“Calzones are pointless. They’re just pizza that’s harder to eat. No one likes them. Good day, Sir.” – Leslie Knope, “Parks & Recreation”

I used to think calzones were pointless, too.

I told Jeff that while we were dating, because he wanted to order one instead of a pizza. Why would you want a pizza folded in half?

Who wants double the crust and half the good stuff?

Psychopaths, that’s who.

But the calzone arrived, and it wasn’t one of those hand-sized half-moons that are all crust and disappointment. It was a mammoth rectangle full of the good stuff. Evenly distributed. I took that first bite, and everything was still warm and gooey, thanks to that gloriously heat-trapping double-crust.

I was converted.

(And Jeff didn’t rub it in that I was wrong, which totally moved him into “Keeper” territory.)

However, making calzones at home is much, much cheaper (and faster) than having them delivered.

For this Three-Cheese Mushroom and Spinach Calzone, it takes just a few minutes to sautee the mushrooms, spinach, fennel seeds, garlic and oregano. Then you roll your pizza dough into a big rectangle, and layer the cheeses and the mushroom mixture lengthwise on one side. When that’s done, you fold the plain side of the dough over the filling (like closing a book), seal the edges, brush the whole thing with olive oil, and bake it.

It is beyond good.

But if mushrooms and spinach aren’t your thing, fill your calzone with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red pepper, caramelized onion, artichoke hearts, arugula – or a variety of delicious meaty things when it’s not Meatless Monday.

Warm up some marinara to serve with it, and you’ve got a quick dinner that might make you jump back and high-five yourself.

In fact, I should probably go high-five Jeff right now.

Three-Cheese Mushroom and Spinach Calzone

Slightly adapted from “Bon Appetit” (June 2010)

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • 1 8-ounce package sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups (3 ounces) baby spinach, packed
  • All-purpose flour, for sprinkling
  • 1 pound fresh pizza dough (or one 13.8-ounce tube refrigerated)
  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • Accompaniment: 1 1/2 cups warm marinara, for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and fennel seeds, and keep cooking until mushrooms are brown, stirring them often, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and oregano. Stir 1 minute.
  4. Add spinach, and stir just until wilted, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat, and scrape everything into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Grab a baking sheet, and line it with parchment or Silpat®. Sprinkle with flour. Place the dough on the baking sheet, and roll it into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle. (If your dough keeps shrinking, let it rest for 15 minutes, and try again.)
  6. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan lengthwise over half of crust, leaving a 1-inch  border.
  7. Top with 3/4 cup mozzarella, then mushroom mixture, making sure it’s evenly spread.
  8. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan and 3/4 cup mozzarella over mushrooms.
  9. Spoon dollops of ricotta cheese over; sprinkle with crushed red pepper.
  10. Fold plain half of dough up over filling. Crimp edges tightly to seal. Brush with oil.
  11. Bake calzone until puffed and brown, about 18 minutes.
  12. Brush with oil again, and serve with 1 1/2 cups warm marinara for dipping.