Homemade Calzones

Prepare the pizza dough and the tomato sauce in advance of making the calzones. It is important to refrigerate the calzone dough overnight so that it can fully rise.

Nearly any topping that works for a pizza makes a great calzone filling, Including some other bulky ingredients like vegetables or meats. Just be sure to precook those other ingredients, or else they will give off moisture.

Yields four individual calzones

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough, refrigerated for at least 8 hours, recipe below
  • Unbleached bread flour or semolina flour, for dusting
  • 1 cup No-Cook Tomato Sauce, recipe below
  • 2 cups low-moisture mozzarella or other soft melting cheese
  • 1 cup filling (see choices below)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • Kosher salt (optional)

Directions:

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, set it on a lightly oiled work surface, and divide into 4 equal pieces of about 7 oz. each. Roll each piece into a tight ball.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil it with olive oil or cooking spray. Set each ball at least an inch apart on the parchment. Lightly spray or brush the balls with olive oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Let the dough warm up and relax at room temperature for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Shape the dough:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 500°F (a baking stone is optional). Fill a small bowl with bread flour, or semolina if using, and dust a clean work surface with a generous amount.

With floured hands, transfer one of the dough balls to the floured work surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour and press it with your fingertips into a round disk.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into an oval or round shape about 3/16 inch thick and 9 inches across. Dust with flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

If the dough resists rolling and springs back, let it rest for a few minutes and move on to the next dough ball. Roll out the remaining three dough balls.

You could also use an 8 inch calzone press. Follow directions on the package.

Fill and bake the calzones:

Brush the edge of a dough round with cool water to make a damp band about 1/2 inch wide all the way around. Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce over the lower half of the dough. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the mozzarella over the sauce, and then top with one-quarter of the filling ingredients and 1 tablespoon of the Parmigiano cheese.

Fold the top half of the dough over the filling. Crimp the dough either with fingers or a fork, sealing the damp edge tightly. Transfer the calzone to a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Repeat with the remaining dough circles and filling ingredients. Brush the tops with olive oil and cut three steam vents in each.

Put the baking sheet in the oven (or on the baking stone, if using) and reduce the oven temperature to 450°F. Bake until the crust turns a rich golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool for 3 minutes before serving.  Serve with extra sauce.

Pizza Dough for Calzones

It’s best to mix the dough at least a day before you plan to bake. The dough keeps for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or for 3 months in the freezer. To freeze the dough: After kneading the dough, divide it into 4 equal pieces for calzones. Freeze each ball in its own zip-top freezer bag. They’ll ferment somewhat in the freezer and this counts as the rise. Before using, thaw completely in their bags overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours. Then treat the dough exactly as you would, if they had not been frozen and continue with the directions for making the calzones.  A recipe for whole wheat dough is below.

Makes enough dough for 4 calzones

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. (3-1/2 cups) unbleached bread flour; more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt (or 2-1/2 tsp. kosher salt)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
  • Semolina flour

Directions:

Combine the flour, honey, salt, yeast and olive oil in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add 1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cool (60º to 65ºF) water.

With a large spoon or the paddle attachment of the electric mixer on low speed, mix until the dough comes together in a coarse ball, 2 to 3 minutes by hand or 1 to 2 minutes in the mixer. Let the dough rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Knead the dough:

If using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook. Knead the dough for 2 to 3 minutes, either by hand on a lightly floured work surface or with the mixer’s dough hook on medium-low speed. As you knead, add more flour or water, as needed, to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple and fairly tacky but not sticky. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should show only a slight indentation. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides.

Chill the dough:

Lightly oil a bowl that’s twice the size of the dough. Roll the dough in the bowl to coat it with the oil, cover the top of the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. It will rise slowly in the refrigerator, but will stop growing once completely chilled. If the plastic bulges, release the carbon dioxide buildup by lifting one edge of the plastic wrap (like burping it) and then reseal. Use the dough, as directed in the recipe above.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Replace 25% to 50% of the flour with an equal amount of whole wheat flour. It may be necessary to add more white bread flour as you knead. Your goal is to produce a ball of dough that is smooth, supple and fairly tacky but not sticky. It may stick slightly to the bottom of the mixing bowl but not to the sides of the bowl. When poked with a clean finger, the dough should leave only a slight residue.

No-Cook Pizza Sauce

Yields 3-1/4 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 26-oz. container Pomi strained tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Kosher salt or table salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried (or 1 tablespoon. finely chopped fresh) oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme, or parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions:

Whisk the tomatoes, vinegar or lemon juice and remaining ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. The sauce can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to six months.

Filling Choices

Use one or more of the following (1 cup total for each calzone):

  • Crumbled, cooked bacon, pancetta or ham
  • Cooked sausage, sliced
  • Small meatballs, cooked
  • Sauteed eggplant cubes
  • Sliced, sauteed mushrooms
  • Sauteed onions
  • Steamed broccoli or broccoli rabe
  • Sauteed spinach
  • Sauteed bell peppers or roasted red peppers
  • Sliced olives
  • Cooked (or canned, drained) artichoke hearts
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Ricotta cheese
  • Substitute another soft melting cheese for the mozzarella, such as Monterey Jack, Provolone, Gouda, smoked Mozzarella, or smoked Gouda.
  • Substitute another dry aged grating cheese for the Parmigiano, such as Asiago or Romano.

One of My Favorites: Eggplant Parmesan Calzone

Follow directions above for the dough but divide into 2 pieces.

Yield: two 12″ calzones, 4 – 6 servings.

Eggplant Filling

  • 2 medium (about 2 pounds) eggplant, cut in 1/2″ slices; peeled or not, your choice
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 2/3 to 2 cups panko or other coarse bread crumbs
  • Salt
  • Marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded or grated mozzarella cheese, or a combination of your favorite pizza cheeses

Directions:  Picture Directions Are Below:

Lightly grease two large baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Slice eggplants about 3/8″ thick. Whisk together the egg and milk. Pour the bread crumbs into a shallow dish and add salt to taste.

Dip each eggplant slice into the egg/milk mixture, and let it drain. Then dip both sides into the bread crumbs. Lay the slices in a single layer in the prepared pans. Drizzle or spray with olive oil.

Bake the eggplant for 40 minutes, or until it’s soft and the crumbs are beginning to brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool right on the pan.

Working with one half at a time, place the dough onto a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Pat it into an 11″ to 12″ circle.

Brush the dough with sauce, leaving 1/2″ clean all around the edges. Use as much sauce as you like.

Arrange half the eggplant, slightly overlapped, on half of the dough circle. It’ll seem like a lot of eggplant but don’t worry; it’ll settle as the calzone bakes. Drizzle the eggplant with additional sauce, if desired. Top with 1 cup of the cheese.

Fold the uncovered half of dough over the eggplant and cheese, pressing the edges together to seal.

Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape. Brush with olive oil.

Repeat with the remaining piece of dough and filling ingredients.

Let the calzones rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes, while the oven preheats to 450°F.

Bake the calzones for 18 to 22 minutes until they’re golden brown.

Remove the calzones from the oven and slice into pieces to serve.

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