Calzone at Home!
I realize it is a thousand degrees outside and that the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven to bake ANYthing.
But you must understand me, these calzones are worth it! Worth the slightly warmer kitchen, worth the floury counter top… worth it! When a craving for something cheesy, carb-tastic, and packed with pepperoni hits, you obey, my friend. You just obey.
You can also adjust the labor-level of this recipe according to your available time, your budget, etc. For my lower-budget, more-time version, I make the dough from scratch and make the mozzarella (because cheese-making is my new-found love!) But you are welcome to buy frozen pizza dough and pre-made mozzarella at your grocery store. You can also substitute your family’s favorite toppings if they aren’t pepperoni and pesto fans. (NOT pepperoni and pesto fans?? You people are crazy.)
Here’s a tutorial from the dough-point forward. (Again, if you’d like to make your own dough, I highly recommend this delicious recipe for perfectly crisp yet chewy Rosemary Pizza Dough!)
While your dough is resting, rising, or thawing (depending on what you’re using), let’s mix up a delicious bowl of cheesy filling! Start with 8 oz. of grated sharp cheddar.
Next we need to add a hunk of Mozzarella. Chop it into small cubes and add it to the mixing bowl.
Next add 1/2 C. grated Parmesan. Salty and YUM!
And our 4th cheese is feta. So tangy, so divine! (Add about 4-6 oz.)
Now we need to add a binder so these cheese hold together. We’ll do that with one egg…
…a couple of big dollops of prepared pesto… (I like to make my own and store it in the fridge!)
…and a large dollop of mayonnaise! (Don’t knock it, man! It may sound weird but it adds the best flavor.)
Finish it off with a few generous pinches of pepper, and a less-than-generous (read: tiny) pinch of salt. The cheeses and pesto we’re using are already well salted.
Then just mix it all together and set it aside briefly.
Next, turn your pizza dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. P.S. Anyone wanna buy me non-tiled counter tops so I will no longer have to drag this thing out every time I make dough? That’d be awesome. 🙂
And divide the dough into even lumps. The size is really up to you! I wanted small/medium calzones, so each ball of my dough was roughly the size of a clementine.
Gently stretch and pull the dough until it is a relatively thin disc shape. (If the dough resists being stretched, allow it to rest for ten minutes and it will cooperate perfectly for you!)
Spoon a small amount of the cheese mixture onto the dough. Basically, you want it to cover half the disc with a good 1/2″ of open space around the edges.
Now for the pepperoni. I like to take a moment to broil the pepperoni in the oven to give them a little crispness! It’s not necessary, but it’s a nice little touch and it also makes the calzones less greasy, which I like. (See how all that fat ends up on the baking pan and not IN the calzones?)
Now just place a few pepperonis onto the cheese mixture.
Oh, and do you mind if I get something off my chest real quick? I am filled with inward guilt when I write the word “pepperonis.” I realize that the word “pepperoni” is Italian and that it is already plural. And maybe it’s the grammar-Nazi in me, or maybe it’s the fact that my husband has an allegiance to the correct pronunciation of all Italian words that is comparable to that of Giada di Laurentiis. (Love you Sweets! Totally not throwing you under the bus here, ok?) My point is: I just need you to know that I know I’m saying it wrong. I hope it doesn’t offend any proper foodies out there.
And fold the dough over the cheese/pepperoni to create a nice little half-moon shape. (Take care to push out any air bubbles while pressing the seams of dough together.)
Now just pinch the edges or use a fork to press and seal the seam.
And poke a few holes in the top with a fork as well, to allow steam to escape during baking.
Transfer each glorious little pocket of awesome to a cookie sheet that you have pre-dusted with cornmeal so that they won’t stick. Brush each calzone with pesto and a little extra sprinkling of Parmesan cheese!
Bake at 375 for 18-25 minutes (baking time will depend some on the size of your calzones, but you’ll know they’re done when they are a nice golden brown color.)
I love to serve these with little bowls of marinara sauce for each person to dip in. I also like to make a big caesar salad, because frankly, caesar salad is my life. Other than that, crack open a few bottles of wine (or some grapes for the kiddos) and you have one complete and finger-lickin’ good meal!
My husband had this meal picked out for his birthday dinner MONTHS in advance. That is how much he loves these calzones.
I know you’ll love them too!
Here’s the prinatble recipe:
Pesto, Pepperoni, & 4-Cheese Calzones
-1 batch of prepared pizza dough
-1 (8 oz.) bag of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-1 hunk (8 oz.) fresh Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese
-4-6 oz. crumbled Feta cheese
-4 Tbsp. prepared pesto
-3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
-1 tsp. pepper
-1/8 tsp. salt
-cornmeal (for sheet pan)
Place pepperoni slices on a sheet pan and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes to add crispness. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. On a lightly floured surface, divide pizza dough into equal portions according to the size calzones you want. (For small/medium calzones, a ball of dough the size of a clementine is appropriate.) Gently stretch and pull each portion of dough into a disc about 5-6 inches in diameter. Spoon 2-3 Tbsp. of the cheese mixture onto one side of each disc, taking care to leave about 1/2 inch of space around the edge. Place 3 pepperonis on top of the cheese, then fold the dough over the cheese and pepperoni to create a half-moon shape. (Take care to press out any air bubbles as you fold the dough over. Over your fingers or a fork to seal the edges together. Transfer to a sheet pan dusted with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Then brush each calzone with more pesto. (Egg wash along with Italian seasoning is a nice alternative, however you may need to cover the calzones in foil during the last half of baking to prevent over-browning.) Bake at 375 for 18-25 minutes depending on size of calzones. They are done when the crust is golden brown.
Serve with marinara sauce for dipping!