Pizza is the ultimate food – it’s delicious, comforting and versatile. However, pizza is best enjoyed while seated in a comfortable place (or at least ideally in front of the TV), so it’s not a meal that’s easily taken on the go.
Enter the calzone – it’s a mess-free version of a pizza that’s perfect for picnics, lunches and road trips. And just like a pizza, calzones can be loaded with whatever your heart desires. They’re also a fun activity to do with kids, which makes them a great dinner idea for family night.
Calzones are basically Italian empanadas stuffed with a variety of fillings. A standard (1 lb) pizza dough is rolled out into circles, and sauce, cheese, and other toppings are added to one half. Then the dough is folded over the top, and crimped, creating a closed pocket. It’s easy to make and is a great way to get everyone in the kitchen involved.
While you can certainly use store-bought pizza dough to make a calzone, I recommend making the dough yourself so you can control the quality and ingredients. It’s not difficult and is a lot of fun, plus you can practice the technique on your own before trying it out with friends or family.
To make the dough, dissolve yeast in warm water, then add sugar and salt, oil, and flour. Mix until well combined and a soft dough forms. Then, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it a few times. The dough will be ready to roll when it feels smooth and elastic.
The next step is to stretch out the calzone dough. This is a key step because it creates the creased pockets that hold all the yummy fillings. You can do this by hand or with a rolling pin. Just be sure to press down firmly so there are no air bubbles in the final product.
Once the dough is stretched, it’s time to start adding your pizza calzone fillings. Choose from a wide selection of cheeses and meats – I love to use mozzarella, pepperoni and salami, but feel free to experiment with your favorites! You could even try calzones filled with vegetables like spinach, mushrooms and black olives. Just be sure to leave plenty of room around the edges so you can properly fold the calzone and crimp it shut.
Once all the calzones are filled and shaped, brush each with an egg wash before baking. This gives the calzones a nice shine and helps them brown up in the oven. You can skip this step if you’d prefer, but I think it really enhances the appearance and flavor of the finished product. Then, pop them in the oven and let them bake until a golden brown. Enjoy them with a bowl of marinara on the side for dipping. pizza calzone