leaves and chop them, add the broccoli and spinach to the leek, add the green olives, salt and pepper, and let everything cook on low flame.

Meanwhile, peel the potatoes. I always put them in the microwave for a few minutes before cooking them properly, so they become tender and easier to cook. Put some chopped leek in a frying pan, add the turmeric + tomato paste, cook the potatoes until they’re golden and crispy. When everything is soft and ready, mix the broccoli, spinach, olive with the potatoes.
If you want to add mincemeat, I’d suggest cooking it separately from the vegetables that release too much water and the meat will take a boiled-meat taste. So stir-fry the meat in another frying pan, and then mix all the filling.

When the dough is ready (3-4 hours), preheat the oven to 180 degrees C static, or 150 fan oven.
Cut the dough in two (one piece should be bigger than the other). Fold a baking tray with baking paper. Roll the bigger piece of dough and cover the bottom of the tray with it (over the baking paper.) The rolled-out dough needs to reach the edges of the tray.
Fill it with the vegetables. This is the moment to add cheese if you want to. I’d suggest hard cheese like emmental or cedar because mozzarella releases too much liquid and will make the bottom of the schiacciata too soggy.

Roll out the smaller piece of dough, cover the filling with it, seal the edges, and press (that’s why it’s called schiacciata). The top should be as even as possible, so you have to squash it to distribute the filling. Use a fork to pierce the top (to let the steam escape while the schiacciata is in the oven, or it’ll be soggy).

Put the schiacciata in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden. Before serving it, brush the top with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and water, then sprinkle with oregano (the oil and the water will prevent the crust from becoming too hard.)
Serve and enjoy!
Book to go with schiacciata: a nice crime novel by Andrea Camelleri (Andrea is a male name in Italian, just in case you were wondering.)
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/69366.The_Snack_Thief?ac=1&from_search=true

 

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