Calzones, contrary to popular belief, are easy to make (with a little forward planning), and don’t have to be the bloated, over-filled monstrosities you often get from restaurants that require the next day off work simply to digest. At their best they can be filled with anything, slammed in the oven and, when drizzled with some catch-all tomato sauce, an easy dinner. So here’s what to do:
First, make your tomato sauce. I prefer mine as garlicky as possible: Simply drop some tomatoes with their tops scored (about a pound of small ones, or four or five large ones) into some boiling water and leave for five minutes. The skin will then peel off easily. Split, take out the seeds, and then dice. Chop five large garlic cloves and dice an onion. Put the tomatoes and onion into some warm olive oil in a pan, and gently simmer. When broken down, add the garlic, along with loads of black pepper, a good pinch of salt, sugar and some fresh herbs – I like Oregano, Thyme and Basil. Rosemary works well too. Simmer gently, and then leave for a as long as you like. This sauce is just my basic one – you can add chilli, roasted vegetables or anything you like. I make this a day in advance – trust me, it’s worth it. You can leave it chunky or blend it to make it a little smoother – the latter works best for this dish.
Right, onto the Calzones: To start, a pizza dough can be made by sifting 500g of strong plain flour, 2 teaspoons of easy-blend yeast and 1 teaspoon of salt into a bowl. add about 300g of lukewarm water and a good glug of olive oil – about 3 teaspoons. Using your hands, mix it up gently, then turn onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes. Once its looking good, return the the bowl (greased with olive oil) and leave somewhere warm to rise for about an hour.
I made two, with different fillings in each – one had some sauteed Squid and Anchovies with Mozzarella cheese, the other with Prosciutto, Parma Ham, Salami and a little smoked cheese along with the mozzarella. I actually find that most cheeses work here – just match the flavours with what you like. To assemble, just roll your dough into any shape you like (Don’t worry about that classic half-moon shape – as long as it tastes good, that’s all that counts. Life’s too short.)
Pre-heat the oven to pizza-blasting temperature, about 200-220c, and, using a spatula, slide your Calzones onto a greased baking tray (I’ve started using Polenta instead of oil on baking trays – it’s great – give it a whirl), and bake until golden.
I washed the good stuff down with a bottle of Eggenberg’s HopfenKonig Pils – a sweet, light Austrian Pils that refreshed after the powerful garlic and smoked meat flavours of my Calzone. Nothing spectacular, but a good alternative to the slew of Italian lagers one might find to accompany Italian.