My inspiration for the recipe creations featured on H+H come from multiple places. But some of my favorite dishes come about by just eating at restaurants. And today's recipe is just exactly that. My Mountain Man and I were watching a new special series called "Best Ever" on the Food Network, and the first episode revolved around the best pizzas around the country. To be honest, all of them looked amazing, and even Antico Pizza from Atlanta made the top ten (yay). However, one specific idea stole my heart and practically peer pressured me to try and recreate it the next day. It hails from Pizza Vetri in Philadelphia and they are known for their pizza "rotolos". This signature dish is comprised of pizza dough, mortadella, ricotta cheese, and a topping of pistachio pesto. Think of it like a hybrid, combining the technique of making cinnamon rolls, but with the ingredients of a calzone. I started the process by making a batch of my favorite pizza dough recipe, letting it proof overnight, and then separating it into three equal dough balls. Next, roll out the pizza doughs into rectangles (try to use minimal flour because we want them to stick together), and then stack all of the dough rectangles on top of one another and, using the rolling pin again, make sure the layered dough is rolled out to about ¼ - ½ inch thick and rectangular in shape. This process is very similar to making homemade, laminated croissant dough, so that it creates a flakier pizza dough once it is baked.
After your dough has finished being prepped, it's time to add the yummy fillings in layers of sliced mortadella, followed by spreading on some homemade creamy ricotta cheese. Season the top of the ricotta with a little bit of kosher salt + cracked pepper and finish it all up with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. All you have to do now is roll this bad boy up into a long log.
Now that all the fillings are added to the mix, roll the dough (making sure to keep it as tight as possible) and pinch the seam, so that the ricotta cheese will not melt out onto your baking sheet. You can decide for yourself how thick/big you want each individual rotolo to be, but we decided to make eight rolls. Place the finished rotolos onto silpat-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until they have reached a golden brown color on the outside, as well as some melting of the ricotta cheese, while also making sure that the center of the dough is completely cooked through (we don't want any gummy, unbaked pizza dough here). Remove them from the oven and top the rotolos with some homemade rustic pistachio pesto while they are still warm. I loved the texture of the pesto because it had such a nice crunch from the toasted pistachios, but was also just as aromatic as a blended pesto. Well, I'm glad to report that these rotolos turned out fabulous and we will most certainly be making these again in the near future. So, I think y'all should give it a try!! If you don't want to make every component by scratch, like I did, you could easily go pick up the pizza dough, ricotta, and pesto at your local grocery store. It's extremely versatile and could also be used with any type of charcuterie, creamy cheese, and Italian based sauce!! Enjoy :)
For the Pizza Dough:
3 ¾C AP Flour (plus a little extra for when you roll out the finished dough)
2t Sea Salt + 1t Sugar
¼t Active Dry Yeast
1 ½C Water
For the Homemade Creamy Ricotta:
3C Whole Milk
1C Heavy Cream
½t Kosher Salt
3T Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
For the Rustic Pistachio Pesto:
1C Shelled Pistachios (½C should be coarsely chopped & ½C should be finely chopped)
2C Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped
3-4 Larges Cloves of Garlic, Finely Minced (it can also be grated or pressed)
½t Dried Red Pepper Flakes
2T Fresh Lemon Juice (also zest the lemon before juicing it, and add it to the mixture)
2T White Balsamic Vinegar + 1T Honey (you can add more honey, if you like it sweeter like me)
¾C Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste
For the Pizza “Rotolos”:
Prepared Pizza Dough (the dough should be separated into three balls of dough)
1lb of Sliced Mortadella
Prepared Creamy Ricotta Cheese
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper, To Taste
Freshly Grated Parmesan (enough to cover the ricotta or to your preference)
Prepared Rustic Pistachio Pesto
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with a Silpat. Set it aside.
2. For the Pizza Dough: Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 1.5 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, preferably 18 hours (but anywhere between 12-18 hours would work as well). Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.
