Christmas Focaccia Nissena Caltanissetta Style

Impanata Natalizia alla Nissena  

Mpanata Nissena di Natali 



The impanata Nissena prepared for Christmas is stuffed with baccala’, salted cod, and a unique tomato sauce. 

The classic mpanata Nissena is made with three layers of dough, but if the middle layer is not cooked to perfection, the result is a regrettable waste of efforts and ingredients. We recommend making it with two layers of dough and the stuffing in between.



Serves 8 



For the Dough 


·   2 lb flour 

·   2 oz fresh active yeast or 3 envelopes of dry yeast 

·   4 tablespoons olive oil 

·   ½ teaspoon sugar 

·   Pinch of salt 

·   Water 

Or buy 2 lb. of bread dough in your local Italian bakery and work 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the dough. 




In a bowl, mix ½ cup of warm water with the yeast. Add the sugar and ½ cup of flour and mix until it is well blended and a soft dough is formed. If it is too dry, add some water; if it is too watery, add some flour. Set aside, covered, in a warm place. After 45 minutes to 1 hour, combine risen dough with remaining flour and add some lukewarm water, the oil and a pinch of salt and knead to obtain an elastic dough similar to bread dough. Make a ball, cut across the top to allow it to rise again, cover and put in a warm place until it almost doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours.






For the Stuffing 



The Sauce

·   8 large plum tomatoes 

·   4 tablespoons olive oil 

·   2 cloves garlic, finely minced 

·   4 basil leaves, torn into pieces 

·   ½ teaspoon oregano (more or less to taste) 

·   Salt and pepper 


The Baccala’ 

·   2 lb boneless salted cod, baccala’, pre-soaked for 48 hours, changing the water at least every 12 hours 

·   2 cups flour 

·   1 cup olive oil for frying 

·   Salt and pepper 


The Other Essentials 

·   Greased baking pan (13 x 8) 

·   2 tablespoons of olive oil for washing 



The Sauce 

·   Preparation  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the tomatoes, wipe dry, place in a pan and bake for 15 minutes. 



  OreganoBaked Tomatoes and olive oilBasil


When cooled enough to be handled, peel, remove seeds, chop, place in a bowl and add olive oil, garlic, torn basil leaves, oregano (to taste) and salt and pepper. Mix it with a spoon and set on the side. 



The Baccala’ 

·   Preparation  

Cut fillets of baccala’ into pieces, approximately 2 x 1 ½ inches. 

Wipe the fillets dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

Place 1 cup of flour in a wide pan to dip the baccala’ in.

In a 10-inch skillet, over a medium flame, heat about ½ cup of olive oil.
Place 1/3 of fillets in flour to coat lightly.




When the oil is hot but not smoking, add a few coated fillets and fry them until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside. 

Continue until all baccala’ is fried. If needed add more flour to pan or more oil to frying skillet. 


The Assembly 

When dough is ready, split it into 2 pieces. Briefly knead each piece and roll one to cover the greased baking pan (13 x 8), making sure that the dough goes a little over the edge of the pan. 





Place the fried baccala’ in the dough-lined pan (after checking if salt is needed) and evenly spread the tomato sauce over it. 

Moisten the edge of the impanata with water and knead the other piece of dough, roll and place it on top. Pinch it all around to make sure it is firmly sealed.
Cut 2 or 3 slits on top to allow the vapor to escape. 




The Baking 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and wash top of the mpanata with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 

Return to oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes until light golden brown.

 Serve it hot!