Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cleaning Out The Fridge Calzones

You may have noticed that my recent cooking photos were not taken in my kitchen--or maybe you haven't, I don't know.  But anyway, they weren't taken in my kitchen, because I am still pet sitting, this time for a border collie and 2 cats, my oldest "clients."  What started out as a favor for one friend is now my winter time "business"--I've been booked solid for the past 2 months, with the exception of February 19th, the only day I've been between jobs.  But anyway, back to my point, which is that I've been cooking elsewhere these days.  The best part about this current gig is that the owner has basically every kitchen gadget under the sun, and then some, so Erik and I always have fun experimenting with the things we find.  (I'm pretty sure the only time their pasta maker has ever been used is when we're staying here!)  The latest gadget that I wanted to try was a little calzone mold, available from Williams Sonoma, if you feel so inclined.  

While this little thing is hardly essential for making calzones, it was fun to try.  It's best attribute is that it helps with portion control--when I'm making calzones free form I get so carried away that each calzone is like an entire pizza, just folded in half.  I liked this tool because it makes a nicely sized calzone that left me full but not sick to my stomach because I just don't know when to stop eating.

But enough about a piece of plastic--let's get to the good stuff: the filling.  Since our time at this particular house is winding down, and we will be out every night until we head back to our own cottage, I was trying to figure out how to use up as many odds and ends as possible.  Surprisingly, and luckily, I had just the right amount of this and that to make the perfect amount of delicious filling--a cup of spicy homemade tomato sauce, about a 1/3 of a box of frozen spinach, the butt of a small onion, half a red bell pepper and some kalamata olives.  Tangy feta cheese and melty grated mozzarella rounded out this Greek-inspired combination, which I have to say was amazingly delicious, despite its ad-hoc nature.  In fact, part of the reason I'm posting about it is so that I remember to make it again, even when I'm not just trying to use up leftovers.

Usually when I make calzones I just toss everything on the dough, as if I were making a pizza, before folding it.  This time, however, I tried mixing all the ingredients together before making the calzones, mostly in the interest of saving counter space so I wouldn't have lots of piles of vegetables and whatnot while I was waiting for Erik to get back from the store with the cheese.  I actually really liked this approach, and will use it again in the future, since it helped all the flavors come together, and made the calzones quicker to fill.

The dough I used for these calzones is the exact same pizza dough featured in the flatbread post.  It made 4 individually sized calzones.  It is quite a soft dough, which made it a bit hard to remove from the calzone shaper gadget, although spraying it with Pam helped.  

Greek-Inspired "Cleaning Out The Fridge" Calzones
Serves 4

* 1 batch of this pizza dough, or the dough of your choice, either homemade or store-bought
* About 1 cup of tomato sauce, either homemade or jarred
* About 1/3 of a box of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
* 1/4 of a small onion, diced
* 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* A shake of red pepper flakes, if desired
* About 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
* Fresh or dried thyme and oregano, a few sprinkles of each
* Feta cheese, crumbled
* Mozzarella cheese, grated
* Cornmeal, for sprinkling, or nonstick spray

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  In a bowl, combine the tomato sauce, spinach, onion, pepper, garlic, olives, red pepper flakes, and herbs.
If you filling is this liquidy, just spoon off the excess so the insides of your calzones aren't runny

2.  Divide the dough into 4 portions and roll or stretch out into a circle.  If you are using a calzone gadget, place the dough on the gadget, if not, just leave the rounds on your work surface.  Place a quarter of the filling and a sprinkle of the crumbled feta and the mozzarella on half of each dough round.  Fold the other half over and pinch firmly with your fingers to seal the calzone.

3. Transfer the calzones to a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal or sprayed with nonstick spray.  If you want an easy cleanup, cover the cookie sheet with aluminum foil first.  Arrange the calzones so they aren't touching, and have a couple of inches of space between them.  

4.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes and serve.  A big leafy salad is a great accompaniment for these calzones.  Enjoy!

A bad example of giving the calzones enough space.  Better to use two sheets if one is this crowded.

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