Friday, December 21, 2012

Stuffed with Goodness – Vegetarian Calzone

I love everything Italian and of course their food is near the top of that list almost at par with their gorgeous men! Ahhh….amore……..

Pizza, the first thing one thinks of in Italian cuisine has been made world famous thanks to the Italian immigrants that brought it when they came over to the new world. A Calzone is the cousin to the pizza - basically one can describe it as a pizza turnover. The same goodness as in a pizza, just a bit more moist, and a crispier exterior making eating it even more delectable! A crunchy shell with the warm gooey cheesy interior makes this dish a winner all the way! 

You will find a million websites with an equal number of pizza dough recipes that do not really help; as most of them have copy/pasted someone else’s recipe and so most don’t work! After many years of trying the endless quest to find the best dough in my opinion, I found using bread flour makes the best dough (who would have thought)! My recipe calls for ¾ - 1tsp of yeast for every cup of flour. The reason why the amount of yeast is not exact is because if you make this recipe in winter, then you need more yeast and if you live in a warm place like Singapore (1° north of the equator) you need less. I use Prima bread flour, it’s not exactly King Arthur brand of flours, but a pretty good substitute.

Like any homemade pizza maker will tell you, cheese blends are a personal choice. While I was in the US I loved quarto formaggio from Traders Joes, now I use mozzarella, cheddar and add some parmesan for some extra sharpness. The stuffing is also variable, sometimes I like to add ricotta cheese and sometimes I just roast a whole bunch of vegetables on the stove top and add tomato sauce, and cheese. Since we are close to the weekend and I’m running out of vegetables options, I have decided to use eggplant, onion and bell peppers to make todays stuffing.


Eggplant Calzone 

makes 5-6 very healthy sized portions


5 cups bread flour
2 ½ cups water (keep an additional ½ cup, in case dough is ydry)
3 ½ - 5 tsp dry active yeast (about 1 ½ packets of yeast)
2 tsp fresh herb of your choice or 1 tsp dried Italian herbs
2 tsp sugar
1 + 1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper powder
¼ cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup prepared tomato sauce
2 cups chopped vegetables
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
2-3 cups grated cheese
2 tbsp hot sauce


Proof the yeast by allowing it to rise in ½ cup warm water and sugar, it will foam up when ready. Mix flour, salt, herbs and oil and make a sticky dough. Keep aside in a warm place and let it double, punch down and allow to rise again.
Heat oven to the hottest setting, mine is a convection oven and the max is 220 (450). Cube eggplant, salt it lightly and allow it to drain in a colander. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan, add garlic, onion and  cubed eggplant and allow to cook for about 3-5 mins on a low flame. Remove and set aside to cool. Add prepared red sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper and mix.
In the meanwhile, after the second rise, divide dough to make into 5-6 equal sized balls. Roll balls into 8-10 inch disks. Spoon in 2-4 tbsp of stuffing mix, add 2-4 tbsp shredded cheese onto one half of the rolled base, fold to create a semicircle. Using the fork tines, press down on the edges of the calzone to seal. Make sure the edges are well sealed otherwise the cheese will leak out. On the top of the calzone make a ½ inch slit with a knife to prevent the calzone from ballooning in the oven.
Cook for 12-15 mins until the outer shell is golden brown. Remove and allow the calzone to cool for about 10-15 mins before serving, so the insides have a chance to cool down.

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