Friday, September 2, 2011

Calzones with fresh tomatoes

There are few foods as absolutely satisfying as a good homemade calzone.  Calzones are typically made with a thinner crust then most pizza, so using fresh tomatoes in this dish without having excesses moisture is even more difficult to achieve.  Calzones are basically folded over pizzas that are sealed, so there is little opportunity for excess moisture to evacuate during the baking process.  This means that the ingredients going into the dish should already be fairly dry. 


Let’s start with the sauce, which for calzones is typically served in a bowl on the side.  You may use a pre-made sauce, but if you are making sauce from fresh tomatoes, you will need to simmer it for several hours to get a thick consistency.  If you are pressed for time, try this method: 
  • Bring your crushed tomatoes to a boil while stirring in order to avoid burning.
  • Strain excess liquid by placing a colander over a bowl and pouring in the tomatoes. (You may save the juice for soup stock)
  • Return the tomato solids to the pan and add dried tomatoes.  These will soak up some of the water without diluting the flavor.  Simmer for at least 10-20 minutes or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Add sauteed onions, sweet peppers, salt (if desired) and Italian seasonings.
Dough Preparation

To make the shell, you will need about 1 pizza dough portion for each 2 calzones that you make.  Pre-made pizza dough can be purchased from an Italian grocery or some pizzerias. Or you can make your own.  The portion size should be from 5 to 6.5 ounces.  If you don't have a scale (like this one that we used to make ours, which we also sell) press the dough ball into a one cup measure, and use about 3/4 cup.  If you roll 6 ounces of dough out fairly thin, you will wind up with a very large calzone as you can see from the  photo below.

  • Place a baking stone in the oven and pre-heat to 450 degrees.
  • Transfer the rolled out dough to a peel or cookie sheet covered with a coarse corn meal.  Now you are ready to add whatever you like to each individual calzone.  (Making 2 at a time with each person adding their own ingredients often works well.)
  • You may add whatever amount of dry ingredients on one half of the dough, like cheese, sweet peppers, onions, etc. so long as you can seal it up when done.
  • If using "wet" ingredients, special care must be taken.  For spinach, and tomatoes, you should precook in a pan and then drain the liquid off first.  Then use sparingly, and surround it with dry items like the provolone blanket I made for the drained tomatoes shown in this photo.
  • Fold half of the dough over the ingredients half and pinch the edges to seal it shut.  You may also use a fork to press the edges.
  • Use a fork to poke four to five sets of air holes on the top of the shell.
  • Ladle or brush olive oil or butter over the top of the shell.
  • Using a large spatula as a backup, transfer the calzone(s) to the stone.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until done.
  • Serve with a red sauce on the side, which is ladled over the crust just before eating.  If you like it spicy, chopped hot peppers on top of the sauce is fantastic.


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