Italian food tends to be people’s favorite, and dishes like pizza and pasta always top the list. Pizza places are smattered everywhere around most cities from wood-fired to coal inspired flatbreads hot out of the oven. Calzones are similar to pizza however, the dough is folded over the center ingredients, creating a big pocket, and baked in a hot oven until golden brown and melty good. You don’t see calzones in Italian restaurants as often today, but they used to be almost as popular as pizza. Many Italian eateries had some of the most amazing baked calzones stuffed with tomato sauce and pepperoni, mushrooms & sausage, or creamy white chicken alfredo, just to name a few.
I enjoy a mixture of meat and vegetables in a good Calzone, and this recipe has a combination of both. The taste is very similar to spaghetti and meatballs, if you prepare your sauce with some sliced bell peppers, like I sometimes do. The peppers add moisture to each bite and the meatballs should be classic, either made from a traditional recipe like mine or store-bought from a good local deli. As far as dough, you can prepare your own with a simple pizza recipe (see link below), or buy fresh or frozen from your local pizzeria, or grocers.
Calzones are fun to make for a casual get-together on any evening with family and friends. They also make a great first course as an appetizer, if you slice them up into smaller pieces vertically. I think it makes a pretty fun evening all around to hang-out and bake calzones.
1 cup mini bell peppers or 1 large bell pepper, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
16 ounces pizza dough, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
8 ping-pong ball sized meatballs, purchased from deli or homemade
1 cup tomato puree
1 cup shredded mozzarella or smoked mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt & pepper
(Makes 2 Large or 4 Smaller Calzones)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 teaspoons olive oil, peppers, onions and garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for 4 minutes, or until translucent. Remove from heat.
2. Divide dough into 2-4 rounds and place first round on a lightly dusted surface. Roll dough out into a thin circle, about 1/4 inch thick. Place dough on a lightly dusted cutting board (if baking on a pizza stone) or sheet pan.
3. If using store bought meatballs, toss with 1/2 cup tomato puree, reserving rest for filling. Place peppers mixture on top of one side of dough, followed by meatballs. If the meatballs are larger than ping pong ball size, cut in half.
4. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Spoon 1/4 cup tomato puree on top of filling.
5. Fold dough over to form a half-moon shape and seal by pressing edges together. Rub with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Slide Calzone into oven either on pizza stone or sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
6. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with any additional tomato puree. Enjoy!