I don’t know how the weather has been where you are, but here, it’s been hot — and it’s not even “officially” summer yet. 😦
My primary goal is to keep myself and our home as cool as possible, which means I tend to shy away from things that bake in the oven at a high temperature, and this includes pizza.
But something hubby and I both really love, love, LOVE as much as pizza is calzone. Calzone is a member of the pizza family. It’s like a pizza turnover — pizza crust divided, rolled out into small (7″ or so) circles, filled with some yummy pizza toppings, folded over (like a couple of pizza slices folded in on themselves), brushed with some egg, and baked.
And when do we have affordable access to lots and lots of fresh basil?
Why, in the summer, when it’s growing like gangbusters in our herb garden.
So even though it requires using the oven, we made calzone the other night — and to keep cool while the oven was going, I put on my bathing suit and enjoyed our “pool” (which is a 6′ diameter cattle tub on our front deck). Don’t have a pool? Wear your bathing suit anyway and cool off in your bathtub or shower! 🙂
When making calzone, you can use uncooked pizza dough that you purchase from a pizzeria or grocery, or you can make your own. I decided to make my own, and while I have a few different pizza dough recipes I’ve tried and liked, I opted to use the pizza dough recipe that uses instant mashed potatoes because that dough is just so easy to handle!
I noticed a recipe for pizza dough on the back of a package of Idahoan Roasted Garlic (Instant) Mashed Potatoes. It was for an “Hawaiian Pizza” topped with ham and pineapple, which isn’t really my thing, but I fell in love with how easy the pizza dough is to work with.
A word about the Idahoan instant mashed potatoes: They offer a variety of seasonings and flavors in their potatoes, they come in convenient-sized packages (3 to 4 servings are standard; their website says they also offer single-serving sizes now), and all you ever need to add to them is water. No, they aren’t like “real” mashed potatoes, but they are quick and convenient (especially when it’s just hubby and me), and for instant potatoes, I’ve got to say they are pretty durn tasty — and even if I don’t have any milk or butter, we can have some potatoes.
A word about food packaging: Don’t be afraid to check out their recipes and cooking hints and tips for inspiration! Remember, they want you to fall in love with their product and purchase it on a regular basis, so chances are that at least some of their recipes and serving or preparation suggestions will be appealing to you.
You can vary the taste of the dough a bit by what flavor of instant potatoes you use. I used Roasted Garlic & Parmesan Baby Reds potatoes, but any of their flavors would be delicious. You could also use plain instant potato flakes, too, of course — just measure out however many flakes would be used for 4 (1/2 cup) servings.
Vegetarians: This is very easy to make vegetarian. Replace the pepperoni with vegetarian pepperoni, add in some more veggies of choice, and/or add in a bit more cheese.
Calzones (Makes 8 calzones)
For the calzone dough:
- 1 package (4 to 4.1 ounces) instant mashed potatoes of desired flavor (you want the amount of potato flakes that would be used to prepare 4 (1/2 cup) servings)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (NOTE: A packet of dry yeast contains 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 to 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (plus more to dust board for kneading)
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups warm water
- Ricotta cheese to taste (up to 15 ounces) (I used part-skim ricotta cheese)
- 2 to 3 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Diced tomato to taste
- Lots of fresh basil leaves (you’ll want 3 or 4 per calzone — or more, if you like!)
- Coarse ground black pepper
- Sliced pepperoni or salami to taste (you only need a few slices per calzone; I used turkey pepperoni for mine and regular pepperoni for hubby’s)
- Sprinkling of any other veg you might like, such as sliced olives, a few mushrooms (canned or that have been sweat out so they won’t make your calzone soggy), etc.
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Stir yeast into 1/4 cup warm water in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in olive oil and honey. (TIP: If you measure the olive oil first, then measure the honey in the same spoon, the honey will slide out of the spoon very easily.)
- Stir in potato flakes, 2 to 2 1/2 cups flour, and 1 to 1 1/4 cups warm water until blended.
- Knead on lightly floured surface until soft and no longer sticky.
- Place in a lightly greased, warm bowl; cover with a lint-free towel; and let rise in warm place for about an hour.
- Preheat oven to 375F. Divide dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a circle about 7″ in diameter. Fill one half of each circle to within about 3/4″ to 1″ of edge with desired fillings: dollop of ricotta, shredded mozzarella, coarse ground black pepper, pepperoni or salami, lovely and delicious basil leaves, and sprinkling of diced tomato.
- Fold over to form a turnover-like half-circle. Fold up and crimp edges with fork to seal.
- Place on cooking sheet that has bee sprayed lightly with cooking spray or lightly oiled. Lightly brush each calzone with some beaten egg.
- Bake until golden brown and done, about 25 minutes.
- Let rest 3 to 5 minutes before serving. Serve with seasoned tomato sauce or pizza sauce if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.