3. For the Homemade Creamy Ricotta Cheese: Pour the milk, heavy cream, and salt into a 3Q non-reactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fryer thermometer. Heat the milk to 190 degrees, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Remove from heat and add in the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice (gently + slowly). Let the pot sit undisturbed for about 5 minutes. Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. After an hour, you should have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable, but a bit firmer (similar to the consistency of cream cheese). This ricotta will firm as it cools. Use the ricotta right away for maximum flavor + creaminess.
4. For the Rustic Pistachio Pesto: Place the shelled pistachios into a medium-sized sauté pan over medium heat (do not add oil). Toast the pistachios for 2-5 minutes until they are lightly browned + being to release a nutty fragrance. Coarsely chop half of the toasted pistachios, so that you’ll have some amazing texture when you spoon it over the tops of the “Rotolos”. Place the coarsely chopped pistachios into a mixing bowl and set it aside. In the bowl of a food processor, add in all of the fresh basil leaves, the 4 large cloves of garlic, the remaining half of the toasted pistachios, fleur de sel, + fresh cracked pepper. Pulse this mixture until every ingredient finely chopped/minced, but without turning it into a puree. You want this mixture to remain rustic + slightly chunky in texture. Using a rubber spatula, scoop out the minced basil-garlic-pistachio and put it into the bowl with the coarsely chopped pistachios. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, and honey. Then mix it until the honey completely dissolves into the lemon juice + white balsamic vinegar. Add this liquid mixture to the bowl of the prepped pesto components and stir to combine. Lastly, pour in the olive oil and gently stir until you reach a cohesive mixture. Season it with salt, pepper, and sugar to taste (if needed). Set this pistachio pesto aside until you begin assembling the “Rotolos".
5. Preparing & Assembling the “Rotolos”: After your dough as rested for one hour, it is time to layer the pizza dough for optimal texture. Take one of the pizza dough and roll it out to about ¼inch thick, and follow this process with the two remaining dough balls. Once they have been rolled out, stack the three rolled pizza dough balls on top of one another. Using the rolling pin again, roll the pizza dough stack out until the layers become one and also reach a thickness of ¼ to ½ inch thick (by stacking the dough and rolling it into one rectangle, you will create a flakier “rotolo”, similar to how a croissant is made with its’ buttery layers). Now, it’s time to assemble the “rotolos”. Evenly lay out the slices of Mortadella all over the pizza dough, followed by spreading (or using a dollop method) all of the ricotta on top of the Mortadella. Try to make sure that all of the dough is completely covered, but also leaving about ½-1inch borders, so that the ricotta cheese will not spill out. Sprinkle the top of the ricotta with some salt, pepper, & freshly grated Parmesan for extra seasoning. Lightly press down the grated Parmesan into the ricotta, in order to keep it from falling out. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the Mortadella + ricotta filled dough in a neat line towards you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam of the rotolo to seal it. Cut the rotolo into rounds (you can do as thick or thin as you like, we ended up making 8 rotolos total). Place the rotolos onto your prepared silpat-line baking sheet. Sprinkle with the tops of the rotolos with a little more salt & pepper, if you like.
6. Baking the “Rotolos”: Place the baking sheet into your preheated oven and bake the rotolos for 25-35 minutes (depending on the heat of your oven, the time can vary depending on how thick you cut them, so you have to watch them closely). You can tell that the rotolos are done when they have puffed up, reached a golden brown color, and the ricotta has begun to ooze out a little. Also, it is important that you allow the rotolos enough time in the oven, so that the middle of the rolls are completely cooked through and no raw dough remains in the center.
7. Serving the “Rotolos”: When the rotolos are done baking, generously spoon some of the rustic pistachio pesto over the tops of the rolls until the pesto cascades over and drips down the sides. Garnish the rotolos with a mound of freshly grated Parmesan and eat while they are still warm!