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Eric Akis: Calzone a savoury pastry for pizza lovers

Fillings include things such as cheese, vegetables and meat, with marinara on the side for dipping
web1_copy_calzone
Calzone, pizza dough that's filled, folded, crimped and baked until golden and delicious. ERIC AKIS

If you like making pizza, but want to switch things up, try making calzone, an Italian-style, half-moon-shaped filled pastry. Its fillings include things you would use on pizza, such as cheese, vegetables and meat. But most fillings won’t include a tomatoey sauce, because it’s most often served alongside or on the calzone.

Below is a guide for making calzone, and a recipe for it and pizza dough. You could also use store-bought dough to make the calzone.

How to form a Calzone

Step 1: Press dough into a nine-inch round. Mound fillings on one side of the dough.

Step 2: Lift up the side of the dough without filling on it and pull it across to the other side.

Step 3: Crimp edges of dough together. Cut small slits into the top of the calzone to allow steam to vent. Calzone can now be finished and baked as described in the recipe.

Calzone

My version of calzone generously filled with such things as peppers, mozzarella, ricotta and pepperoni. Feel free to adjust the fillings I’ve used more to your liking.

Preparation: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 22 to 24 minutes

Makes: two servings

1 tsp olive oil, plus some for other uses

1/3 cup diced onion

1/3 cup diced green bell pepper

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 tsp dried oregano

• pinch red pepper flakes

• all-purpose flour, for shaping

1 1/3 cups grated mozzarella cheese, or to taste

1 cup ricotta cheese

8 pitted green olives, sliced

1/3 to 1/2 cup thinly sliced pepperoni

1 homemade (see Recipe below) or store-bought (1 lb.) pizza dough

2 Tbsp freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

1 1/3 cups marinara sauce, warmed, or to taste (see Note)

Place 1 tsp oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about three minutes. Mix in garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and cool.

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, or lightly oil a cast iron or nonstick pizza pan.

Lightly flour a work surface, set dough on it and cut in half. With floured hands, press each half piece of dough into a thin nine-inch round. As you do, sprinkle flour under the dough if it is sticking.

Set a 1/3 cup row of mozzarella on the lower half of each round of dough. Top the mozzarella with ricotta cheese, using a soupspoon to dollop it on. Top ricotta on each dough with some onion/pepper mixture, olives and pepperoni. Top those ingredients with remaining mozzarella cheese.

Carefully lift up the side of the dough without filling on it and gently pull it across to the other side, creating a half-moon shape. Tightly fold and crimp the edges of dough together. With a paring knife, cut a few small slits into the top of each calzone to allow steam to vent.

Carefully lift and set the two calzone on the baking sheet or pizza pan, leaving some space between each one. Brush the top of each calzone lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle each calzone with Parmesan cheese, if using.

Bake the calzone 18 to 20 minutes, or until cooked and rich golden. Serve the calzone with a bowl of marinara sauce, for dipping or spooning on to it.

Note: Marinara sauce is sold in jars at supermarkets and Italian food stores.

Pizza Dough

Pizza dough made in a stand mixer you can use for calzone.

Preparation: five minutes, plus dough rising time

Cooking time: none

Makes: dough for two calzone

2/3 cup lukewarm (not hot) water

1 tsp active dry (traditional) yeast

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil

1 1/3 to 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine water, yeast and sugar. Let stand five minutes. Now mix in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add 1 1/3 cups of flour and mix on medium speed until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If it’s still quite sticky, gradually mix in some of the remaining flour until it does pull away from the sides of the bowl. Add the salt and mix and knead dough five minutes.

Grease a deep bowl with 1 tsp olive oil, set dough in it, cover and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, about 75 minutes. The dough is ready to use.

eakis@timescolonist.com

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.