“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
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- 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.
- Add garlic and oregano. Stir 1 minute.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan lengthwise over half of crust, leaving a 1-inch border.
- Top with 3/4 cup mozzarella, then mushroom mixture, making sure it’s evenly spread.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan and 3/4 cup mozzarella over mushrooms.
- Spoon dollops of ricotta cheese over; sprinkle with crushed red pepper.
- Fold plain half of dough up over filling. Crimp edges tightly to seal. Brush with oil.
- Bake calzone until puffed and brown, about 18 minutes.
- Brush with oil again, and serve with 1 1/2 cups warm marinara for dipping.