I’ve sat on this recipe for longer than usual, the end of this past year was chaotic and so I’ve been focused on other things besides recipe development. This has been unnerving since I feel most centered when I am creating food. As I move into this New Year I watch the past year become smaller and smaller in my review mirror, leaving behind its rough edges. I gladly take with me the lessons learned, to feed my future self.
The filling for this calzone is an adjustment of a stuffed pizza filling from my Italian sister-in-law. After posting my two pizza recipes the two of us started exchanging food memories. When I asked her what her favorite pizza type was, I was surprised by her answer. Expecting some sort of cheese and topping pizza, instead she shared a unique collection of ingredients. They were for a pizza stuffed with escarole sautéd with red onions, garlic, capers, raisins and lemon juice. She enjoyed the flavors of this pizza’s filling so much, sometimes just sautéing and serving the filling ingredients as its own stand alone dish.
This stuffed pizza that she grew up with is made without cheese. I wondered what it would taste like combined with creamy ricotta, a favorite of mine. So I set out to make a calzone version of her childhood pizza. Combining two recipes; my grandma’s pizza dough and my sister-in-law’s escarole sauté, created this calzone recipe. While her recipe was not part of my childhood, for me it’s a new adult family flavor discovery now residing in my repertoire of recipes. It’s all about learning past histories and using those lessons to make a new bright future.
Yields 4 Small Calzones
For the Pizza Dough (Calzones)
1 Packet Active Dry Yeast (follow instructions on package, note: the addition of sugar is okay to proof the yeast)
1/2 cup of water total (note: use the volume of water needed for the Active Dry Yeast instructions, reserve the remaining volume of water for the recipe)
2 cups of Bread Flour
4 Tablespoons Cooked Shredded Potato (approximately 1 peeled baked potato)
1 Egg Beaten
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Preparing the Dough
Follow the Active Dry Yeast packet instructions using the water from the recipe. If there is reserve water, it will be used in the dough mixture. Combine the yeast mixture, reserve water, bread flour, shredded cooked potato & beaten egg. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 to 8 minutes until the dough comes together into a round ball that doesn’t stick to hands. Add more water or flour to the dough if needed to get it to the correct consistency. Line a clean oven proof bowl with the olive oil and cover with a clean cloth. Place the dough in an oven set to proof for 1/2 hour, until it doubles in size.
While the dough is proofing, prepare the toppings. See ingredients under “For the Calzone Filling“, refrigerate filling until needed.
For the Calzone Filling
Approximately Half a Head of Raw Escarole
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil for cooking
3 Garlic Cloves Minced
3/4 Cup Red Onions Finely Diced
1/4 Cup Golden Raisins
1 Tablespoon of Capers
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/2 Cup Of Ricotta
Take approximately one half of a head of escarole, separating the leaves rinse with water to clean thoroughly. Cut the escarole into strips. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Quickly blanch the escarole in the boiling water, just cooking until the leaves turn bright green, about 1-2 minutes. Using tongs remove the escarole and place in a colander nested in a bowl. Run the cooked escarole in the colander under cooled tap water to stop the cooking process. When the escarole is cool to the touch, cut the strips into a medium dice. For the filling, 1 cup of cooked escarole is needed.
In a sauté pan large enough for all of the filling ingredients, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add to the pan all of the filling ingredients except for the ricotta cheese. Sauté the vegetables, until the onions become translucent and slightly soft, salt and pepper to taste. Move the cooked filling a large metal bowl and mix in the Ricotta, cover and refrigerate while preparing the pizza dough for the calzone.
Once the dough has completed proofing, remove from the oven and preheat oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Divide the pizza dough into 4 equal parts. On a floured board stretch the dough to a 6″ circle. Transfer each circle to a foil lined 1/2 sheet pan. Once all 4 circles have been stretched and transferred divide the filling into 4 parts on each circle. Note: place the filling mound on one side of the circle so that the top can fold over and seal into a calzone. Once the top is folded over, crimp the ends closed, like a pie crust. Using a small serrated knife gently cut a 1/2 inch vent hole in the top of the calzone.
Place in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake until cooked, golden brown, baked completely about 23-25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. I prefer to eat my calzone like I enjoy any hot deep dish pizza or casserole, carefully with a knife and fork.