Who invented pizza?
When John and I were in Split, Croatia, we were told pizza was invented in Split. [Editor’s note: several countries, including Spain and Italy, make the same claim.]
We stayed at the lovely Le Meridien Lav, where we planned to take a cooking class. However, it was low season so no classes were offered, but Le Meridian Lav’s Chef Tomislav arranged to have one of his helpers, Snježana Matijaš, show us how to make a local favorite, soparnik, two-crust pizza filled with Swiss chard.
Chef Tomislav insisted that pizza originated in Split, Croatia. “Pizza was making something out of nothing,” he said. He told us in AD 305 when Roman Emperor Diocletian became ill he abdicated and retired to Split. Today, parts of Diocletian’s palace built in the 4th century are still in use, making it one of the best-preserved Roman sites. In fact, this UNESCO site is the living pulsating heart of the city.
With Diocletian came many Romans who enjoyed Croatian soparnik. They took the recipe back to Rome where it, over the years, turned into pizza as we know it today.
Here’s Chef Tomislav’s spornik recipe courtesy of Le Meridien Lav. www.lemeridienlavsplit.com
This double-crusted Croatian pizza makes a great appetizer or vegetarian dish.
1 lb Swiss chard (can substitute other greens)
¼ (one-fourth) head of small cabbage
3 tbsp olive oil
Dash sea salt
12 oz cold water
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp olive oil
1 lb all-purpose flour
4 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
Remove stems, including the tough stem that runs down the leaf, from Swiss chard and julienne. Refrigerate it overnight to dry it. It must be really dry for the pie.
The next day, mix Swiss chard, cabbage, oil, sea salt, and add a bit of sugar.
To make the dough, add water, salt and olive oil in the flour and knead until well mixed. Let it set for a 45 minutes.
Split the dough in half. Lightly flour the rolling pin and dough. Roll the dough to a size of a baking tin; cover the dough with the Swiss chard. Roll the second half of the dough and cover Swiss chard. Pinch the edges. Bake at 425 for 20 min or until the crust is light brown. Mix the oil and garlic and brush the mixture on the top. Cut the pie into diamond shapes and serve.
— Sandra Scott, RFT Contributor