Homemade Calzones with Cretan Braised Greens
We usually follow the same routine to cap the work week. #fridaynightpizza
But on the rare occasion we deviate. Just slightly.
Tucked inside these was a mixture of lemon-dill-garlic braised Cretan-style spinach, red chilli flakes, Mediterranean white cheddar (purchased during a trip home to WI), and a dash of Ouzo + roasted artichoke-red bell pepper tapenade to dip. We cooled our mouths with wine between steaming bites, raved about the flavors, then eagerly went back for more.
There have also been calzones filled with sauteed mushrooms + garlic + smoked mozzarella, and the exploding calzones of 2009 with Gulf shrimp + spinach + fresh tomato. Both sauceless on the inside, served with dishes of warmed homemade tomato sauce.
Calzones can envelop almost anything, making them a clutch back-pocket recipe if you need to clean out the refrigerator. (Move over, stir fry.) The important thing to remember is that, just like pizza and ravioli, less is more. As we learned in 2009, overzealously stuffing dough headed into a very hot oven can get messy. Grab our favorite recipe for DIY pizza dough, and use the toppings list for fillings inspiration.
With our freezer stash of homemade dough, ready to use after an overnight in the refrigerator, it’s quick and easy to roll, stuff, fold, and bake personal-sized calzones with whatever ingredient combinations you dream up.
We don’t typically have the kind of cheese featured in this recipe, and maybe you don’t either — an excellent alternative to match these flavors would be a briny feta. Or maybe creamy chevre? And perhaps consider a double or triple batch, freezing the extras for in-a-hurry meals. Weeknight win!
Tell me… Pizza or calzone? What would you fill yours with?
- 1 ball pizza dough, left at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes (see HGN Notes for recipe link)
- flour, for dusting
- 1/2 pound spinach or arugula, washed and drained (but not dried), coarsely chopped
- 1/2 mustard or turnip greens (or ribbed chard, kale or collards, washed and drained (but not dried), coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 1/4 to 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes, depending on your heat level preference
- 1 heaping Tbsp fresh dill, minced (or 1 tsp dried dill)
- 2 tsp squeezed lemon juice + 1/2 tsp fresh lemon zest
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated white cheddar or crumbled feta cheese
- 1 Tbsp (1/2 fluid ounce) Ouzo or other anise-flavored liqueur, optional
- tomato sauce, tapenade, or aged balsamic vinegar, for dipping, optional
- Preheat oven to 500º F with a ceramic or granite baking stone placed on the lowest rack if you have it. If you have a pizza peel, sprinkle it with a light layer of coarse semolina or cornmeal.
- Divide pizza dough into two equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each into a rough 1/8-inch-thick circle about 8 to 10 inches in diameter. (Let dough rest a few minutes more if it's too elastic to work with.) Set aside while you prepare the filling.
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli flakes; cook 1 minute until fragrant and the garlic is barely golden. Add the wet chopped greens, cover, and cook 4 minutes or until wilted, stirring once or twice, adding 1 Tbsp or so of water if the greens become too dry.
- When the greens are wilted, stir in the dill, lemon juice and lemon zest. Remove the skillet from the heat, taste, and season to taste with salt and cracked black pepper.
- Spread roughly 1/2 cup of the filling over half of each dough round, leaving a 1/2-inch border. (Store any extra greens in the fridge for later, or serve alongside the calzones.) Evenly distribute the cheese atop the mounds of filling, and sprinkle over the Ouzo, if using. Carefully lift the edge of the empty half and fold over to form a half-moon. Press edges first with your fingertips, then with the tines of a fork, to tightly seal.
- If using a baking stone, transfer the unbaked calzones to your prepared pizza peel (the back of a large baking tray dusted in the same manner works as a decent stand-in). Without a stone, transfer the rolled dough to a large dusted baking tray that the pizza will bake on.
- Gently brush off any extra flour from the tops, then lightly brush each with oil. If using the cheese, sprinkle the tops each with half; otherwise, sprinkle over a tiny bit of coarse salt. With a paring knife, cut 2 slits in the top of each.
- Either use the peel to carefully transfer the prepared pizza to the top of your preheated stone, or place the pizza in its baking tray on the lowest rack of the oven. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, or until the calzones are puffed up and golden on the top. Cool 2 to 3 minutes before plating. Serve with tomato sauce, a different favorite sauce (we used a homemade roasted artichoke-red bell pepper tapenade), or aged balsamic vinegar for dipping, if desired.
Double or triple the recipe to make extras to freeze: Prepare the recipe through filling and sealing steps. Tightly wrap each unbaked calzone in plastic wrap, and freeze on a baking tray until firm. Transfer the frozen calzones to a large resealable plastic bag and return to the freezer; keeps up to 2 months. To serve, unwrap the calzones, place on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking tray, and bake in a preheated 400° F oven without thawing for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden.
+ Any dark green will work in place of the spinach and mustard greens -- from arugula to dandelion, collards, kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, even broccoli rabe if you have it.
+ No dill? Try fresh mint, oregano, marjoram, thyme, or basil.
+ Swap in crumbled feta or blue cheese for the white cheddar, or try chevre (goat cheese), smoked mozzarella, or the super-melting Gruyere or Fontina.
+ Skip the cheese inside altogether, and top extra virgin olive oil-brushed calzones each with 1 Tbsp grated hard cheese, such as Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano, before baking.
Recipe adapted from Jamie at Home.
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