Scallion pie? Seriously? I’m sure that’s what you’re thinking. If this wasn’t my all time favorite dish on the planet, I would think the same. But believe me, my “Little Nonni” did it again with this recipe from her beloved Puglia. Traditionally, in her small home town in Italy, this was made during the Lenten Season, on meatless Ash Wednesday and Fridays. She carried on this tradition in American, and my mom followed the same tradition of making this only during lent. I often questioned why we don’t make this more often during the course of the year, since we all love it so much, but now my sister and I also follow the tradition of lent only. Maybe its a way to make sure that everyone comes to dinner the one night of the year that pizza de cipolle is served. And they do! If perchance they absolutely, positively cannot make it, we take pictures and send them to those that are missing. Once you taste this, you’ll be able to look at a picture and know what you’re missing. I think another reason this is only made once a year is that it is rather labor intensive. The slicing of the scallions takes a long time, as you are slicing 12 bunches of scallions (they cook down a lot) in a very meticulous manner. Well that’s how my grandmother, mother, sister and I do it. However, one time my husband and brother-in-law decided to help us out by preparing the scallions, and they took the easy way out (men!) by chopping them instead of slicing. It was indeed still delicious, but not authentic to the purists in the family. I hate to even put this idea in your head, but after you try it using the authentic way of slicing the scallions, you might want to give this other way a try. It definitely saves time.
There is another finicky rule when making pizza de cipolle. You must use two separate fry pans when sauteing the scallions. As you slice the scallions, you separate the green part from the white part and then cook them in separate fry pans. You cover the greens, but not the whites. After they are nice and soft, you combine them in one large fry pan. Don’t ask me why this is done like this, but I wouldn’t dare to change a thing in this recipe. This is how Little Nonni did it, and I believe she had her reasons for doing so.
So while you may find this recipe to be peculiar in some ways, I encourage you to try it in it’s pure form. It will take you back in time to a small village outside of Bari, Italy.
* Note: The pictures will be helpful as a visual aide.
12 inch round pan, 5 qt.
2 pounds of pizza dough divided in two
12 bunches of scallions
1/2 pound to 3/4 pound imported provolone, cut in 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups Italian cured, black olives, pitted
1 to 2 cans anchovies (while this is an important ingredient, if you absolutely hate anchovies, you can omit this)
6 Italian canned plum tomatoes, squished
olive oil for sautéing, approximately 1/2 cup
1. Cut the scallions in half, separating the green part from the white. Slice them into approximately 1/4 inch wide strips. I’m only giving you this measurement so you have an idea of how they should be. Honestly, as you will see from my pictures, they end up being all sizes. But do keep the greens separate from the whites.
2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in each large fry pan. Add the green slices to one pan, and cover. Add the white slices to the other pan, and do not cover. Cook over low heat and stir often, until soft.
3. Combine cooked scallions in one fry pan. Add the tomatoes, olives. 1/2 to 3/4 can of anchovies. Stir over low heat to combine. After 5 minutes, add the provolone. Stir until cheese slightly melts.
4. Put a little olive oil in the bottom of the round pan to lightly coat the bottom. Roll out 1 pound of the pizza dough to fit the bottom of the pan and place it in the pan. Add the scallion filling on top of the dough. Place whole anchovy filets on top, using as many as you like. Roll out the second pound of dough and place on top. Lightly brush the top with the leftover oil and bits from the fry pan (credit to my sister on this) and puncture a few times with a fork.
5. Cook in a hot 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or so. Cool and let settle for 15 minutes before serving.
**Note: If you just have one or two people who don’t like anchovies, you can take some filling out before the anchovies, and separately wrap it in pizza dough, like a calzone, brush with some oil and bake in the oven.