I should start by saying that I’d never actually eaten stromboli before making this recipe.  After seeing a rendition on TV, I set out to make one in the style of Stuff Yer Face in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Where most versions seem to be rolled into a pinwheel-like log, this version is more like a burrito — er, Hot Pocket.  Not quite a pizza, almost like a calzone, stromboli seemed like a perfect hand-held version of one of my favorite foods.  Then again, I’m the kind of person who likes to fold my pizza slices in half before biting into them — there’s just something so satisfying about biting into gooey cheese surrounded by crisp then chewy dough.

Sure enough, the ‘boli satisfied this particular craving. Cheesy, salty with tart feta cheese, chalk full of wilted spinach and steaming hot, if you even kind of like pizza (and who doesn’t?), then you’re going to like biting into one of these. Plus, if you have the dough on hand already, they’re easy enough to put together for a lazy weeknight dinner.


This recipe uses a your classic Italian-American, New York-style pizza sauce.  If you were hoping for a light, San Marzano sauce, look elsewhere because this one is packed with basil, oregano and tomato paste.  Even so, choose your tomatoes and paste wisely as each brand can vary dramatically in terms of acidity and sweetness so use your taste buds and adjust for the sauce for balance after it’s been processed.  A six ounce can of paste might seem like a lot, but keep in mind that this is a thick, sweet pizzeria-style sauce.  A good melting cheese is key for these stromboli.  Look to use a low-moisture mozzarella or a blend of mozzarella, provolone, fontina or Parmesan for a fantastic final dish.  If kalamata olives, feta cheese and spinach aren’t your thing, go with hand-sliced, quality pepperoni from an Italian deli for an upscale riff on the classic Hot Pocket.


For the Pizza Sauce:

  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • Red wine vinegar to taste
  • Olive oil, for brushing

For the Stromboli

  • 24 ounces homemade or store-bought pizza dough, set out at room temperature
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups, sauce
  • 4 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, or other good melting cheese
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved if desired
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled


  1. Make the sauce: Place all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend until well incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt, sugar or vinegar to balance the flavor. Set aside.
  2. Assemble the Stromboli: Preheat a pizza stone in a 500° oven for at least 1/2 hour. Divide the dough into 4 equal-sized pieces, roll them each into tight balls and allow them to rest at room temperature while the oven heats.
  3. Working on a well floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a 1/8-inch thick, 12×6-inch oblong oval shape.  Spread 1/4 cup of the pizza sauce into the center of each dough round and top with 1 cup of spinach leaves, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1/4 cup of kalamata cheese and a couple of tablespoons of crumbled feta cheese.  Working as if you were rolling up a burrito, stretch the dough a bit towards the center of the stromboli and wrap the edge closest to you around the filling and roll the whole thing up like a log — pinch the seam firmly to ensure a good seal.  Lightly score the top of each stromboli to allow them to vent slightly during the baking process.
  4. Brush the stromboli with olive oil and bake them directly on the pizza stone until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.  Remove them with a pizza peel and allow to rest for about 5 minutes before going in.

Makes 4 Stromboli

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  1. You’re certainly right about choosing your tomatoes wisely; they really can make all the difference in the world to a tomato sauce. This stromboli is beautiful and I love the combination of flavors that you chose for the filling.

  2. This sauce sounds amazing!! I’m always a fan of packing as many herbs in to pizza sauces as possible. Yum! 🙂

  3. What a great idea! This looks absolutely scrumptious!

  4. Loving this post! Great sauce and fillings!

  5. These look fabulous! I make great pizza dough and sauce, can’t wait to use them for stromboli. Your photos are terrific. I may know food, but I have a lot to learn about photography!

  6. these look excellent. i’m imagining a greek version with fresh mint, might give that a try!

  7. These babies sound intense. And nothing short of awesome.

    What is the difference between a stromboli and a calzone, do you think?

  8. Joanne – While there are many versions and variations out there, the key difference between a calzone and stromboli are in their shape. Calzones are typically folded into a half moon shape whereas stromboli are long and tubular and sometimes rectangular. The ingredients included in either model is up the chef, and some calzones are even served with sauce on the side. In the end, they both start out as good old pizza dough.

  9. This looks awesome! I could definitely do with one right about now.

    • Jo Kelly
    • October 12th, 2010

    Uhmm where are the updated recipes?? Get on it kid!! Some of us are hungry and can use some inspiration.