As I think back on my first days as a prep cook in a professional kitchen, the thing that immediately comes to mind are the 50-pound bags of carrots and onions that were my constant companions, and also my daily responsibility to slice and dice.
The resulting mountains of the aromatic veggies will be forever etched in the back of my brain, and in the muscle memory of curved fingers swiftly maneuvering my blade through their flesh.
Having said that, I also think back and see those days through clouded, teary eyes, stinging from the essential onion oils making their way into my tear ducts. Finally, someone took pity on my knife skills ignorance and showed me the proper way to cut an onion. The experience was life changing, and suddenly I wasn't just hacking away at the stuff, but quickly producing neat even cubes without the mess or bloodshot eyes.
I'm happy to share the secret with you, and therefore today's knife skills video segment is dedicated to the aforementioned wonderment.
Now that you've got your onion properly diced, it's time to get cooking! So, this week I've got a warm and hearty comfort food that is a meal all in itself.
Mediterranean Spinach Stromboli
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- Half large sweet yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz. fresh spinach
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 1 Tsp. sugar
- 3-5 slices smoked Provolone cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 1 ball of pizza dough (fresh or frozen and thawed)
- 1 egg for egg wash
- 1 Tbs. water
- Flour for counter surface
- Pan spray or parchment paper
- 1. Whisk together egg with 1 Tbs. water, and set aside.
- 2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- 3. Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sweat until translucent.
- 4. Add spinach, and incorporate with garlic and onions. Stir in marinara sauce and add the sugar. Mix well, and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- 5. Roll out the pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface.
- 6. Layer 3 pieces of provolone cheese onto the center of the dough. Pile on the spinach and marinara mix and top with shredded cheese. Save any remaining spinach mix for later; it makes a great sauce for pasta.
- 7. Fold top and bottom dough edges up over the mixture first, followed by sides, creating a nice sealed package.
- 8. Brush egg wash over the top and sides of stromboli.
- 9. Carefully transfer the stromboli to a baking sheet coated with pan spray or parchment paper.
- 10. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes, until crust is golden brown. To see if the dough has cooked through, insert a toothpick into the top of the stromboli, where all of the dough layers are thickest. If toothpick comes out clean, it's done. If there is dough residue on the toothpick, continue to bake until cooked through.
- 11. Cut into thick slices, and serve with fresh shaved or shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese.
Jessica Roy is a private chef, specialty caterer and author of foodie blog, http://blogs/lowellsun.com/personalchef.