Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home". She belongs to Cook's Recipe Testers for "Cook's Illustrated".
A Great Alternative to Pizza for the Home Chef
Have you ever longed for a homemade pizza as delicious as those from local pizzerias? Unfortunately, results for home chefs are often inconsistent. Common issues include soggy crust, uncooked middle, dry topping, overly gooey cheese, and other texture issues. Although a pizza stone can improve your results, the main problem boils down to the oven. Pizzeria ovens are specially designed to cook evenly and at high temperatures.
So is the situation hopeless? Far from it! Next time you're in the mood for homemade pizza, why not try a calzone? Basically a pizza turned onto itself, these tasty pockets call for ingredients very similar to those used in pizzas. But unlike pizza, a calzone requires a lower temperature and longer baking time. In short, the home chef can easily turn out crusty calzones they'll be proud to serve to family or guests.
Of course, the final result has a lot to do with the ingredients you choose. So splurge on high quality ingredients: pepperoni sliced at the deli counter instead of pre-packed, high quality sausage and fresh veggies. If you don’t have time to make the dipping sauce, opt for a jar of gourmet spaghetti sauce.
Calzones are so versatile that you can customize them with unique fillings. Experiment with individual-sized calzones and allow children to choose their own ingredients. Try them and we think you'll agree: calzones are a great alternative to pizza for the home chef.
Easy Cheesy Calzones
- Since calzones require a lower cooking temperature and longer cooking time, be sure to leave them in the oven long enough to cook the filling.
- For crispy (not soggy) calzones, avoid overly moist ingredients.
- Authentic calzones don't include pizza sauce baked in with the filling.
- Experiment first with smaller calzones. They're easier to handle and bake.
- Roll out the dough no less than 1/4 inch thick. Make sure it's evenly thick, too, so the calzone doesn't break and ooze filling.
- So the calzone doesn't open during baking, be sure to wet edges of the dough and carefully pinch them together. You could also use a fork to seal the calzone.
- Try brushing calzones with olive oil instead of egg wash for a different flavor.
- Calzones are best when served piping hot from the oven, but they can still be enjoyed the next day. To reheat, slide into a 400 Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes.
- Freeze well-wrapped calzones up to 3 months. To reheat: place two inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Baking stones ensure even browning of calzones and crispy crust.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- 2 pounds frozen bread dough, thawed (or dough made in a bread machine)
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 12 ounces bulk italian sausage, crumbled, cooked and drained
- 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 12 ounces ricotta cheese
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 eggs, divided (one for final egg wash)
- On a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 2 pieces for two large calzones. (8 pieces for individual calzones.)
- Using a rolling pin, roll out two 10-inch circles.
- Combine ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread half of each circle with ricotta cheese, italian sausage, veggies and mozzarella cheese.
- Brush edges of dough with water. Fold dough over filling and press edges with a fork or fingers to seal.
- Carefully place calzones on a greased baking sheet. Beat one egg and one Tablespoon of water until frothy. Brush both calzones with egg wash.
- Bake in preheated 400 Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 1/2 cups flour, unbleached
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Place ingredients in bread machine pan and process according to manufacturer's instructions.
Garlicky Dipping Sauce
- 1 pound Roma tomatoes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon each dried oregano and basil (or use fresh herbs)
- Pour 1/2 cup of water into a medium skillet. Slice tomatoes in half and place cut side up in the skillet.
- Allow tomatoes to simmer for a couple of minutes, until skins loosen.
- Remove skins from tomatoes and transfer to a blender. Blend for just a few seconds for a chunky tomato sauce.
- Pour olive oil into medium skillet on medium-low heat. Sauté onion and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add processed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, salt and spices to sauteed veggies. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
- Serve warm tomato sauce with calzones.
This basic recipe is just a starting point. Experiment with other delicious fillings:
- ham and provolone cheese
- spinach, roasted red pepper and ricotta
- pepperoni, mushroom and mozzarella
- grilled eggplant, red pepper, pinenut and goat cheese
- sauteed zucchini, black olive, baby portabella and leek
- barbecued chicken, bell pepper and red onion