Last week, son-in-law Chris asked for calzone for his birthday meal, but he waited too long—the pizza dough takes at least 3 day to be properly cold-risen. When I make pizza dough it produces enough to make 3 pizzas—a calzone is really just a folded over pizza. I had planned to use only two thirds of this dough for this meal, but the fillings I made required me to use all of the dough—dinner for tomorrow. A Caesar salad completes the meal.
If you buy calzone from a pizza place, they tend to be the size of your head—too much for one person without cutting it up. I prefer to make smaller individual calzone—more of a pocket bread. To keep it interesting, I planned to make two different calzoni, but when I saw the volume difference that was shaping up between my fillings, I juggled some of the ingredients to even out the batches. Instead of making spinach and basil and a second batch with artichoke and prosciutto, I swapped the basil and prosciutto around.
I had a second problem I had with this set of calzone. I had used frozen artichoke caps and I had chopped them up fairly finely, the issue was that the sharp points of my chopped artichokes would poke holes in the bread wrapper as they baked, causing blowouts. If I do this again, I plan to use a box grater to shred the caps.
Note: Daughter Miriam is still having trouble with garlic and onions, so I will also be making some with and some without.
Karl’s Artichoke and Basil Calzone
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
Note: Two different tomato sauces—one with garlic and onions and the other with celery.
1 Tbs. olive oil
(optional) ½ cup yellow onion, diced finely
(optional) 2 cloves garlic, crushed
(optional) 1 stalk celery, minced
7± oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp. oregano, dried
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes, crushed
10 Fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1. Three to five days before you plan to make the calzoni prepare your pizza dough.
2. Grate the artichokes with a box grater and place them in a bowl.
Tip: You may mince artichoke hearts, but the leaves can sometimes be very fibrous and hard to cut.
Note: These can be some confusion in artichoke terminology. What I am calling a “cap” may also be referred to as the “heart” or “bottom” of the artichoke elsewhere. For me a artichoke cap is usually the trimmed base of a mature artichoke—with the leaves, “choke” and stem removed leaving a bowl shaped vegetable perfect for stuffing. An artichoke “heart” is the a partially trimmed young artichoke—with the tough outer leaves removed and frequently may be bought marinated. If you wished you may use the marinated variety in this recipe.
3. Add the Mozzarella, Riccota, rosemary, pepper, and salt to the artichokes.
Tip: Low moisture Mozzarella is specifically designed for using on pizza and is easier to shred than fresh Mozzarella.
4. Lightly scramble the eggs in a cup and add them the mix.
Note: The cheeses are fairly dry and it is very hard to mix the other ingredients into them. The egg both moistens the mix and acts as a binder for the filling.
5. Thoroughly mix the ingredients.
6. Add the fresh basil and blend it into the filling.
Tip: Basil bruises and turns black fairly easily. You want to add it at the very end of mixing.
7. Heat the olive oil to a small saucepan and sauté your vegetables.
Tip: Here first the garlic and then the onion, or the celery by itself.
Note: You may also simply add all of the vegetables together.
8. When the vegetables are tender, add the tomato sauce, rosemary, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
9. Simmer the sauce for 4-5 minutes.
10. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool.
Assembling the calzone
11. Divide the dough into nine equal pieces and roll them into balls.
12. On a well floured board, roll the dough balls into 7-8 inch disks.
Tip: The dough is very stretchy. I take the dough balls in turn and roll them out—one-by-one—into 3 “ disks—letting them rest while I work on the others. I then roll them out again, first into 5 inch disks and finally to their full width.
13. Spread 1-2 tablespoon of sauce over the center of circle of dough.
Tip: Leave about ¾ of inch sauce-free all around the edges of the disk.
14. Place a scoop of filling in the center of the disk.
Tip: You want to add about a ninth of the filling to each calzone. Try to gently spread it along the center line but do not posh it to the edges.
Note: The pizza dough is very stretchy. You may add an astonishing amount of filling into a calzone—be generous. However, you also must be gentile, so that the dough does not tear.
15. Pick up the far edge of the dough disk and fold it over the filling.
16. Starting at one end of the semicircle, take a pinch the two sheets of dough, fold it over and pinch it together.
Tip: Five minutes into this video shows the proper technique.
Note: Some people suggests dampening the free edges of the dough disk, but I found that to make it slippery and hard to handle. If you do dampen the edges, use a fork to crimp the sides together and do not use the twist and seal method.
17. Transfer the calzoni to a lipped baking sheet and let them rise for 20-30 minutes.
18. While the calzoni are rising, preheat the oven to 500º F.
Tip: I placed my pizza stone upside down on the top rack of the oven with the second rack just below it. This turns your oven into something closer to a commercial stone pizza oven with a high even heat.
19. Place the pan of calzoni in the oven and bake for five minutes.
20. Turn the pans end for end and bake another ten minutes.
Tip: Rotating the pan ensured that the calzoni bake evenly.
21. Transfer the calzoni to a wire rack and let them cool for a few minutes.
Tip: The cheese will be scalding hot.
22. Serve warm.
Tip: If you wish you may make more tomato sauce to serve on the side.