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Rossella Rago Writes About Her New Cookbook, “Cooking with Nonna: Sunday Dinners with La Famiglia”

Rossella Rago and her nonna.
Evi Abeler|

Rossella Rago (left) with her nonna.

Learn how to make Italian-American classic dishes with Rossella Rago, who also shares a delicious stromboli recipe.

I am delighted to share recipes with you from my latest cookbook, Cooking with Nonna: Sunday Dinners with La Famiglia. In it I pay homage to the customs and gatherings that bring family together from far and wide each Sunday. Sunday Dinners is filled with stories, recipes and tips from my own lovable Nonna. It includes over 125 easy-to-follow, classic Italian-American recipes, such as Escarole Pie, Penne alla Vodka, Stuffed Artichokes, Pasta e Fagioli, Chicken Francese, Cannoli Tiramisu and many more. [Also: See Rossella's baked ziti recipe.] Some of these dishes have authentic Italian roots, and some were born right here in Italian-America.

The book is organized by course and will take you from start to finish through hosting a perfect Sunday supper celebration. Many Italian cookbooks begin with rules that must be adhered to. Like, you should only pair a certain cut of pasta with a specific sauce. This is not one of those books. I encourage you to make each and every recipe your own. If you don’t have something, leave it out. If you don’t like something, change it.  

I hope you find inspiration in this book and you will want to reference it over and over. I want this book to both entertain and teach, but most importantly to envelope you like a warm hug from your Nonna. Thinking about these recipes will keep you going through the week, as you get ready for Sunday dinner with your loved ones. These Sundays changed my life. Watching my Nonna methodically prepare meals for our family through the years taught me more lessons than could ever be contained in a book. Everyone has a Sunday story. No two families honor Sunday in the same exact way, and that’s the charm of this tradition!

Here is an Italian-American favorite from the book to try at home:

Broccoli and Mozzarella Stromboli

Though Italian Americans claim stromboli was invented in Philadelphia, it’s quite possible that it was perfected in Nonna Romana’s basement in Brooklyn. The combination of pillowy pizza dough with moist broccoli and creamy cheese stuffed and rolled inside it is too good to pass up. If you’re short on time you can always use store-bought pizza dough (I promise I won’t tell Nonna!), and the stromboli can be filled with any ingredients you like. Once you start making them, I’m pretty sure they’ll become a weekend tradition.

Broccoli and Mozzarella Stromboli

Broccoli and Mozzarella Stromboli

Recipe by Rossella Rago
0.0 from 0 votes
Cuisine: Italian


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the dough:

  • 4 tablespoons 4 extra virgin olive oil

  • 4-1/2 teaspoons 4-1/2 teaspoons (2 envelopes) active dry yeast

  • 1-1/2 cups 1-1/2 warm water, 105 to 110 degrees

  • 4-1/2 cups 4-1/2 all- purpose flour

  • 2 teaspoons 2 salt

  • olive oil, for brushing

  • 1 pound 1 frozen, chopped broccoli, thawed

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 grated Pecorino Romano, plus extra for sprinkling

  • 2 tablespoons 2 garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoons 1/2 salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 black pepper

  • 6 ounces 6 fresh mozzarella, preferably a day old, diced into 1/4-inch pieces

  • 1 1 beaten egg for egg wash


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment combine the oil, yeast, and water.
  • Let stand until the yeast is dissolved, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • In another large mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt.
  • With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the flour.
  • Mix until a smooth, supple dough forms, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the dough to a bowl brushed with olive oil.
  • Brush the ball of dough with more olive oil.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in volume.
  • Punch down the dough.
  • Place it on a lightly floured surface and use a rolling pin or your hands to shape it into a 17 x 20-inch rectangle.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Place broccoli in a colander and press to remove excess moisture.
  • Pat the broccoli dry with paper towels.
  • Evenly scatter the broccoli over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
  • Sprinkle with the grated Pecorino Romano, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
  • Top with the mozzarella.
  • Use a pastry brush to brush the edges of the stromboli with egg wash.
  • Starting at the long end, carefully roll up the dough.
  • Place the stromboli on the baking sheet.
  • Brush on remaining egg wash and sprinkle extra Pecorino Romano.
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until stromboli is light brown in color and cooked through.
  • Let sit for five minutes before slicing with a serrated knife.

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Rossella Rago is an Italian-American cookbook author, host and entrepreneur. She was born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to parents who emigrated from Mola di Bari, a small fishing village in Puglia, and grew up deeply rooted in her Italian and American heritage. In Cooking with Nonna: Sunday Dinners with La Famiglia, Rossella shares traditional comforting Italian recipes derived from fond memories of living with her nonna and recipes from her travels. While some dishes in the book have authentic Italian roots, most are proudly Italian American — a distinctly unique cuisine that Rossella believes deserves as much praise and attention. For where to find Rossella’s content and books, visit her Linktree.

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