Sciavata di Menfi | Stuffed Sicilian “Pizza Pie” Recipe
Sciavata di Menfi is a highly regional Sicilian dish, found just in one small village. A sort of stuffed “pizza pie,” this incredible recipe features a soft, spongy dough filled with potatoes and sausage, then topped with a tomato pizza sauce.
The recipe might seem long and complicated at first glance, but don’t worry: while the dough needs plenty of time to rise and requires a few steps to prepare, you’ll find that making sciavata is a simple process and results in a stunning, centerpiece dish!
Tips for Making the Perfect Pie
Getting the right dough consistency is key! The dough will go through three main phases: in the first mix it should have a very soft and oily feeling, after resting it will be very sticky (like a high hydration pizza dough), and after fully rising it will be incredibly light, fluffy and spongy.
The amount of water listed needs to be adjusted according to feel, as the quantity needed can vary substantially depending on the climate and flour. Add enough in the first mixing stage to achieve a very soft dough and you should be all set!
During the folding phase, the dough will be quite sticky but avoid any temptation to dust it with a lot of flour. It might be a little tricky to work with but stick with it.
Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make Sciavata here:
Makes: One 9-inch pie
Cook Time: Up to 5 1/2 hours, largely unattended
For the dough, you will need:
4 1/8 cup (500g) semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp (5g) active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups (400ml) water, adjusted (see below)
3 1/2 tbsp (50g) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tsp (10g) salt
For the fillings and toppings, you will need:
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
1/4 large onion, diced
20 oz. (550g) russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Italian sausages, casings removed
Fresh black pepper
1/2 cup (125g) tomato purée
You will also need:
Bench scraper (optional, but highly recommended)
Deep 9-inch pie tin
Sharp paring knife
Combine the semolina flour and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add about half of the water while mixing it into the flour by hand. When a rough dough has formed, add the olive oil and salt and continue to knead in the bowl. As the oil incorporates into the dough, keep adding a little more water at a time until you have a dough that is very soft, almost gooey. Keep in mind that the amount of water needed can vary substantially depending on the conditions, so don’t be surprised if you need more or less than the given amount.
Continue to knead the dough in the bowl for 10-15 minutes so that the oil is very well-incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 1 hour at room temperature.
Transfer the dough to a clean surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. It will be very sticky after resting, but we want to keep it that way! You can very lightly dust the dough with a little bit of flour to make it more manageable, but keep the added flour to an absolute minimum.
Take one edge of the dough and fold it over on top of itself. Using a bench scraper will make this process a lot easier with such a sticky dough, as you can scoop it up from the bottom without your fingers. Fold an opposing edge inward next. Repeat this process until you have folded the dough in half about 12 times in different directions.
Brush the mixing bowl with olive oil and transfer the dough back into it. Cover with plastic wrap again and let it rise until the dough has doubled in size—about 2-3 hours.
While the dough rises, you can prepare the filling. Place the olive oil and diced onion into a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion until it is tender and slightly transparent. Add the sliced potatoes and, using your fingers to break it up into a crumble, add the sausage as well. Sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are slightly tender but not completely cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste as the potatoes cook. Transfer everything into a large bowl.
Mix the potatoes with 1/4 cup of tomato purée and set aside for later. Separately, mix the remaining tomato purée with a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste, in order to make a simple pizza sauce. Set this aside as well.
When the dough has risen, preheat an oven to 480 degrees F (250 C) and liberally brush a deep 9-inch pie tin with olive oil.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and, using a bench scrape or knife, cut 1/3 of it off and set this portion aside for the moment. Use your hands to press the remaining dough out into a large circle. The dough should be quite spongy and yielding. Work from the center outward until the circle of dough is large enough to cover the pie tin with some overhang. Drape the dough into the tin and gently press it into the corners so it fills the dish and covers the sides completely. Use a knife to trim the overhang away.
Fill the pie dough with the potato and sausage mixture. Then, press out the remaining dough portion until it is large enough to cover the pie. Drape it on top, trim them overhang flush with a knife, and roll the edges inward with your fingers to seal the bottom and top together.
Using a spoon, spread the entire top of the pie with a thin, even layer of the simple pizza sauce you made earlier. Sprinkle with dried oregano, and bake the pie for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 410 degrees F (210 C) and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving warm.
Want to try a the original Sicilian "Pizza Pie?" Check out our recipe for Sfincione di San Vito, the ancestor of Chicago Deep Dish Pizza! If you enjoy this recipe, you might be interested in the Sardinian "Panada" Pot Pie!