Have you ever had one of those Sundays where you do a very welcome, whole lot of nothing?
That was me on a recent Sunday: reading, catching up on TV shows, crocheting, and snuggling with my dogs. And then, before I knew it, evening started to fall and my thoughts (and stomach) turned to dinner! To top off my lazy Sunday, I wanted pizza, but to order out would have required getting out of my pajamas and going somewhere—why not make my own instead?!?!
As a variation on the traditional pizza that I’ve been making for years, I decided to try my hand at the Kale and Three-Cheese Calzone from the Comfort Food cookbook. If you’ve never had a calzone, it’s basically a folded over pizza with the dough acting as a double “crust” on the top and bottom of the pie.
Because the goal was to not leave the house, I had to make do with the ingredients I had on hand, which meant one fairly significant change: instead of Parmesan cheese, I substituted in goat cheese. The result was really lovely and speaks to this recipe’s flexibility in adapting to use almost any kind of cheese as long as it’s taste-compatible with kale (and, really, what kind of cheese isn’t?).
I chose to make the dough recipe listed here and it was a bit of a time commitment, but, if you have the time, I would definitely recommend it: the dough was easy to work with and the final product was really delicious. If time or ingredients are a factor, you could easily use your favorite recipe or pre-made dough as a substitute.
I also used fresh kale instead of frozen, which meant stripping the cleaned leaves from the stems and boiling them in water for 10 to 15 minutes.
This recipe is quite long, but don’t be intimidated—there are a lot of steps, but it’s really very easy. Let’s get started!
Calzone (or pizza) Dough
- 1-¼ cups lukewarm water (105° to 115° F)
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 2-¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
- 3-½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
- 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1-½ teaspoons salt
Pour the water into a large bowl, add the sugar, and sprinkle with the yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, and mix well with a wooden spoon. After the second cup, beat briskly 100 times. Wrap in plastic and set aside for 10 minutes.
The dough with plastic wrap at the ready. Beating the dough a 100 times by hand sure does make a girl work up an appetite!
Add the olive oil, salt, and remaining flour, ⅓ cup at a time, beating well after each addition, until the dough forms a ball. Turn it out onto a floured work surface. Knead with floured hands for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the dough is supple and springy, adding more flour as necessary to keep from sticking.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough in it, rotating it to coat the surface. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 45 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Proceed with the recipe as directed.
Makes enough dough for two pizzas or calzones.
Kale and Three-Cheese Calzone
- 1 box (10 ounces) frozen chopped kale (or 1 to 1-¼ pounds fresh)
- 1-½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- ⅔ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2-½ tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
- ½ cup tomato sauce, plus extra to serve on the side
For crust: Dust a large baking sheet with cornmeal (NOTE: I used flour.) Lightly flour a counter or work surface.
When the dough has doubled, punch it down, turn it out onto the work surface, and knead briefly. Divide in half and knead into two balls. Let rest for 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
For filling: Cook the kale according to the package directions and drain (or prepare and cook fresh kale, if using). When the kale is cool enough to handle, squeeze out most of the excess liquid.
Transfer to a large bowl and add the cheeses, basil, and pepper, to taste.
Remember to squeeze the extra moisture from the kale before mixing it with the cheese. If you don't, you'll likely end up with a not-so-appetizing kale and cheese soup wrapped in soggy bread.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 9 to 10 minutes, or until soft and golden. Remove from heat.
To assemble: Working with one ball of dough at a time, roll it into a 12x10-inch oblong. Draw an imaginary line down the center and pile half of the kale-and-cheese mixture on one side, leaving a 1-inch border. Spread with half the onions and dot with ¼ cup of the tomato sauce.
Ok, ok. I admit it. I trimmed the edges of my dough to impress. My rolling pin skills are less than extraordinary.
Using a wet fingertip, lightly moisten the edge of the dough. Lift the uncovered half of the dough over the filling and line up the edges (a second pair of hands helps). Pinch the edges to seal, then roll the seam over to make a ropelike edge.
This did not require another set of hands. Actually it was really easy. Now, if only I could get my pie crusts to look this good.
Place on one side of the baking sheet. With a pairing knife, make three or four holes or steam vents. Repeat with the other ball of dough. Let them rest for 5 minutes.
Bake on the center over rack for 23 to 25 minutes, or until golden.
What do you mean I have to let it cool for 10 minutes?!?!?!
Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve with the remaining tomato sauce, warmed, if desired.
Makes 2 calzones or six servings.
Unlike pizza, calzone is actually really hard to photograph, but here's a shot of the final product. Please note the ooey-gooey-ness.
And my final wonderful final dinner: