These calzones are not so hard to make and give you a good thing to stash in the freezer for nights when cooking dinner isn’t a reality. The filling is very versatile. Like ravioli, I use calzones as a catch-all for anything that is seasonal. Since we have a new supply of fresh, homemade sausage in the house, this time I used Ryan’s bulk Italian and spinach for the filling. (Look for a recap of SausageFest2010 soon!)
Makes about 8 calzones. Recipe easily doubles.
4 cups bread flour
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water
corn meal for dusting the pan
- In the bowl of your mixer or by hand, mix the dry ingredients. Add in the wet.
- Stir and knead until the dough comes together and becomes elastic, about 10 minutes.
- Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
Basic cheese filling:
1 lb. homemade ricotta
2 cups mozzarella, coarsely chopped if homemade, shredded if it’s a harder mozzarella
about 1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 tsp. salt
a few grinds of white pepper
optional: fresh herbs – parsley, oregano, or basil
- Prepare cheeses and garlic.
- Mix it all together.
For spinach and sausage filling:
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
about 4 cups of spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
red pepper flakes
- Prepare the basic cheese filling. (Don’t stir in the garlic. You’ll want to cook it for a few minutes. See step 3 below.)
- In a large skillet, drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil and begin to brown the sausage. (If you have Italian sausage in its casing, just remove from casing and crumble up with the spoon as you cook.) cook for about 10 minutes or until nicely brown. Continue to break the sausage up with your spoon. You may need to drain some of the liquid from the pan.
- Add garlic and red pepper flakes (to your liking) and stir around for about one minute.
- Add spinach and stir until wilted.
- When this mixture has cooled, mix it in with the cheese filling
Assembling the calzones:
- Prepare your area. Place parchment paper on two baking sheets. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Get out a large cutting board, scale, and bench knife. Place a little parchment on your scale and zero out. Sprinkle your cutting board with flour and dust your hands. (Remember, during this process, dough sticks to dough. If your hands get too sticky, ‘wash’ with flour.)
- Punch down dough. Grab a handful and put on the scale. You want to measure out about 5 ounces of dough for each calzone.
- On your cutting board, roll the dough into a ball. With your fingers, stretch it out. Plop a scant 1/2 cup of filling into the center.
- Fold the dough over. Place your index finger on the leftmost part of the seam. Stretch the dough over your finger and seal. Continue all the way around.
- Place calzone on the baking sheet and continue with rest.
- When finished, slash two slits in the top of each calzone with a sharp knife. Brush with olive oil.
- Bake at 500F for about 8-11 minutes. (If you’re going to eat them right away, let them brown. If you’re going to freeze them, underbake them a little.)
When cool, wrap them in foil and store in a freezer bag. Reheat, sealed in foil, in an oven at 35oF until warm. Open the top to brown for the last few minutes. Voila! This meal leaves you with zero pots or plates to wash. It’s a good thing to take to a friend who could use some food.