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Vegan Eggplant Calzone Inspired by "Seinfeld"

Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.

Vegan eggplant calzone

Vegan eggplant calzone

A Calzone on Seinfeld

When I worked at a pizza restaurant, I wouldn't get home until well after midnight. Once home, I couldn't simply go to bed, I needed to switch off first. After a busy shift, my mind needed to relax as much as my body did. I'm sure there are late-night workers who will be able to relate to this process. Usually I would unwind with a cup of tea, accompanied by something gentle to watch on television. In my restaurant days that was often a VHS tape of The Odd Couple, and more recently when I worked in a bar, I watched Seinfeld on DVD before bed. But why do I mention this?

One episode of Seinfeld featured a calzone that contained eggplant. I'd never heard of this before, so I set off on a quest to try eggplant in a calzone, the recipe for which is below.

But before that, here's the story behind the Seinfeld calzone.

George Costanza and the Calzone

In an episode of Seinfeld (series 7, episode 20) titled "The Calzone," George and his colleagues are seated around a large table having lunch at a meeting. Their boss, Steinbrenner, asks George what he is eating, and George tells him it’s a calzone with cheese, peperoni and eggplant.

The boss has a taste of the calzone and is immediately hooked. He hands the folded pizza back to George, saying he is a bit jealous. The meeting is then abandoned because Steinbrenner can’t get that calzone out of his head. He orders George to bring him calzone immediately, and from then on he has George bring him a one every day—which George doesn’t mind, because lunching with the boss is good for his career.

That night, George tells Jerry that when he was in the pizza shop, he had put a dollar bill into the tips jar, but just as he did so, the proprietor had turned away so he didn’t see the tip being left. George complains that if no one sees you actually dropping the tip into the jar, then there’s no point in leaving one.

At the pizza shop the following day, George goes to leave a tip again, but the proprietor is called away from the counter just as the dollar is dropped into the jar. George dips into the jar to retrieve his bill so he can deposit it again when the proprietor is watching. As he fumbles in the jar, the proprietor returns. He accuses George of stealing from the tip jar and bans him from the shop.

The situation is now beyond George’s control, as he has to rely on others to procure calzones for Steinbrenner. What could possibly go wrong?

The basics of pizza sauce

The basics of pizza sauce

Step 1: Make the Sauce

This basic pizza sauce recipe works well for this calzone.

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Read More From Delishably

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or 1 cm water for oil-free)
  • 1 small or ½ medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or more if you’re a fiend)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 can Italian plum tomatoes, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

Method

  1. Saute the onions in the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic, oregano and chilli flakes. Continue to saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes and add the sugar and the tomato paste.
  4. Stir everything about and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Blend if a smooth sauce is desired.
Loaded calzone ready for the fold

Loaded calzone ready for the fold

Step 2: Make the Calzone

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 175 grams flour (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • Light drizzle of oil (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Warm water

For the filling

  • Pizza sauce (recipe in step 1, above)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 eggplant, thinly sliced
  • Mushroons, sliced
  • Black olives
  • Vegan cheese

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast and oil In a bowl, and add water a bit at a time, stirring until you have a soft, pliable ball of dough. Turn this out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. Roll the dough into a ball, put it into a covered bowl and leave it in a warm place. While the dough is rising, turn on your oven to preheat.
  2. After 30 minutes or so, your dough should have doubled in size. Knead it again for 1-2 minutes.
  3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a roughly circular shape no more than half an inch thick. If your dough isn't perfectly round, and my efforts usually end up resembling the outline of some country or other, use a large upturned plate to cut around with a sharp knife for a perfect circle. Make sure your dough isn't stuck to the work surface, and start loading.
  4. Spoon pizza sauce on the half of the base closest to you. Add the eggplant slices, mushrooms, olives and onion, and top with whatever vegan cheese works with you. Don't overload the calzone—refer to the photo above for an idea of how much filling to add.
  5. Slide the fingers of both hands under the dough at the end farthest away from you. Grip the dough, and pull it towards you in one smooth action. Press the dough together along the join. There's more on how to fold your calzone, and add a decorative crimp to the crust in the video below. Be sure to make two or three holes in the top of the calzone to allow steam to escape
  6. Bake for 10–12 minutes. When I worked at the aforementioned restaurant, calzones were not baked in the pizza oven, as this was so hot it baked the dough while leaving the filling undercooked. Calzones were baked in the regular oven, and given longer cooking times.

The Fold and the Crimp

Two aspects of the calzone preparation process set it aside from regular pizza: the fold and the crimp. You can see how both are done in the video below. A tip on folding your calzone is to be bold and fearless.

Calzone fresh out of the oven

Calzone fresh out of the oven

Vegan Eggplant Pizza Prep Playlist

I'd been to a party one night at a friend's house, where I came across the newly released Sire Records compilation New Wave. In the morning (I'd slept on the couch) I was delighted when the party host said I could take the album home as he wasn't keen on it. I was thrilled. Sonic Reducer was one track on that album.

Dead Boys: Sonic Reducer

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