Appropriately described as folded pizzas, calzones are easy and fun to prepare. Their name, which means “trouser leg” in Italian, refers to their folded shape. These savory turnovers from Southern Italy use the same dough as pizza, and simply turn the toppings into fillings. Once you get the basics down, you have carte blanche to tailor the ingredients to your taste.
The fillings in calzones are almost always cheese-based, and they often include either meat, vegetables or fresh herbs. The dough is folded over the filling and baked until golden.
Ricotta cheese is almost always found in a calzone and it’s usually best to use the whole milk variety. The lower fat versions will release more moisture and could create a soggy shell instead of a crispy crust. Other cheeses are added to vary the flavor. Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano and provolone are good choices.
It’s common to chop cured meats like prosciutto or salami, and add them to a cheese filling. But when using raw, ground meats, like sausage, cook them first, then cool and incorporate them into the filling.
Vegetables, herbs and other aromatics, like garlic and onions, are at home in any calzone filling. Fresh herbs perfume the entire turnover and vegetables can be a welcome addition as a way to balance the heavy cheese and rich meats.
Basic Calzone Dough
1⁄4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
In a bowl, combine 1 cup lukewarm water, yeast, salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Set aside for 15 minutes, then add the flour and mix until smooth. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary. The dough should feel smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Quarter the dough and shape each piece into a ball. Cover and let rise another 15 minutes. Makes dough for 4 calzones
Prosciutto and Ricotta Calzone
1 pound ricotta, drained
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
6 ounces thickly sliced prosciutto, diced
3 tablespoons basil, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper
flour for dusting
1 recipe basic calzone dough
1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons water
Preheat the oven to 450°. If you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven. In a bowl combine the cheeses, prosciutto and basil. Season with salt and pepper. On a floured surface, roll out each ball of dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness and form ovals 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Place one-quarter of the filling on one side of each oval. Moisten the edges of the dough with water, then fold the dough over the filling. Seal by crimping the edges with a fork. Brush the tops and edges of the calzones with the egg mixture. Trim the excess dough with a pizza cutter and make a small incision on the top to allow steam to release. Place the calzones on the pizza stone or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Serves 4