Simple, classic calzones made from an easy pizza dough and with an unlimited assortment of filling possibilities!
What do you do when you’re umpteen months pregnant and are seriously craving pizza, but sauce is giving you heartburn and you’re staying away from things like pepperoni and sausage?
You could get a white pizza, but since I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes, that’s a rather boring option. The better answer? Have a calzone! Calzones became my go-to from our local pizza place when everyone else was eating pizza… lots of pizza dough, TONS of cheese, delicious toppings (I always opted for green peppers and mushrooms), and most importantly… no heartburn-inducing sauce!
After eating at least a half dozen of these over the course of my pregnancy, my husband asked if I had ever made them from scratch. I had… once… and my original pizza stone cracked underneath them, womp womp. I was way overdue for a new recipe, so I turned one of our Sunday dinners into a calzone party.
The pizza dough for these calzones is the perfect combination of crisp on the outside, chewy inside, and sturdy enough to hold up to literal mountains of toppings! I also used an obscene amount of cheese because, honestly, can pizza or pizza products ever be too cheesy? I think not.
You really could use any combination of filling ingredients you’d like, as evidenced by my family’s requests! If you’re looking for ideas, these are all of the different calzone combinations that I made for dinner that day:
- Pepperoni + Black Olives
- Sausage + Broccoli
- Pepperoni + Sausage + Banana Peppers
- Pepperoni + Banana Peppers
- Pepperoni + Sausage + Peppers + Onions + Mushrooms
- Sausage + Mushrooms + Peppers
- Pepperoni + Sausage + Mushrooms + Peppers
- Mushrooms + Peppers + Roasted Red Peppers + Black Olives
Also important – keeping them organized and labeled so I knew who got which calzone!
This was one of the most popular Sunday dinners that we’ve had. Everyone loved this idea and had a blast creating their own personalized calzone.
I actually assembled these the night before, covered in plastic wrap and refrigerated, then baked the next day, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time. They turned out perfectly, so making these ahead of time is definitely an option.
As much as I enjoyed my summer of calzones (which just made me think of the “summer of George” episode from Seinfeld!), I was beyond thrilled to dig into a pepperoni pizza with my husband while watching a preseason hockey game from my hospital room a couple of weeks ago.
Old habits die hard :)
For the Dough:
- 4 cups (500 g) bread flour
- 2¼ teaspoons (2.25 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons (1.5 teaspoons) salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1½ cups (375 ml) + 1 tablespoon water, warm (about 105 degrees F)
For the Filling:
- 15 ounce (425.24 g) container ricotta cheese
- 16 ounces (453.59 g) mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
- 16 ounces (453.59 g) provolone cheese, shredded, divided
- Toppings of your choice
- Olive oil, for brushing
For the Tomato Dipping Sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 28 ounce (793.79 g) can crushed tomatoes
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Make the Dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast, and salt to combine. Attach the dough hook and with the mixer running at medium-low speed, add the olive oil, then gradually add the water; continue to mix until mixture comes together and a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes. Coat a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray; transfer the ball of dough to the bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1½ to 2 hours.
- Prepare the Filling: While the dough rises, combine the ricotta cheese, half of the mozzarella and half of the provolone, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed. If using any sausage or vegetables for the filling, saute them and place on paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Assemble the Calzones: Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position, place a pizza stone on the oven rack, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
- Turn the risen dough out onto unfloured work surface. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and gently shape each piece of dough into a ball. Transfer the balls of dough to the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Let the dough rest at least 15 minutes, but no more than 30 minutes.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll into a 9-inch circle. Spread one-sixth of the ricotta mixture on the bottom half of the dough round, leaving a 1-inch boarder. Top with your desired fillings, then top with one-sixth of the remaining mozzarella and provolone cheeses. Fold the top half of the dough over the filled bottom half, leaving a ½-inch layer of the bottom layer uncovered. With your fingertips, lightly press around the cheese filling and out to the edge to lightly seal the dough. Begining at one end of the calzone, place an index finger diagonally across the edge and gently pull the bottom layer of dough over the tip of your index finger; press into dough to seal. Repeat until the calzone is fully sealed. With a paring knife, cut 5 slits, about 1½ inches long, diagonally across the top of the calzone. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough until all of the calzones are assembled.
- Brush the tops and sides of each of the calzones with olive oil. Dust a pizza peel with flour and transfer three of the calzones to the baking stone. Bake until golden brown, about 11 to 15 minutes. Remove to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving. Once you remove the first batch, bake the second batch of calzones.
- Make the Tomato Dipping Sauce: When you put the first batch of calzones in the oven, start the dipping sauce. Place the garlic and olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.