Back at Purdue, it was always a lot of fun to venture over to the “make-your-own” pizza sections of the dining courts. There was a wide range of ingredients laid out for you to choose from to build your personal pizza: bacon, spinach, ham, tomatoes, pepperoni, you name it. It was fun to use the little plate of dough you had to also make other things, like stuffed crust pizza or calzones. I can’t even count how many of those I made during my time at school.
If you wanted to branch out a little more, like some of my friends and I did, you could roam around the rest of the dining court and collect ingredients to make a pizza. We made a buffalo chicken pizza one time by getting some popcorn chicken, buffalo sauce, and ranch dressing to combine all on one pizza plate. It was certainly quite delicious.
Now, after spying some pre-made pizza dough at Trader Joe’s the other day, an inspiration for some homemade calzones returned.
Makes 2 calzones
~ 1/2 bag of pre-made pizza dough
~ 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
~ 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
~ 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
~ 1/2 tsp basil
~ 1/4 tsp garlic powder
~ 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
~ 1/4 lb. ground Italian sausage
~ 1/4 pepper
~ 1/4 onion
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take your peppers and onions and dice them up into small chunks (or keep them as longer strips). Even though I used a quarter of each vegetable, I still had leftovers after putting them into the calzone.
- Make your cheese mixture by adding together the ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
- Stir in the basil and garlic powder, and then add in some salt and pepper to taste. Sample the entire mixture as a whole to see how you like the flavors. Adjust the taste until you’re satisfied with how it turned out.
- Add in your sun-dried tomatoes to complete the cheese mixture.
- Take your pizza dough and separate it out into two chunks. Take a roller pin and start to flatten it out into a round shape, maybe about 10″ across (this would be about the nominal size of a personal pizza). Be sure to flour up your workspace and your roller pin, or otherwise the dough will start to stick to everything. Set them aside once you’ve flattened both pieces.
- Cook up your ground Italian sausage in a skillet for about 5 – 6 minutes on medium-high heat. We’re looking to brown the outsides, but don’t be worried if you still see a bit of pink here and there. The rest will cook up during the baking.
Assembly / Baking:
- Take your rolled out dough and start to spread some cheese mixture on one side.
- Throw the peppers, onions, pepperoni, and ground Italian sausage right on top of the cheese mixture.
- Fold over your pizza dough to form that signature half-circle shape of a calzone. Take the edge that you are holding and fold that around the dough on the other side. Press / pinch it together to make sure it’s sealed nicely.
- Transfer the calzones over to a lightly greased oven tray.
- Take a fork and poke holes at the top of the dough in order to let some of the air out that will build up inside.
- Brush the top of the calzone with some olive oil, and then sprinkle the top with garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, and some basil.
- Throw those into the oven for 23 – 25 minutes.
- Serve on a plate with a small side of marinara sauce.
This was a very fun dish to make and the filling can certainly be customized in a variety of different ways. For me, having a tasty cheese mixture in there was key to bringing the whole thing together. The Italian sausage paired very well with the cheese to give some extra flavor, and the marinara sauce brought a bit of tartness to contrast everything. It makes for a very satisfying meal, and can be warmed up in the toaster oven the next day to be just as good!
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