Calzones are a favorite with my family and they are not as difficult to make as you might think. This recipe uses some whole wheat flour in the bread that forms the outside crust, and can be made with several different fillings. You can also get creative and design your own filling--just be sure it is not to watery or runny (such as would happen with raw mushrooms or spinach, which give off water as they cook).
Although these calzones are meatless, you can enjoy them even if you are not a vegetarian! You can also make them your own by adding the meat of your choice to the filling.
Be sure to make enough to have leftovers, since these calzones keep well and heat up nicely for an easy lunch or snack!
1) Spices may be adjusted to taste.
2) Recipe may be cut in half for 8 servings.
3) Pizza filling may be made without mushrooms and/or black olives, if desired.
4) Calzones may be made in a pocket shape or a round shape. If you are making both kinds (pizza and spinach), you can make one variety in the round shape (easier to form) and one in the pocket shape to make it easy to tell them apart.
5) When making the pockets, especially with the pizza variety, keep filling away from edges of dough to avoid problems with getting them to seal properly. (However, even if they occasionally “leak” during cooking, they will still taste great!)
6) *A head or bulb of garlic usually contains about 10 cloves. 1 clove = 1 teaspoon chopped garlic = 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic = 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1/2 teaspoon garlic flakes = 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic = 1/2 teaspoon garlic juice
2 envelopes dry yeast
2 cups very warm (not hot) water
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar or ¼ cup honey
6-7 cups flour (up to half whole grain)
2 teaspoons high quality salt
Filling (see recipes below)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Soften the dry yeast in water and add oil and brown sugar (or honey). Combine salt and 6 cups of flour and add to liquid mixture. Knead dough by hand or with dough hook for 8-10 minutes. Dough will be soft. (Add more flour if too sticky, but be careful to avoid too much flour or you crust will be too dry.)
Allow to rise until double in bulk. Separate dough into 16 equal parts and roll out each piece to form a circle. Place filling (plus cheese with pizza filling) on dough, being careful to keep filling away from edges, to avoid problems with sealing. Fold circle in half and pinch the edges closed. (Note - You can also make round calzones by placing filling in the center of the rolled out circle and pulling the edges toward the center and pinching them closed.) Some people use a fork to seal the edges for a distinctive look.
Place on well-greased pizza pan or cookie sheet and allow to rise until smooth and puffy. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until browned.
Pizza Filling (enough for 16 servings)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced (may substitute garlic powder*)
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms (or 4 small cans)
1 large bell pepper, chopped (optional, if peppers bother your digestion, leave it out)
2 cans black olives, sliced
1 small can tomato paste (or about 4 Tablespoons)
1 medium can diced tomatoes, well-drained
2 teaspoons sweet basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Pinch of thyme
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
16 oz. shredded cheese of your choice
Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Add bell pepper, mushrooms and sliced black olives. Heat through, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in spices and allow mixture to simmer on low heat, stirring as needed. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.
Cool mixture before assembling using this filling topped with shredded cheese.
2 pints ricotta cheese
1 cup cooked, chopped spinach (2 cups raw before cooking)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (for added flavor, you can use a mixture of cheeses that may include Sharp Cheddar, Mozzarella, Colby, Mild Cheddar, Jack or hard cheese or your choice)
Mix all ingredients completely.
Divide dough into 16 equal portions on bread board to begin assembling the finished product.