May 17, 2010

Jen's Pepperoni and Veggie Calzones

I randomly picked up a package of pepperoni at the store the other day, which is weird. I don't think I have ever purchased pepperoni to have at home. It is just not something I normally use as an ingredient. Why I decided to buy it, I have no idea. If I was pregnant, I would chalk it up to a craving or something...but alas, pregnancy is not a viable excuse for the spontaneous pepperoni purchase. Anyway, I decided to concoct some sort of veggie/pepperoni calzone for tonight's meal. I think I am going to make my quick pizza dough recipe and the filling and go from there. I am really not sure how this is all going to work, but I have a basic idea of how I want to accomplish my calzone making. Wish me luck!

Jen's Pepperoni and Veggie Calzones
1 batch of Quick Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (or your favorite pizza dough)
cornmeal for coating the pan
cooking spray
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
pepperoni slices (I used 4-5 slices per calzone to cut back on calories and fat)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
1 (6 oz.) package of sliced button mushrooms
1 can of sliced black olives
1/2 jar of marinara sauce
tomato paste
dried oregano
dried basil
dried thyme
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of part skim ricotta mixed with pesto (I am using leftovers)
1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup of Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Make dough according to recipe directions and divide up into 4 balls. Set aside. Coat sheet pan with cooking spray and cornmeal and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions, peppers, and mushrooms until cooked. Add minced garlic,oregano, basil, thyme, and red pepper flakes to taste, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Add in tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add marinara sauce, black olives, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce mixture until thick and veggies are well coated in tomato sauce. Remove from heat and set aside.

Roll out dough balls into 4 individual circles, about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Mix the ricotta/pesto with the mascarpone until creamy and smooth. Once dough is rolled out, spread ricotta mixture on half of the circle. Add pepperoni slices to taste,over the ricotta. Spread 1 or 2 Tablespoons full of veggie mixture over the pepperoni slices. Sprinkle some of each cheese over the top of veggie mixture. Fold top of the dough in half (the part without the toppings), creating a stuffed pocket of filling. Crimp ends of calzone with tines of fork to close dough. Cut 2-3 vent slats in top of folded calzone. Carefully move the calzones to the prepared sheet pan with a spatula, and bake for 15-20 minutes or until dough is cooked and slightly browned. Serve and enjoy!

Jen's Notes:
All measurements are approximate. My recipe is more of a 'game plan' than precise directions.

The Result:
As the guy from the 80's TV show, The A-Team used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together." These turned out awesome!!! The dough turned out perfectly...crisp and very calzoneish. I ended up amending the flour amounts from the original recipe; using a total of 2 cups whole wheat flour and only 1/2 cup of AP flour. I wanted the dough to be less springy and more shell-like. It turned out great, and it will be a change I keep for this calzone recipe. The only other change I made was to add a 1/4 cup of mascarpone cheese to the ricotta/pesto mix to smooth it out. When I thawed the ricotta the texture was a little grainy, but the additional cheese fixed that problem. These were probably the best homemade calzone I have attempted thus far and my whole family loved them. I am excited to have one leftover for lunch today. Also, I plan on having some of the ingredients that I still have leftover morph into tonight's dinner; another one of my experimental concoctions. Hooray!!!

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