New Meal Monday: Veggie Calzones

I’m a big fan of the show Parks & Recreation.  If you’re familiar with the show, you may remember, Adam Scott’s character on the show, Ben Wyatt, has a bit of an obsession with calzones. Throughout the series he attempts to convince people that calzones are superior to pizza, at one point saying, “pizza is old news…Pizza is your grandfather’s calzone”. 

Now, I may not buy his theory that calzones are better than pizza, or that they will ever replace pizza, but I can get behind his enthusiasm for the calzone. We have made over a 100 pizzas at home, but this weekend was our first calzone-creating experience, and I have to say it was quite good! I looked at several recipes and could not find one that met all my needs, so we blended a few together and created a vegetable calzone we can call our own.
The process was quick and easy (perfect for our lifestyle as two full-time working parents with a 5 month old!) and allowed us to do some prep ahead of time, which we rely on as we typically cook our meals in shifts. We chose some of our favorite veggies and sautéed them first, mixed up the cheeses to make the filling and once the baby was asleep, finished the process by filling the dough pockets and tossing them in the oven.
This recipe makes 4 individual calzones and it’s definitely enough for 3-4 people based on your appetites. So, while pizza will always have my heart, I can understand Ben’s unwavering love for calzones. Check out the below recipe, and feel free to get creative with the fillings (i.e. try adding chicken, bacon, pepperoni or sausage for the meat lovers in the family, or toss in red pepper flakes for a zing of flavor!) So to end, I will leave you with these wise words from Ben as he describe a calzone as a “portable delicious meal that’s in its own container. It’s a whole new spin on Italian fast casual dining” (Ben Wyatt, Parks and Recreation).

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 lb pizza dough
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Here’s what you do:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 450F with rack on bottom shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large skillet, warm olive oil. Add onion and sauté until softened (about 10 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, reduce heat to low. Add broccoli, sauté for 2 minutes and then add mushrooms for additional minute. Cover and heat for about 3 minutes (until broccoli is crisp-tender). Remove from heat and stir in spinach.
  3. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella (save the additional ½ cup for later). Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the vegetable mixture and set aside.
  4. Portion the pizza dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out each portion into 8-ince rounds. Divide the filling into 4 portions and place one portion on half of each dough. Top each portion with shredded mozzarella, then fold dough over to enclose the filling, press to seal the edges all the way around.
  5. Transfer calzones onto baking sheet. Whisk egg with a teaspoon of water and brush the top of each calzone with egg wash. Cut 3 small vents in each calzone.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping.

This recipe serves 4.