I first discovered calzones several years back, which is why I added one to my first cookbook – Nourished: A Memoir of Cooking and the Arts. There, there is a recipe for Salami, Spinach and Cheese Calzone. But, since I enjoying making pizza dough, I created the above recipe. Calzones can evolve into many different dishes, some simple, others more complex. Whatever the outcome–which depends on the ingredients you add–you will have had fun with the cooking process, and naturally the yummy outcome!
I digress a bit… as a child I ate pizza regularly, almost once a week, as my Mom and step-Dad took us four kids to an Italian restaurant, where pipping hot pizza was served as our appetizer! I can still envision swimming piles of cheese as it smothered thin crusty pie crust, the crunchy edges browning and ballooning up. Therefore for the last several decades, I eat pizza fairly often, and love a nice thin crust. I always add extra cheese to what I make at home, as well as restaurant orders at Pizzerias. Nowadays, I often add pepperoni to my homemade pizza. My husband likes black olives and anchovies, so we divide things up since he’s not fond of pepperoni.
Back to calzones. Personally I love to make my own dough; I feel like I’m connecting with my dad, a former baker and bakery store owner. He died suddenly when I was ten years old. Therefore I’m really engaged with the making of pizza dough, and love the smell of it, once I mix the ingredients together and the dough rises. I love punching it down, and kneading it too; truly the whole process is fun for me!
However, if that’s not your game, you can buy a one pound package of pizza dough at your local supermarket and you’re ready to go. (Check the internet or google Martha Stewart for an easy pizza pie dough recipe. I will shortly post one such recipe on my blog.)
Assuming you have the store bought variety, I’ll proceed from that point. With a bench scrapper or a knife, cut the dough in four equal pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Roll it out on a lightly floured board or counter to about 10-12 inches, turning the dough every few inches around to the left to reach a nearly round circle. Flip it gently maybe once or twice. But don’t worry if the dough is not perfect! Don’t work the dough too much. These ingredients are for one calzone, so for all four, you may need to nearly quadruple it or probably at least double or triple the ingredients.
Ingredients – amounts may vary according to your desire
1/2 cup cooked and/or roasted boneless and skinless chicken, cut up in bite size pieces
2-3 roasted leftover Yukon potatoes, cut up small
1/4 scant cup salsa
1/4 scant cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup ricotta cheese, or half ricotta cheese, half mozzarella, or any good melting cheese you prefer. Gruyere, smoked or regular is a good choice.
4-6 scallions coarsely chopped, and if time permits, sauteed for a few minutes in a frying pan
1- 2 garlic cloves, minced and browned with the scallions for just a minute, but not with high heat.
3/4 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
few dashes of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 On one side of the round, half of it, spread out a thin layer of both of the sauces, but don’t go too far to the edge, leave an inch or so clear, vacant. preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2 Add small pieces of chicken, then the cut up potatoes, scallions, then the cheese, then the herbs and garlic and salt and pepper. Truly the order is not too important. If you want it saucier add a bit more of the tomato sauce, or not if you want to keep it more on the dry side. Don’t overfill this one side, otherwise the ingredients will squish out!
3 With one of your fingers, dab a bit of water along the vacant and clear edge. Then take the empty whole half and gently pull it over the filling, and press it down on the vacant edge or seam until all the edge is well sealed and tight.
4 Poke the top of the calzone with a fork a few times, and then brush the top of it with some olive oil.
5 Place parchment paper on a cookie sheet, spray it with any cooking spray. Add the calzone and cook about 15-20 minutes, until golden. If browning too much, add a piece of aluminum foil atop the calzone. let the calzone cool 5-10 minutes.
Tips and Tweaks
- Adjust ingredients as you wish, be creative, but make sure meats are cooked through. Try sliced cold cuts, such as salami or other lunch meats
- Use roasted vegetables, or cut up fresh spinach
- Add spices and more seasoning
- Use any kind of sauces on the side for dipping your calzone in, such as Marinara, a heavy salsa with spice or try salad dressings, like ranch or Thousand island.
- use other onions, such as shallots, yellow, white or red onions, depending on what you have available.
- cooked red, yellow or green peppers are great additions, add them with the onions, maybe a half a pepper would be sufficient, or try half a chili pepper if you desire heat.
- if you like, you can check out the way I cooked my chicken for this dish by looking at my earlier recipe for chicken that I posted in October. The recipe is titled – Glazed, Pan-roasted, and Marinated Chicken with Lemon. The marinade adds extra flavoring to the calzone.