Yeasty bread, creamy ricotta, tangy tomato sauce - a calzone is a hand-held combination of pizza, filled pasta, and a sandwich. This Italian classic dish is quick and easy to make and can be tailored to fit any taste. While it can be fun to experiment with new flavor combinations, traditional calzone are stuffed with pizza toppings, ricotta cheese, and tomato sauce. Calzone can be eaten hot from the oven or at room temperature, at the dinner table or on the go, dressed up for a special dinner or paired with a salad for an easy weeknight supper.
Calzone Making Tips:
Calzone dough is basically the same as pizza dough. Use your favorite homemade pizza dough recipe, a boxed pizza dough mix, store bought pizza dough, refrigerated biscuit dough, or frozen bread dough to make your calzone. Use whatever is convenient and what your family likes the best. Individually-sized calzones bake quickly and can be tailored to your family’s favorite flavors. The dough for one 12 inch pizza crust will make two individual-size calzones.
Most calzone-related mistakes are made in the filling. You must strike a careful balance to prevent leakage and avoid filling that is too wet or too dry. A calzone that has problems with the filling cannot cook properly.
For a lower calorie filling, use part-skim ricotta or low-fat cottage cheese instead of full-fat ricotta. Use thin slices of fresh mozzarella or deli-sliced provolone for a creamy, slightly-tangy filling.
Drain cooked sausages or beef and onions well before using them to fill your calzone.
Remove any excess liquids from your filling ingredients. Pat dry olives or canned mushrooms. Drain ricotta or cottage cheese. Extra moisture in the filling will cause the inside of your calzone to steam, instead of bake, giving it an unappetizing texture. Wetness can also make the filling leak out of the calzone crust and end up all over your baking sheet and oven.
All of your fillings should be in bite-sized pieces. This allows them to cook evenly and quickly and makes the calzone easier to enjoy.
Use a small amount of sauce in the mixture to keep your filling from being too wet. A sauce that is full of chunky veggies and light on liquid is the perfect choice. Provide extra sauce on the side for dipping your calzone. Whether you use homemade or jarred sauce, be sure it is properly seasoned. The sauce is what heavily influences the taste of your calzone - if it is too sweet or too bland, those flavor missteps will be carried throughout the entire filling. Season, taste, and season your sauce again!
As you pat out the dough for your calzones, be careful not to stretch it too thin or it will tear and your filling will be all over the oven. Try to keep it about ¼ inch thick. Place the filling in the center of each calzone, with ricotta and shredded cheese on the bottom, then veggies and meat, and finally a few spoonfuls of sauce on the top or you could put all of your filling ingredients in a bowl and mix them together. At most, an individual sized calzone can handle, 3 ounces of sauce, ½ cup of veggies or meat, ? cup of ricotta or cottage cheese, and ¼ cup of shredded Italian cheese.
Fold the calzone dough over to make a half-moon shape and seal the edges of the dough well. Be careful not to make the sealed crust too thick or it will not bake through. Fold the lower edge of the crust over the top edge. Starting at one end of the half-moon, crimp and pinch the crust along the open side of the calzone. Then, press down with the tines of a fork along the edge of the crust to be sure that it is sealed. Season the crust well by brushing it with garlic-infused butter, dust it with an Italian herb-blend, or sprinkle on parmesan cheese. To give your crust a beautiful golden hue, brush it with a little bit of milk before baking.
Use a knife to cut a small vent or hole in the top of your calzone before baking. This allows hot air to escape from the filling during the baking process so that your calzone will bake, not steam from the inside out.
Bake your calzone on a greased cookie sheet or a preheated pizza stone. While some recipes call for baking the calzone directly on the oven rack, the tender nature of the calzone does not handle this method well. If you are concerned about the bottom of the calzone not cooking properly, bake it on a pizza stone or start your calzone on a greased baking sheet and then slide it off onto the oven rack when there are only a few minutes left of baking time. Once your calzone is fully baked, move it to a wire rack and let it rest a few minutes before slicing or eating to let the filling set. Otherwise, it will seep out onto your plate or platter.
Calzone freezes very well. Once your calzone has cooled to room temperature, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Place your calzone package in a zip top bag, label it with the date, and put it in the freezer. Your calzone will stay fresh in the freezer for three months.
If you don’t have much time, but still want to enjoy the flavors of calzone, try these shortcuts:
Use a pita as the crust of your calzone. Cut one pita in half, wrap it in a slightly damp paper towel and warm it for a few seconds in the microwave. Mix your favorite calzone toppings in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat them in the microwave just until they are warmed through. Using a spoon, fill your pita halves with the calzone filling and enjoy!
A large round loaf of bread or smaller, individually-sized round loaves can be turned into a calzone-style sandwich, a.k.a. Calzonewich. Preheat the oven to 350 degree F . Cut off the top ? of your bread. Use your fingers to clear out a space in the remaining ? of the bread, like you would when preparing a bread bowl for soup. Layer in your favorite calzone toppings and put the top ? of the loaf back on the Calzonewich. Wrap each Calzonewich, large or small, in aluminum foil. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet until heated through, about 10 minutes for individual Calzonewiches or 20 minutes for a large Calzonewich. Let your Calzonewich rest for a few minutes before slicing and devouring.
Cut up a few pita into wedges, brush lightly with olive oil, season with salt, and bake them in a preheated 350 degree F oven until just golden, about 5 minutes. Remove your pita chips from the oven and top them with a bit of ricotta, shredded Italian cheese and small pieces of cooked meat, chopped veggies, or olives. Place them back in the oven until the cheese is melted, another 5 minutes. Take them out of the oven, place them on a platter with a bowl of tomato sauce for dipping and enjoy!