I didn’t grow up with the “normal” childhood foods. My mother is very open to new types of foods and loved to cook. I remember when we would make a list of food for the week, and being asked what I wanted. I blurt something out like lasagna, then be shut down “We already have a pasta dish” or “We are already having Italian on Tuesday.” Variety was a huge priority. I guess it still is. When I ask my husband if there is something he wants to eat, his response is usually “We have so many things, I don’t remember all the dishes.”
I remember couscous, falafels, pancake dinners (which I hated), tuna casseroles, rice and beans, and seafood quiches. Not the normal kid foods like mac and cheese, hotdogs, and hamburger helper. Actually funny story, I tried making the tempeh helper in Appetite for Reduction and wondering what the hell to do with the cheese sauce. I am still not sure what to do with it- I just mix it all in with everything else.
We did get excited for pizza night. It is possibly the only thing I liked that my father would make. He rolled out huge square thin crust pizzas. The gold mine were the middle pieces since they had no crusts. Then we would get even more excited about calzone night when my older sister was feeling up for it. My perception of calzones is shaped by the ones we made at home. In fact whenever I would go out, I felt so disappointed by the restaurant versions. Too much cheese, not enough ricotta.
Even today I am still not sure how other people perceive calzones. My husband asked if I was going to put our recently made homemade tomato sauce (he picked 22 pounds of tomatoes last weekend) in the calzone and I flipped out on him. Tomato sauce is strictly for dipping! Sure you could add FRESH tomatoes to the inside, but never the sauce. Pretty much I like my calzones to be big giant white pizzas that are rolled up.
Pretty much anything can go in a calzone. Sky’s the limit. Leftover tofu, seitan, and facon-bacon are great meat replacement options. I usually keep it simple, red pepper oil, and sautéed veggies. I used sautéed red italia pepper and green bell pepper, then sliced raw shiitake mushrooms and marinated them in soy sauce and a little oil. But sun dried and fresh tomatoes, olives, canned mushrooms, broccoli, roasted garlic, and spinach (or any other green really) all make great fillings
So if you haven’t herd of red pepper oil yet, you are missing out. It is our secret weapon in the recipe. You can use Giada’s fancy recipe, or do what I do- mix oil and red pepper flakes and let sit for several hours. The longer it sits, the most intense the flavor. So if you are making calzones for dinner on Sunday, the hot pepper oil should be the first thing you make in the morning. There isn’t any official ratio to follow, but tend to do one tablespoon oil to one teaspoon red pepper flakes.
A lot of my “recreating” with this recipe was mostly just getting ratios right. I’ve made vegan versions in the past, but pretty much just making a tofu-ricotta filling for myself, and the original recipe for everyone else. I think I tried making a vegan version when I was in Philadelphia, but our oven was broken and we were left with raw dough covered in black smoke. I curse and was pissed by the wasted money. I probably would of thrown them out of the window if my husband wasn’t there. We weren’t married yet at the time, so I couldn’t let him see how freakin crazy I am.
So make sure your oven works so you aren’t tempted to throw these delicious calzones out the window.
The recipe takes awhile… really. Probably 2 hours overall including cleaning up and such. But it is well worth the time since I’ve never eaten a calzone that is similar in restaurants. The recipe makes 4 reasonable sized calzones, or 2 massive calzones. I made the smaller ones, but realistically, when I make them, we eat the massively sized calzones.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 package of dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp)
- 2 1/2-3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
1Mix together the warm water and yeast, making sure it is thoroughly dissolved. 2In a stand mixer with a hook attachment, mix together the yeast-water and 1 1/2 cups flour. Mix until all the flour is moistened. 3Mix in another cup of flour, olive oil, and salt. Mix until the dough can hold it's shape. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. 4Lightly flour a surface to knead the dough. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding flour if the dough is too sticky. 5Lightly oil a bowl, and place the dough in the bowl. Place a tea towel over top or cling wrap. Let the dough rise for an hour, and double in size. Then you will be ready to use it in a recipe.
- 1 recipe of basic pizza dough
- 1/2 cup raw cashew
- 1 fresh lemon juiced
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp ground flax seed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb firm tofu
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese (I used shredded Daiya)*
- sauteed peppers, mushrooms, seitan, whatever filling of choice
- tomato sauce for dipping
- red pepper flake oil**
1Start making the dough. While the dough is rising, start working on the ricotta filling and other stuffing sides. 2Place cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, flax seed, and olive oil in a food processor fitted with an S blade. Blend them into a paste. You will probably have to stop and scrape down the nut pieces a few times. If you are having trouble, you may want to clump the nut pieces into one large clump, then turn the machine on, hopefully creating a large ball.*** 3Using your hands crumble the tofu in big chunks into the food processor. Pulse once or twice. Add garlic powder, basil, salt, and cheese. Pulse a few more times until everything is mixed. 4Once your dough has risen, ricotta finished, and all your fillings are done cooking, preheat your oven to 375°F. If using a pizza stone, place in the oven so it will be nice and hot. If using a baking sheet, lightly drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle on cornmeal to prevent sticking. 5Bring all your fillings near your counter where you will be rolling out the dough. Divide the dough up into four equal pieces. 6Take of the dough pieces and roll it into a small circle. In the middle place a quarter of the ricotta mixture, which ever veggies you picked out, and drizzle with a small amount of red pepper flake oil. 7Fold the dough over the filling. Fold over the bottom half of the circle towards the filling, sealing the calzone. Look at the pictures on the blog if you need clarification. 8Take a small knife and punch holds into the dough to prevent leaking. If you are doing custom calzone for each person, you can try and make shapes or letters with the punched slits. 9Repeat steps 6-8 with the rest of the dough pieces. 10Carefully place the calzones on your pizza stone or baking sheet. Place in the oven for 20 minutes, the dough should be browned. 11After 20 minutes, let calzones cool for 5 minutes, and serve with heated tomato sauce for dipping. *You can either shred your cheese or use small squares. Traditionally my family would always put cubes of cheese in our calzone. **You can follow the recipe linked, or you can mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes and let sit for several hours. ***This step works well with MY machine. Feel free to ignore my suggestions if you have your own personal method that you like.