Spinach, Ricotta, and Sausage Imapanata













This rustic pie is made with pizza dough and filled with spinach, sausage, and ricotta cheese.  It’s similar to a calzone or stromboli. Sicilians also call it a scacciata which means squashed or flattened because of its shape.  I rated this recipe as difficult because of the technique involved in stretching and assembling the dough.  An easier alternative is to purchase ready-made refrigerated pizza crust that is pre-rolled.

(Impanata di Spinaci, Ricotta, e Salsiccia)

Difficulty Rating: Difficult
Makes 4 large or 16 small servings.

For the Dough (or 2 ready-made refrigerated pizza crust):
1 cup lukewarm water, divided
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups bread flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon +2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large egg, beaten
Flour, for dusting

For the Filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (9 ounce) package fresh spinach leaves
1 pound bulk Italian sausage or 1 1/2 cups diced ham
15 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg (optional)

MAKE THE DOUGH:  Combine the sugar and yeast in a small bowl.  Stir in 1/4 cup water.  Let sit until foamy, about 8 minutes.  Using a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine flour and salt for 1 minute on low speed.  Change to dough hook attachment.  Add remaining water, yeast mixture, and oil, and combine on low speed until dough comes together.  Adjust mixer speed to medium and continue mixing for 6 minutes until dough is elastic and comes away from the sides of the bowl.  Transfer dough to a medium bowl greased with olive oil and turn to coat with oil so that a crust doesn’t form.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish cloth and let rise in a warm place approximately 1 hour until double in bulk.

MAKE THE FILLING:  Heat oil, over medium-low heat, in a covered saute pan.  Add spinach and cover with lid.  Cook approximately 5 minutes, until spinach is tender and wilted.  Place in a colander to drain.  When spinach is cool to touch, squeeze out the excess liquid with your hands or the back of a spoon.  The spinach should be fairly dry.

Using the same sautè pan, lightly coat with oil and brown sausage over medium heat, breaking into pieces with a fork while cooking.  Drain sausage in colander, press lightly with the back of a spoon to get some of the juices out.  Let cool for 15 minutes.

Drain any liquid from the ricotta.  Combine the spinach, sausage, ricotta, mozzarella, grated cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

ASSEMBLE THE IMPANATA:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously grease a 13-inch pizza pan or deep-dish pie pan.  Divide the dough in half.


Place one half of dough in the middle of the pan.  Spread the dough out a little and drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil on top.  Using a gentle stretching motion, spread the dough out to the sides of the pan being careful not to make any tears. The dough will retract at first but will relax eventually.


Spoon filling in the middle of the dough and spread within 1 1/2-inches of the edge.  Wet fingers with a little water lightly wet the edges of the dough.  This will help the top and bottom dough to adhere.  It’s important to patch any holes or tears on the bottom crust.


Using a lightly floured board, roll out remaining dough into a 13-inch circle.  Lift with rolling pin and carefully place on top of the filling.  Pinch the top and bottom edges of dough together to seal.


Lightly pull the edges out, folding the crust over once or twice.  Crimp edges as you would a pie crust.


Brush top with beaten egg and cut several slits on top.  Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes.  Using a spatula, carefully slide the impanata from the pan directly onto baking rack and continue to bake 5 minutes longer, until bottom is lightly browned.  Slide the impanata back onto pizza pan and remove from oven.

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