Whether it’s a good French baguette or hefty Italian bastone, I love a good loaf of bread, and don’t need any extra incentives to eat more. But this one is irresistible and can weaken my resolve to consume fewer carbs. It’s an easy-to-make stuffed bread treat that’s a kissin’ cousin to pizza. Your family and friends will love it (unless they’re gluten intolerant). With a glass of wine and a side salad, it was dinner for me and my husband last night. We could have eaten the whole thing by ourselves, but we stopped before we became truly gluttinous. You don’t have to make it in a Christmas tree shape, but that certainly does make it festive for the holidays. You could simply make it in a circle or wreath shape, or in a square format. I started out with frozen pizza dough – about a one pound package. Of course, you can make your own dough, if you’ve got the time and inclination. But there’s enough going on at this time of year, that I take short cuts when I can find them.
Start out by rolling or stretching the dough to a rectangle that’s about 6 inches by 16 inches. Have cooked sausage (1 large piece of Italian sausage, with the casings removed — crumbled and cooked in olive oil.) and some shredded mozzarella cheese nearby. Cut the dough into 16 pieces. You’ll need 15 for the actual tree, and one for the stump.
Press the piece of dough into a square shape and into the center of each piece of dough, place a small bit of the sausage and some of the cheese. Pinch the ends together firmly to seal. Make sure none of the filling is visible or it will leak onto the baking sheet.
Arrange the balls into a Christmas tree shape, pinched ends underneath, with the stump (which you have also filled with cheese and sausage) at the bottom.
Brush with beaten egg and bake in the oven. As soon as it comes out of the oven, brush with the garlic-infused olive oil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, parsley and bits of tomato to decorate. Serve immediately.
Bet you can’t eat just one!
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- 1 uncooked pizza dough (about 1 pound)
- mozzarella cheese, about 2 cups shredded, or 1 large ball
- 1 cup cooked Italian sausage, crumbled and cooled
- 1 egg, beaten
- ⅛ cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- a few sprigs of parsley, minced
- marinara sauce, optional
- Roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle, about 6 inches by 16 inches long.
- Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cut each rectangle into 8 pieces.
- Flatten out each piece of dough into a square shape, then holding a piece of dough in your hand, stretch it a bit to accommodate a piece of sausage and a bit of the mozzarella cheese.
- Pinch the dough together, enveloping the filling inside the dough, shaping it into a ball.
- Place on a silicon baking mat, parchment paper or on a greased cookie sheet.
- If you're making a tree shape, you'll need 15 pieces, plus another one for the stump.
- If you're making a circle shape, make as many as will fit on your cookie sheet.
- After filling the dough, place on the Silpat mat, with the pinched side facing the baking sheet, making sure the dough balls touch each other slightly.
- Beat the egg and brush a little of the beaten egg over the dough balls.
- Bake in a preheated 15 to 20 minutes or until golden.
- While the dough is cooking, gently saute the garlic cloves in the olive oil.
- Drain the garlic, retaining the oil.
- Brush the oil over the dough, and sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese and parsley.
- Decorate with bits of chopped tomato or roasted peppers.
- Serve immediately, with marinara sauce, if desired.