Sicilian Scacciata with Cauliflower is a rustic savory pie made with a super thin pizza dough and filled with cauliflower, onions, olives and anchovy fillets. A Sicilian Scacciata is also known as a “scaccia” or even as a “schiacciata”. It bakes up to have a lovely, crispy crust and it is enjoyed during the holidays, but you can make it any time of the year.
A scacciata is similar to a calzone or even a stromboli. Scacciata means to flatten or to squashed. The Sicilian "scacciata" name comes from the Italian "schiacciata", which means to flatten or to crush. You may also see it called a “scaccia” or even an “mpanata”.
Scacciata-which is pronounced “sca-chata” is not quite a calzone and not really a pizza. This is a family favorite during the holidays, but it can be enjoyed any time of the year. Scacciata (sometimes spelled scachatta) is a Sicilian recipe from Catania, where it is called a scacciata Catanese, and every town in that area will have its own version.
In Sicily you may even see it called a scacciuni. The dough is usually made with semolina flour, yeast, olive oil and water. You may be very familiar with the sausage and broccoli version. It's very similar to the Pitta Ripiena Calabrese.
This version is totally meat free for the vegetarians (and vegans…no cheese!). The filling could vary depending on the season. There are versions of it stuffed with broccoli or cauliflower or with eggplant, spinach, sausage, potatoes, and tomatoes.
Whatever American versions I have come across, the greens are cooked with lots of garlic. In the Sicilian recipes in Sicily, they typically use onion instead of garlic. I’ve seen versions made with escarole or even dandelion greens. If you’re not dairy-free, you could add your favorite Italian cheese. I would dream of making this with the Sicilian tuma cheese, but since it is a fresh cheese, it's impossible to find in the States.
This delicious rustic pizza pie is not that difficult to make. The hardest part is rolling the dough out thin and fitting it in the spring form pan. It takes a little bit of practice to get used to how the dough should be and also to carefully close the edges over the filling and make sure it is sealed together.
Sicilian Food Memories
A scacciata is one of my favorite food memories from my Sicilian dad. It has been 8 years since I lost my Sicilian father. He emigrated to American in the late 60's. Dad was quite a chef. He was always creating delicious food with mom. And especially during the holidays, dad always made something Sicilian and just delicious.
I had wanted to create recipes under my #ProjectSicilia theme to keep his memory alive. This Christmas I ended up making a few recipes that he used to make, or that he loved. This is one of those recipes that I made and it keeps dad’s memory alive when I create something Sicilian.
Origins of the Sicilian scacciata
Scacciata originates in Catania, Sicily (which is about 2 hours from my dad’s hometown). The first scacciata appeared in Sicily around the 17th century. The House of Paternò Castello is one of the most prominent historical families of all of Italy. A scacciata was created as a peasant meal, made with whatever ingredients they had on hand or even leftovers from another meal.
Legend has it that in 1763, the Prince of Paternò had his cooks make for a Christmas meal. And after that year, the scacciata became a recipe that everyone was making during the holidays. It is found in bakeries all over Sicily.
As I mentioned earlier, the recipe can vary from even town to town all around Catania (these subtle recipe variations is typical all over every region of Italy).
How to fill a traditional Sicilian scacciata?
The most typical filling version will have tuma cheese, anchovies and olives and then the addition of broccoli or cauliflower (typically purple cauliflower, which in Sicilian dialect is called “u bastardu”). The Sicilian purple cauliflower grows at the base of Mt. Etna and has a different taste than regular cauliflower or broccoli, because of the soil that is rich with volcanic ash.
Scacciata’s in America
I’ve been reading about scacciata’s in America, and I found that they’re pretty prevalent in Middletown, Connecticut. There are bakeries there even that make large sheet pans of this during the holidays (Christmas and Easter). The recipe was brought to Middletown when the immigrants passed through Ellis Island in the early 1900’s.
Legend has it that the original four Sicilian families that settled in Middletown brought the recipe from the Catania region of Sicily. The scacciata’s that are famous in Middletown are made with pizza dough that is wrapped around spinach or garlicky broccoli, potato topped with sausage and mozzarella.
Can I make this rustic Sicilian pizza pie in a baking sheet?
Yes! You could make a large rectangular version of the pie in a baking pan. Double the dough and filling, and follow the recipe but add it to a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure you make slits on top of the crust to let the hot air escape (or poke with your fork).
How to make a Sicilian Cauliflower Scacciata
The dough is pretty easy to put together. IF you happen to have a ready pizza dough you love, go head and use that.
The first step is, in large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.
In separate small bowl, stir together water, sugar (the sugar just helps activate the yeast) and yeast. Let sit for several minutes until foam forms on top.
Make a well in center of flour and add the yeast mixture; stir until combined. You could make the dough completely by hand or using a hook attachment on your electric mixer. Either way, the dough should be elastic. If you’re kneading by hand, on a clean work surface, it will take about 10 minutes of kneading.
When the dough is soft and elastic, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a clean, large bowl. Add the dough to the bowl and swish it around the olive oil.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean towel. Let it rise for about 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
Next part of the recipe is to start the filling. You could sub broccoli for the cauliflower (or even your other favorite greens, like spinach or escarole).
