Calzone

Calzone is a turnover with ingredients similar to pizza. The making of calzones started in Naples, Italy in the 18th century. The name came from the baggy pants worn by men during the time.
The ingredients of calzones usually consist of mozzarella, ricotta, tomato sauce, and other pizza toppings. It is folded over and shaped like a crescent moon before baking or frying. There are many versions of calzones, some are small and some huge, with a variety of stuffings.

Because of its size and its resemblance to sandwiches, calzones are a popular street food that can be eaten while on the go. Sandwich-sized calzones are often sold at Italian lunch counters or by street vendors because they are easy to eat while standing or walking. Fried versions, typically filled with tomato and mozzarella, are made in Puglia and are called panzerotti.  Somewhat related is the Sicilian cuddiruni or cudduruni pizza. This is stuffed with onions (or sometimes other vegetables such as potatoes or broccoli), anchovies, olives, cheese, mortadella, then the rolled pizza dough is folded in two over the stuffing and the edge is braided, prior to frying.

In the United States, calzones are characteristically made from pizza dough and stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Traditional calzone dough consists of flour, yeast, olive oil, water, and salt. The dough is folded into a half-moon shape or formed into a spherical shape and baked or fried. After cooking, calzones are typically served smothered in marinara sauce or topped with a combination of garlic, olive oil, and parsley. A Sicilian-American version, Scacciata, is similar to a calzone but is filled with either broccoli or spinach and potatoes, onions, and sausage.

Stromboli

A stromboli is related to a calzone, but it is more of a sandwich than a pizza. The most common ingredients that comprise the fillings are various types of cheese, Italian meats, like salami and capicola, and sometimes vegetables. It is rolled into a loaf, not folded before baking. Stromboli make great appetizers, especially at a Super Bowl party.

It would be completely understandable, were you to assume, that the only stromboli you are familiar with is the stuffed bread filled with a variety of salami and cheeses. But if you’d looked at a map, you might have realized that Stromboli is the name of tiny island north of Sicily and west of the toe of the Italian peninsula. Best known for its rather active volcano, the island lies in the Tyrrhenian Sea. However, the Italian island may have played a role in the naming of the sandwich. The origin of the Stromboli is a bit unclear, but it seems to date back to around the 1950s.

The Island of Stromboli

Unlike the calzone, it does not originate from Italy, but from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or  Spokane, Washington depending on which story you believe. Unless you’re a fan of 1940′s black & white films, you would probably not associate it with a wildly popular Swedish movie star and a Philadelphia suburb pizzeria.

A 1950 movie about a refugee who marries a Sicilian fisherman but can’t cope with the harshness of her new life.

Connecting the dots; here’s the rest of the story – the Philly version:

In 1948 director Roberto Rossellini cast Ingrid Bergman in his drama, Stromboli, about survivors of World War II trying to make a life on the isolated island. Although the film, released in the U.S. in 1950, received only mixed reviews, it caught the attention of people who might never have had any interest in Italian cinéma verité. The Hollywood tabloids and newsreels made sure that movie fans around the world learned that everyone’s favorite actress of the time was having a love affair with her director. The real volcano on Stromboli, as well as a mediocre film, were eclipsed by the sensation, of what was then, the scandalous Bergman-Rossellini affair.

Meanwhile, in a small town south of Philadelphia, another drama—one with far greater consequences for Italian-American gastronomic history—was about to unfold. Nazzereno Romano, owner of Romano’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria in Essington, Pennsylvania, rolled up some cheese and cold-cuts in his pizza dough. He baked the loaf and then sliced it to expose the attractive, flavor-packed spiral within. ‘Nat’ Romano is reported to have asked his customers what he should call his creation. We can imagine that a copy of The National Enquirer might have been at hand because the sources claim that someone blurted out “Stromboli!” and the name stuck.

Make the Bread Dough

Basic Dough for Calzones or Stromboli

Ingredients:

  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or Eagle Ultra Grain flour or 1 ½ cups all purpose flour and 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • Cornmeal, as necessary, for dusting pizza peel.

Directions:

In a large bowl of an electric mixer combine yeast with water and sugar and stir well to combine. Let rest until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil, and mix well with the paddle attachment to thoroughly combine. The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch.
Transfer to the dough hook and knead dough for at least 5 to 7 minutes, to form a smooth and elastic dough that is not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled 2 or 3-quart bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 1 hour.

Divide dough into 2 portions for stromboli or 4 portions for calzones and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, shape as desired for calzones or stromboli.

Meat and Cheese Calzone

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe basic dough, prepared for calzones
  • 2 ounces finely chopped proscuitto or 2 ounces finely chopped Genoa salami or 2 ounces finely chopped pepperoni
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, drained
  • 1/2 pound mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Cornmeal, for dusting pizza peels

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a medium bowl combine the proscuitto and the next 6 ingredients. 

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form into 4 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4 (10-inch) circles.

Divide filling evenly and place in the center of 1 side of each circle, then fold dough over the filling to meet edges of the filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Lower heat to 475 degree F. Transfer calzones to a pizza peel (sprinkled with cornmeal to help facilitate moving dough). Transfer to the preheated pizza stone and bake until crispy and golden brown, usually 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings and the thickness of the crust). Remove from the oven with a metal spatula and serve immediately.

Vegetarian Calzone

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped frozen broccoli florets, defrosted and drained or a 10 oz. package of frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 recipe basic dough, prepared for calzones

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Combine broccoli or spinach and the next seven ingredients in a medium bowl. 

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and form into 4 balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and roll out into 4 (10-inch) circles.

Divide filling evenly and place in the center of 1 side of each circle, then fold dough over the filling to meet edges of the filled side. Crimp edges with a fork or your fingers, then cut a small slit in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape while cooking.

Lower heat to 475 degree F. Transfer calzones to a pizza peel (sprinkled with cornmeal to help facilitate moving dough). Transfer to the preheated pizza stone and bake until crispy and golden brown, usually 12 to 18 minutes (depending on the toppings and the thickness of the crust). Remove from the oven with a metal spatula and serve immediately.

Meat and Cheese Stromboli

Recommend a healthier alternative for Italian Cold Cuts, such Applegate Farm products made without nitrates.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bread dough balls, prepared for stromboli
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced salami
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced mortadella (or ham)
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced, mozzarella or provolone cheese
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Transfer one ball of bread dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle.

Cover the dough rectangle with half the meat and cheese leaving a 1/2 inch border. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll the stromboli into a log (jelly roll style).  Seal the dough by pinching firmly with fingertips on sides and ends. 

Place on a cornmeal coated pizza peel. Using a pastry brush coat the top of the bread with the beaten egg mixture. Carefully place stromboli on preheated stone, turn down oven to 400 degrees F. and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Vegetarian Stromboli

Ingredients:

  • 2 bread dough balls, prepared for stromboli
  • 1 -12-oz. bottle roasted red peppers, drained, patted dry and cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or other black olives
  • 3/4 pound thinly sliced, mozzarella cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
  • Basil or baby spinach leaves
  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. and place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven.

Transfer one ball  of bread dough to a lightly floured surface and roll into a 15 x 12 inch rectangle.

Cover the dough rectangle with a layer of basil or spinach leaves, half the cheese slices, half the roasted peppers, followed by half the olives and half the Italian seasoning leaving a 1/2 inch border. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll the stromboli into a log (jelly roll style). Seal the dough by pinching firmly with fingertips on sides and ends.  

Place on a cornmeal coated pizza peel. Using a pastry brush coat the top of the bread with the beaten egg mixture. Carefully place stromboli on preheated stone, turn down oven to 400 degrees F. and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.

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