Spicy, Stuffed Bread with Broccoli or Spinach and Cheese

Inspired from the Sicilian stuffed focaccias of Catania. The same stuffing could have been used for a traditional Greek pie wrapped in phylo pastry.

Instead of broccoli you can use spinach or any chopped greens adding lots of scallions –previously wilted in olive oil– and dill or other herbs. Scroll down to see the Variation.

 

READ more about the stuffed bread.

 

 

Bread Broccoli close S

 

Makes 8 individual pies

 

2 ½ cups broccoli stems and florets, blanched or steamed until tender

 

 

1 ½ cups crumbled feta cheese

 

 

1 cup coarsely grated Metsovone or smoked Cheddar cheese

 

 

1-2 teaspoons Maras or Aleppo pepper flakes, to taste

 

 

3  eggs

 

 

¼ of the dough for Ka’ak Savory Cookies that has doubled and is ready to be shaped

 

 

(use the rest to make breadsticks)

 

 

About 3 tablespoons nigella seeds, or sunflower seeds, sesame, poppy seeds or a combination

 

 

Broccoli cut S

 

In a bowl mix the broccoli, the cheeses, the pepper and 2 of the eggs.

 

In a cup beat lightly the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon water.

 

Preheat the oven to 375 F (200C).

 

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Flatten one piece on a lightly floured board, making a disk about a 5-6 inch. (15 cm.). Divide the broccoli mixture into 8, and add one part in the center of the disk. Brush the board with the egg mixture and lift the dough to cover the stuffing and create an oval bread, brushing with the egg mixture as you press the dough to seal on top.

 

Continue stuffing the rest of the dough. Alternatively, you can stick together two pieces of dough and flatten them to get roughly a 11 X 5 inch. rectangle. Make a line with two parts of the staffing in the middle, then lift the sides and ends to make a baguette-like bread, brushing with the egg mixture as you seal the dough on top.

 

Cover loosely with an oiled plastic film and let rest for 20-30 minutes.

 

Add the seeds to the remaining egg and stir. With the brush divide the seed-egg mixture among the breads. With scissors make small cuts along the seal, on top of each bread.

 

Bake for 25 minutes or more, until deep golden brown on top and bottom. Let cool and serve.

 

VARIATION: 

Spanakopita-like Bread: Stuffed with Spinach, Scallion, Herbs and Cheese 

 

 

For 2 loaves

 

3 cups chopped scallions –white plus most of the green part

 

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan

 

2/3 pound (350 grams) spinach leaves and most stems

 

1/2 cup chopped parsley

 

1/3 cup chopped dill

 

1 tablespoon dry mint

 

2 tablespoons dry coriander

 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

2 cups grated, aged graviera or pecorino 

 

1/2 cup aged smoked cheddar

 

Salt to taste

 

¼ of the dough for Ka’ak Savory Cookies that has doubled and is ready to be shaped

 

2-3 tablespoons breadcrumbs

 

 

Make the filling: In a heavy, deep skillet add the olive oil and sauté the scallions for 2-3 minutes in medium high, and as they start to sizzle reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan and cook the onions until soft, about 8-10 minutes, stiring avery now and then. 

 

In the meantime cut the spinach and their stems to about 1/2 inch pieces, transfer to a bowl and knead with your hands to  wilt a bit.  Add them to the skillet with the onions and toss with 2 spatulas to half-cook and reduce. 

 

Remove from the heat and add the parsley, mint, coriander, and pepper. Toss well and stir in the cheeses and mix. You can taste the stuffing and add a bit of salt if you think it needs it –I don’t, as the cheeses are quite salty.

 

Preheat the oven to 375 F (180 C) 

 

Form the stuffed breads: Briefly knead and the dough and divide in two. On a lightly floured board flatten and roll one piece to make an oval, roughly 16-inch (about 40 cm) long. The dough is very forgiving and elastic so don’t be afraid to stretch  it and make it quite thin, as it will expand quite a bit in the oven.

 

Add half the stuffing in the center of the oval and with a spoon spread it to make a line, leaving about 2 inches from the two small sides, but at the top and bottom leave about 4-5 inches dough to cover well the stuffing. Turn the dough to cover the stuffing and pinch to seal. 

 

Spread a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil. Transfer the stuffed log to the baking sheet and continue stuffing the second in the same way.

 

Brush the breads with olive oil and sprinkle well with water. With scissors mace cuts all along the seam on top of the breads, and sprinkle with some breadcrumbs.

 

Bake for about 45 min or more, until golden brown on top and bottom. Turn off the oven, open the door slightly and leave the breads in another 10 minutes.  

 

Let cool well before cutting to serve. Actually these breads taste better the next day, either served room temperature, or reheated in a low oven, loosely wrapped in parchment paper. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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