Cut the cauliflower into small portions. Gather all your ingredients and boil up the cauliflower in lightly salted water. You’re not cooking them until they’re mushy. You just want to soften them up a little (should take about 5 mintues), as they’ll cook more in the oven.
Set it aside to cool down.
When the dough is ready, begin to roll it out. I used a spring form pan. You could use a pie plate or even bake it on a baking sheet.
Roll out the first portion of dough and make sure it’s a little larger than the second portion of dough. Brush the dough with a little bit of olive oil.
Spoon the cauliflower over the dough (if the cauliflower pieces seem too big, let them cool down after boiling, and cut into smaller pieces).
Add on the onions, olives and anchovy fillets (if you’re using them). Sprinkle on a little salt and crush on some fresh pepper.
Roll out the second layer of dough and carefully place it over the filling. Using a pastry cutter to cut off any excess dough. Grab a fork and carefully prick around the top of the dough and also seal the edges of the dough together with the fork. Brush on some extra-virgin olive oil before placing in the oven to bake.
The leftover pieces of dough could be made into smaller scacciata's. The proper Sicilian name for them would be piduneddi. Now I did not pinch mine to look like pine cones like a typical piduneddi would look...I made mine more like a mini calzone or 'mpanata.
Now I did not pinch mine to look like pine cones like a typical piduneddi would look...I made mine more like a mini calzone or 'mpanata.
But I just wanted you to see what you can do with any extra dough. Also, I did not get a photo of a slice of the scacciata. So you can see what it looks like from the inside of a smaller one.
We typically enjoy this hot as soon as it comes out of the oven. Sometimes we let it cool down and it’s perfect when it’s a bit warm. It’s even great the next day (if you have any leftovers). In Sicily this would be taken on a picnic (or as they call it, a scampagnata).
How to store Sicilian scacciata with cauliflower?
Wrap any of the leftover scacciata with plastic wrap and store in a zipped freezer bag or an airtight container in the fridge or you could even freeze it for up to 2 months. It will stay fine on the counter for one day. I would definitely put in the fridge the next morning whatever you didn't devour!
It’s really nice the next day, as the flavors of the filling have more time to meld together.
This delicious Sicilian recipe is totally meat free for the vegetarians (and vegans…no cheese!).
Some other Sicilian recipes to enjoy:
Sicilian Scacciata with Cauliflower
- 3 ½ to 4 cups bread flour plus more for rolling
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 envelope instant dry yeast 1/4 oz. or 2 1/4 teaspoons
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups water 110 degrees F
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil plus 4 teaspoons
- 2 lbs 3 cups cauliflower, cut into small pieces
- 1 small sweet white onion cut into small slices
- ½ cup of black olives cut into small pieces
- 4 anchovy fillets cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- extra-virgin olive oil
- MAKE THE DOUGH
- In mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt; set aside.
- In separate small bowl, stir together water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for several minutes until foam forms on top.
- Make a well in center of flour and add the yeast mixture; stir until combined. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- If using an electric mixer, add hook attachment, add the flour mixture, yeast mixture, and olive oil. Knead for several minutes until dough pulls away from the sides and has an elastic texture. If kneading by hand, roll out onto floured surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic.
- Add 3 teaspoons of olive oil to large bowl. To that same bowl, add the dough and roll to coat dough in olive oil.
- Cover top of dough with plastic wrap and then cover the top of the bowl with a clean towel.
- Let rise for a least 90 minutes, until dough has doubled in size.
- Punch dough down and break in half to form two dough balls.
- If using right away, let rise another 30 minutes on counter. If using at a later date, place in greased plastic ziplock and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Fill a large sauce pan with water and add a little salt. Bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for about 5 minutes. Drain the cauliflower and set aside.
- ASSEMBLE THE SCIACCIATA
- When ready to make the sciaciatta, heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Grease 9-inch spring form pan, or shallow pie or pizza pan with olive oil.
- Roll out both pieces on a lightly floured surface – one should be larger than the pan, the other the size of the pan. Press the larger piece of dough into it, making sure it comes up the sides. Drizzle the dough with a little bit of olive oil and rub it in (or use a pastry brush to brush all over the surface of the dough).
- Arrange the cauliflower florets (if after you boil the cauliflower you find the florets too big, when it cools a little, you could cut into even smaller pieces) evenly over the dough.
- Next, add on the onion slices, olives and anchovy filet pieces. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.
- Brush the edges with oil, then cover with the remaining dough.
- If there are any large portions of dough cut with a pastry cutter. Pinch the two doughs together to seal in the filling. Go around the dough with a fork and press the perimeter of the dough closed.
- Poke the surface of the top layer with a fork every few inches.
- Brush the top of the dough with olive oil mixed with a little bit of water (you could also brush it with a beaten egg).
- Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the top gets golden brown. Let it rest for 20 minutes before carefully removing it from the pan and slicing.
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
Omit the anchovy fillets if you don't have them or don't like them.
Go ahead and add sausage to it if you like. You'll have to cook it up first on the stove. And when it cools down, add it to the filling. Cheese could be added. Use your favorite Italian cheese. Dough: You could use ready made pizza dough to make it easier. Use whatever leftover dough pieces you may have to make smaller scacciata's (see photos above of smaller versions).