Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spinach, Ricotta, and Tomato Calzones

There are so many really good food blogs out there today that sometimes it is hard to choose which ones to follow. However, one in particular has caught my eye. Good Life Eats has some really good dinner ideas which are usually simple enough for me to make. I had my eye on this particular recipe for awhile, but thought it might be too difficult for me to just whip up for dinner. What was actually the most difficult was finding all the ingredients. It must be popular, because the yeast was sold out. I think even with my substitutions, this turned out pretty good and I would even make it again. Even though I couldn't find the pizza crust yeast, I found that Chef Boyardee has a pizza mix which worked out perfectly in a pinch.
This particular recipe is also perfect for freezing. There really wasn't enough with the shortcut mix to freeze, so I just halved the recipe. This was also my first time working with sun dried tomatoes, so I really had a lot of experimenting to do with this dinner. I found that I really liked working with pizza dough. It doesn't stick as much as cookie dough or pie crusts, so my planning for was unnecessary. I used a plastic bowl lid that was about the size that I needed to roll out and I just spread my portioned dough out onto. Easy peasy! 
You can really add whatever fillings you would like. My hubby wasn't too thrilled that I was putting in spinach, but he didn't complain while eating it. Maybe we will try a mushroom filling next time. I love the creamy ricotta cheese and it's easy to keep this fairly healthy. Serve it up with some tomato sauce (Italian style!) and you're done! I think I need some fancy bowls for dipping sauces, don't you? See below for my quick version or head over to Good Life Eats for the full recipe.

Spinach Calzones with Ricotta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
makes 4 calzones - serves 4
Chef Boyardee Pizza Crust mix

Spinach Calzones
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 tablespoons fresh basil, optional
1/4 - 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
24 slices pepperoni (6 per calzone), cut into quarters

For the Calzone Crust:
Follow directions on box. Let stand for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, whisk in the olive oil. Dough should be soft and moist, but not sticky. Dough does not need to rise, but keep it covered while you mix up the filling.

For the Calzones:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Combine the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, pepper, salt, garlic powder, and beaten egg. Stir well. Fold in the spinach, basil (optional), and sun-dried tomatoes.
Divide dough into 4 equal portions and roll them into balls. It helps if you have a kitchen scale.
Roll each ball into an 8 inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Top each circle with approximately 1/2 cup of ricotta mixture. Then add 6 slices pepperoni (cut into quarters) to each calzone. Pull edge of lower crust over top to form a half circle. Press the layers together to seal.

Transfer calzones to a greased baking sheet or a parchment lined pizza stone. If desired, brush with olive oil or an egg wash (1 egg + 1 tablespoon water, beaten). Bake at 450 degrees F for 10-20 minutes, until browned and puffy. Transfer to cooling rack to keep bottom crust crisp to sit until cool enough to handle. Serve with marinara sauce or other sauce for dipping.

Note: To freeze - cool completely, then store in a freezer safe ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat in the oven or toaster oven at 300 degrees F.

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