La Cucina di Beppo Venerdì: Bignalotta

This a really simple recipe, via my late Grandma, that can pretty much be thrown together and in the oven within an hour.

Note:  The name of this is from me phonetically spelling out how my Grandparents said it.  It’s probably pure dialettu, and I’m sure the proper name is much different in mainland Italian.

Bignalotta (BEE-nyah-LAH-tah) is essentially a loaf of bread with meat, cheese and vegetables rolled up inside.  It’s very filling, and you’ll most likely end up getting full after eating 2 to 3 slices.

This recipe is definitely NOT Paleo, so if you’re extremely strict about this diet, you’ll want to stay away from this (and most Italian dishes).


1 lb Ground Beef

1 Small to Medium Yellow Onion

1 lb Ball Fresh/Frozen Pizza Dough (or make it yourself)

Mozzarella Cheese

1 package Frozen Spinach (chopped) or Fresh Baby Spinach

1 Egg

Canola Cooking Spray

Olive Oil

  • Preheat your oven to 350*F.
  • If using frozen spinach, defrost the package and drain in a mesh sieve, push as much water out as possible (important, since excess water will turn bread to mush).  Press spinach between paper towels to dry further, set aside.
  • In a greased mixing bowl (cooking spray) place the pizza dough ball in and cover with wax paper and a towel, and let rise (if using frozen dough, unfreeze it the night before in sink or fridge).
  • Peel and slice the onion.
  • Heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet, add onion and ground beef.
  • Cook both until beef is brown and onions start to become translucent, season with a dash of salt and pepper.  Remove from heat, drain and let cool to room temperature
  • Lightly grease a large cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread out the dough evenly to the edges (very important, as you’ll see).
  • Spread beef/onion mixture on the pizza dough.
  • Place spinach on top of beef and sprinkle with a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  • Take the long edge of the pizza dough and roll the whole thing up across to the opposite side.  Be careful not to rip holes in the dough.
  • Position the loaf so the “seam” is facing down on the sheet.
  • Fold the edges under the loaf.
  • Optional (not necessary, mostly aesthetics):  Crack and beat an egg in a bowl, brush a thin layer on top of roll
  • Bake in oven for 45 minutes.
  • Loaf will sound hollow when it’s done (as odd as this sounds, tap on it with your knuckles).
  • Cool the loaf on a wax paper covered cutting board (about 10 minutes)
  • Slice thickly like a loaf of bread (thumb-width), and serve.
    Should look like this when you’re done (results may vary depending on dough used).

The beauty of this recipe is that you can really put anything in as filling.  The one above is like the one my Grandma used to make (she would put sliced black olives in also).  I will say that I haven’t tried using pizza sauce, as I think it will end up being extremely messy.

Few other examples of fillings:

  • Roasted Red Peppers and Mozzarella Cheese
  • Pepperoni, Peppers, Onions and Mozzarella Cheese
  • Ground Beef, Green Peppers, Onions and Provolone Cheese

2 thoughts on “La Cucina di Beppo Venerdì: Bignalotta

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