Total price: NY $ 9.64
Price per calzone: NY $1.20
There’s a pizza joint near where I work that advertises “Tuscan Roasted Vegetable Whole Wheat Calzones with Herbed Ricotta." Only, despite their laminated little placard, they DON’T actually herb the ricotta,* their filling is so liquid-y that the dough gets wet and soggy, and they charge nearly $7.00 each for what, in my mind, is an inadequate product. Result: a mini-quest to come up with a better calzone, at home, for less.
You can use almost any combination of vegetables in these: zucchini or red bell peppers both work well. You can also sneak some spinach into the ricotta as well, if you like your calzones just bursting with veggies or are afraid you may have recently contracted scurvy. We found some gorgeous looking basil at a decent price,** but if what you can find is too pricey or looking a bit peaked, Italian (that’s the flat, not curly, leafed kind) parsley works well too. (Don’t use quite as much if substituting parsley.)
- 1 eggplant (NY $1.10)
- 1 green pepper (NY $0.99)
- 1 red onion (NY $0.54)
- 2 small yellow squash (NY $0.79)
- 4 tbsps olive oil (staple)
- ½ cup chopped basil (NY $1.79 for one bunch)
- 1 15 oz package part skim ricotta (NY $2.89)
- 1 tsp. dried oregano (staple)
- Pepper (staple)
- Optional: grated parmesan (staple)
- 1 1/3 cup warm water (free!)
- ¼ oz packet active dry yeast (NY $0.76)
- 1 ¾ cups whole wheat flour (NY $0.39)
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour (NY $0.39)
- 2 tsp. salt (staple)
First, start the dough. In removed bowl of your mixer, place the warm water, olive oil, yeast, and salt, and stir by hand to combine thoroughly. Allow mixture to sit for approx. 10 minutes. Meanwhile, attach the dough hook to the mixer. After the ten minute have elapsed, pour in the flour, and secure the bowl to the mixer. Turn on the mixer at a slow speed, and allow to work until the dough comes together and forms a ball. If some bits of dry ingredients remain attached to the sides of the mixer, add additional water, a teaspoonful at a time. (Know your mixer: if some bits remain stuck to the edges in certain areas that the mixer can’t reach, stop adding water, detach bowl from mixer, and incorporate by hand.)
Flour your work surface by taking a generous pinch of all purpose flour between your finger tips, and, gripping loosely, shake out over your countertop or other clean food-safe surface. Get any flour clinging to your hand out on to the surface by flicking your fingers at the counter as if to say “Poof! You’re a floured surface!” Knead the dough for approximately 5-7 minutes, until smooth, elastic and, well, dough-like.*** Oil a large bowl lightly with some olive oil, and place your dough ball inside. Roll the dough around inside the bowl to coat with olive oil. Cover with a clean towel or sheet of plastic wrap, and leave out on the counter to rise. Let the dough rise for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until its doubled in size.
Meanwhile, as dough is rising, prepare vegetables for your calzones. Preheat oven to 425. Chop the narrow end of the squash into rounds, about 1/3 inch thick. Slice the thick end of the squash in two lengthwise, then slice into half-moons, about 1/3 inch thick. Your goal here is to cut pieces of approximately the same size, so that they’ll cook evenly. So if part of the bulbous portion of the squash is a lot wider than the rest, slice that part a bit thinner. Cut the onion and pepper into half inch chunks. Slice the eggplant into pieces about 1/3 inch thick, then into about ½ inch squares. When you’ve chopped all the vegetables, toss them and the unpeeled garlic cloves with 1 tbsp olive oil, some pepper and salt to taste. Roast in the oven until lightly browned and eggplant is cooked through, re-tossing at intervals, about 45 minutes. When cooked, remove from oven and let cool.
While the vegetables are roasting and the dough is rising, prepare the cheese filling. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, chopped basil (or parsley), oregano, and a few grinds black pepper. If using, grate in a little parmesan cheese, 2 tbsps or so, and stir to combine. Pop the resulting mixture into the fridge to allow the ingredients to get acquainted with one another and make friends. Once the vegetables are done and cool enough to handle, fish out the garlic cloves and peel. Turn them into a bit of paste by chopping while simultaneously smooshing them against your cutting board with the side of the knife. Add resulting paste to ricotta mixture, stir to combine, and stick it back into the fridge.
Turn oven up to 450 degrees. After the dough has doubled, punch it. (Yes, you read that right: whack it with your fist, but just the once. No dough abuse, please. You’ll have the opportunity to have at it again later.) Turn out onto floured surface. (Poof!) Knead the dough a for a few minutes, then leave to rest for 20 minutes, covering either with the inverted bowl or with a clean kitchen towel.
Next, divide the dough into 8 roughly equal pieces. If some of your pieces are bigger than others, pinch off a bit from the large pieces, and stick it on to the smaller, rolling between your palms to incorporate.
Using a rolling pin, roll out**** each piece of dough to form a roughly 8 inch round. (Don’t fret if your rounds aren’t perfectly circular: you won’t be able to tell much with the finished product anyway, and its further proof that what you’re making is homemade!) Top half of each round with 1/8 vegetable mixture, and 1/8 ricotta mixture. Leave about a 1/3 inch border around the edge. (Do not pause at this point to, say, take photographs for your, say, food blog. The dough will start to shrink back up a bit as it sits.) Using your fingertip, lightly brush the edges of the round with water. Fold the dough over to encase the filling, and crimp close with the tines of a fork.*****
Transfer calzones to baking sheet, and bake at 450 degrees for approx. 20 minutes, until golden brown.
Serve with marinara sauce on the side, and gloat that you’ve turned out a superior calzone to that of the over-priced pizzeria!
Dough recipe adapted from The Vegan Chef and How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
* I know, right? Even though its LAMINATED!
** I usually keep basil unrefrigerated, in a glass on the countertop. Here are some greatdirections for how to keep it even longer. http://marcsala.blogspot.com/2007/08/save-basil-tip-to-keep-it-fresh.html I tried this, but don’t think the wholes I cut were large enough, as the leaves touching the bag appear to have gotten wet and spoiled. Has any one tried this? Any tips?
*** I like to remove my rings before kneading. Don’t go drawing any gossip-y conclusions based on the ringless state of my fingers in the photos above!
**** You hereby have my permission to count all this kneading, punching and rolling as “strength training”.
*****If desired, freeze any extra calzones prior to baking. When ready to eat, bake at 450 degrees for approx. 35-40 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
|Calories 356.4||Vitamin A 10.4 %||Iron 18.7 %|
|Total Fat 11.0 g||Vitamin B-12 3.0 %||Magnesium 18.3 %|
|Cholesterol 19.1 mg||Vitamin B-6 15.6 %||Manganese 73.5 %|
|Sodium 664.4 mg||Vitamin C 34.3 %||Niacin 20.2 %|
|Potassium 519.8 mg||Vitamin D 0.0 %||Phosphorus 27.2 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 51.8 g||Vitamin E 6.5 %||Riboflavin 22.6 %|
|Fiber 6.9 g||Calcium 20.6 %||Selenium 55.3 %|
|Sugars 1.6 g||Copper 12.6 %||Thiamin 27.6 %|
|Protein 15.1 g||Folate 24.6 %||Zinc 13.8 %|