Sorry for the crappy, blurry, close-up shot. I was rushing to get this on the table and down the throats of my children and my husband for dinner tonight.
Tonight was a super easy night of cooking for me. I had purchased some bulk Italian Sausage I was planning to make sauce with, and decided instead to change things up. Instead I decided on making a calzone. I knew it would be fast, easy and something different for a change. I should tell you right off the bat, the pizza dough was not made from scratch. I have done it in the past and it’s been okay, but my own personal results with it have never been anything to sing about it. Personally, I’m not really a dough-making-kind-of-gal. I believe that to truly work dough well you have to possess a talent for it. I don’t possess that talent. My grandmother had that talent. I know several friends that have that talent. Me? Not so much. Not at all really. So when dough is involved I tend to take the easiest path possible. Either make it from scratch if it’s a dough recipe of some kind that is fool-proof. Or buy it already made. When I make my Chicken Pot Pie, I make it with pre-made pie dough. And when I make my pizza, calzones or stromboli…you guessed it…I make it with pre-made dough.
This dough came from our favorite pizza place around the corner. Their dough is fantastic and they will sell you a pound of it for $2.50. Why mess around when I already have a great start? That’s my thought, anyway. If you are one of those wonderful dough working folks, go for it and use your own. If not, don’t feel guilty buying a good dough. The only pizza dough I won’t use is that stuff that comes out of a can. Not that I’m too “above” using anything pre-made out of a can. Not at all. The reason I won’t use the canned pizza dough is because a great pizza dough is already accessible to me and to most other people. Did you guys know that pizza places will actually sell you a pound of dough if you ask? Try it sometime. More often than not, they will!
- 1 Lb. Pizza Dough (either freshly made or pre-made)
- 1 1/2 Lbs. Bulk (loose) Italian Sausage (Hot or Sweet)
- 1 Red Bell Pepper
- 1 Medium Onion
- 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning Blend
- 1/2 Lb. Shredded Mozzarella
- 1 Egg
- Pepper to taste
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large pan, break up and brown the sausage. While the sausage is browning, dice up the red bell pepper and the onion and set off to the side.
When the sausage has browned, remove it to a plate with paper towels and drain off the excess fat. Using the same pan you just browned off the sausage in, remove some of the excess fat, but leave about a teaspoon in the bottom. Add the onions and red bell pepper and sauté until just tender. Add the pepper and italian seasonings and remove from the heat.
Stir together the sausage with the red pepper and onion mixture and set it to the side.
Lightly flour your working surface and begin rolling out your pizza dough. You want it 15″ L x 12″ W.
Once you rolled out your dough, dump in the sausage, pepper, onion mixture and spread it out, leaving about 1″ on either side and 2″-3″ on the top and bottom. Then sprinkle the shredded mozzarella all over the top of the sausage mixture.
Then pull the top flap of dough over the sausage mixture and join it at the bottom. Pinch the ends of the dough together on all sides and fold them up and tuck them in nice and tight.
Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray and place your nicely folded calzone on top. As you can see from my picture I had to place it diagonally across the sheet as it was too long to fit any other way. Take your egg, crack it into a small bowl and whisk it up. With a pastry brush, brush it all over the outside of the dough, making sure to get into each and every crevice you can find. This will make the outside of the dough brown beautifully and give it a beautiful shine.
Place this in the oven on the bottom rack and allow it to cook for a good 15 to 20 minutes, or until the outside is a beautiful golden brown. Once you hit the 15 minute mark, you want to keep your eye on it. It can go from beautifully brown, to horribly burnt very quickly at this point. This particular calzone took just under 20 minutes to reach that perfect point.
Gorgeous! Look at that crust. I could just pull off all the ends and just eat them and nothing else.
Once you remove it from the oven, place it on your cutting board and allow it to sit and just hang out for about 15 minutes. You don’t want to cut into this puppy right away or you will end up with a gooey mess all over. Once you have let it rest, just slice it as thin or thick as you want with a bread knife and stuff huge amounts of it in your throat. Sometimes, I serve this with some Marinara Sauce on the side for dipping. Sometimes, like tonight, I don’t.
This is such an easy and versatile recipe. I use this a lot if I’m cleaning out my fridge. There are so many varieties of fillings you can use.
- Sliced steak, onions and provolone cheese
- Diced ham, peppers, onions and cheese
- Diced chicken, broccoli, and cheddar cheese
- Browned ground meat, cheddar cheese and sautéed onions
Anything you have left over you can stuff into a pizza crust, sprinkle on some cheese, bake it off and have a great meal.
Normally a calzone contains ricotta cheese. I’m not overly thrilled with ricotta cheese in my calzones, unless I’m making one with ham, ricotta, and mozzarella. But the rest of the varieties I make don’t contain ricotta. Of course, if you love it, throw some in.