The Cheesy Difference Between A Scacciata And Calzone

There is nothing like a balmy evening in Palermo, Sicily wandering around the alleys searching for culinary delights like arancini, sfincione, and gelato. But what you should try to seek out is scacciata. Half calzone and stromboli, the scacciata is the best of both worlds: a filled, cheesy flatbread. 

Scacciata starts with stretched, super-thin bread or pizza dough as a base. Then, ingredients are spread over the top and folded in thirds into a rectangular shape; some recipes even advise you to bake it in a loaf pan. When cut, it should look like a bready lasagna, of layers of filling alternating with dough. Who wouldn't love a lasagna made of bread? On the other hand, a calzone recipe has toppings spread over half a pizza round before being folded once over into a crescent shape. The result is more of a filled, bready pocket — not a layered treat. 

Besides the folds, the other difference between scacciata and calzones is what goes inside them. Instead of the ricotta and mozzarella that you would find stuffed in a calzone, scacciata are usually filled with tangy Pecorino Romano cheese or caciocavallo, which is a cow's milk cheese from southern Italy that is salted in brine. Caciocavallo cheese adds a different flavor profile, more akin to neutral, creamy provolone, and possesses all the best qualities of raw, stretched cheeses. This type of cheese makes a wonderful foundation for the unique, seasonal ingredients Sicilians like adding to this popular street food. 

Scacciata fillings are limited only by your imagination

There are regional and seasonal differences in scacciata recipes throughout southern Italy. You'll find this treat on any kind of occasion, like holidays, birthdays, or baptisms, but they're especially popular on Christmas tables. Some versions call for only tomato sauce and caciocavallo cheese, while others feature cheese and onion, anchovies and parsley, or sausage or cod. In summer, ingredients like grilled peppers, currants, and capers are stuffed inside. Or, one extra summery version is done "alla Norma" style, with fried eggplant, tomato, ricotta salata, and basil. In winter, broccolini, sausage, potatoes, and olives might find their way into a scacciata's filling.

If you're going to make scacciata at home, don't feel bound by any recipe. Let your taste buds and imagination be your guide. Anything you like on a pizza, in a calzone, or a homemade stromboli will be perfect for a scacciata. You can freestyle with leftover roasted veggies, meat, or fish – but it's better if you do as the Sicilians do and use fresh, in-season produce.