Thursday, May 12, 2011

Spinach and Cheese Calzones

Photo credit:  artizone
Last week, when spring semester classes ended and life began to look a little more manageable again, I made a batch of these Spinach and Cheese calzones.  I hadn't made them for a really long time--not because they're particularly difficult to make, but because I don't usually have ricotta cheese on hand unless I'm planning to make something that requires it.  If you've been reading this blog for long, you know that planning ahead for meals is not one of my strong points.  I'm more of a wait-and-see-what-you-feel-like-eating sort of cook--which doesn't always work in my favor.

The Girl has loved these calzones since she was very young.  Even Mr. Picky will eat them, since they're mostly filled with his favorite food group.  Both of the Foodie children prefer to eat these au naturale, without the marinara sauce.  The Hubs and I like that additional flavor, but I recommend serving the marinara on the side.  Use it as a dip for individual bites rather than ladling it on top of the calzone--otherwise, you're likely to end up with a mouthful of soggy dough.    

And here's a bonus:  this recipe makes about eight calzones, depending on how much of the filling you use in each.  After baking, you can freeze them whole and re-heat them for a quick meal.  Or, if you need only four calzones, as we do in the Foodie family, you can save half of the filling--just store it in the refrigerator, in a covered container--and use it to make a different meal later.  You can layer the filling with cooked penne or rotini pasta and sauce (start with a base layer of sauce, so the pasta doesn't stick to your baking dish), then bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour.   

I'm including links to my recipes for pizza crust and marinara sauce in the recipe below, but of course you can use prepared versions of these instead.  I've been known to do the same.  A package of pre-made pizza dough (usually available in the tube-o-biscuits section of your favorite grocery store) yields four large calzones.  Chances are it will come in a rectangular sheet, so you can skip the rolling-out step and proceed straight to the cutting-up.

Spinach and Cheese Calzone

1 T. olive oil
1/2 large onion (or one medium onion), diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chopped spinach, fresh or frozen
1 15-oz. container of ricotta cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
cracked black pepper
1 egg, beaten with 1 T. milk
1 recipe of pizza crust
Marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onions and garlic cook to soften (about 3 minutes).  Add the spinach to the skillet and stir to combine everything.  The spinach will be wilted and soft, so don't panic when you end up with a pan full of mush.  That's what you want.

Remove the spinach mixture from the heat and allow it to cool slightly while you're mixing the rest of the filling.  In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Add the spinach mixture, nutmeg and black pepper.  Stir well the distribute the spinach and onions throughout the cheese.  Set the filling aside while you prepare the dough.

If you've made your own pizza dough, divide it in half.  Roll the dough into a rectangle of about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut the rectangle in half, making two squares; then cut the squares on the diagonal.  Now you'll have four triangles.  (As you can tell, this recipe also makes an excellent geometry lesson for those of you who are cooking with children.)  Place a blob of filling slightly off-center of each triangle and fold the dough to cover the blob and make a smaller triangle.  Crimp the edges, using a fork, to seat in the filling.  Place each completed calzone on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with the beaten egg.  Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.

(You will ask:  Foodie, is the beaten egg really necessary?  No, it's not.  But it does make for a crisp crust that, in my opinion, gives the calzone a better texture in contrast to the soft filling. Without the egg wash, your calzone's crust will simply be soft as well.  That's no great tragedy.)     

Bake the calzones at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes, until they're evenly browned.  Serve them hot, with warm marinara sauce on the side.  


Robin said...

Your transition to sanity seems to be progressing faster than mine is. The calzones sound wonderful! We had frozen veggie burgers and leftover broccoli slaw with soggy ramen noodles in it. It was all yummy because there were no paper to read while I ate!

Post a Comment