When is the last time you saw a Calzone? Perhaps at that old school Italian (pronounced Eye-talian) restaurant years ago? I feel like you never see them anymore. In the cold, damp winter of Seattle, I have fallen in love with calzones again. Soups too but soups dont travel as well and don’t hold heat the same way.
Actually before this, the last time I had a calzone was when I worked at the farmers market in Virginia. It was a brutually cold morning, 8 am and 17 degrees. One of my fellow market sellers, the Bread man, took it upon himself to call the nearby pizza shop and have them deliver a few calzones for all of us as soon as they opened. Come 10 am, fresh, crusty, steaming and mercifully hot calzones arrived to warm our hands and souls. I wanted these calzones to hold the same warmth, heartiness and opticism that the Bread man’s calzones had.
Although many of the normal calzone ingredients would meet this bill, I knew that the savory Umami Pizza sauce, warm shiitake mushrooms and sautéed baby kale would exceed expectations and also have the comforting stick to your ribs feeling perfect for cold days. So I’m bringing calzones back. Portable, warm, mostly mess free. Perfect for lunches at work or quick week day dinners.
Bruno Mars had a similar sort of nostalgia for me when I first heard his music. He has that funk, soul grooving in your seat sound. It is feel good music in a way that I don’t feel we hear anymore. So while your calzone is baking away, turn on Unorthodox Jukebox and funk the night away.
Shiitake Mushroom and Baby Kale Calzone
- 1 package of shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/2 inch thick
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 4 cups of baby kale
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 package of store bought pizza dough
- 1/2 cup of Umami Pizza Sauce
- 1/2 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 500 degress F. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and add the sliced shiitake, cooking over medium high heat until they start to shrink. Add the garlic and cook, stirring continuously until both are lightly browned. Transfer the mushroom mixture into a small bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan and toss in the baby kale. Cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
- Divide the pizza dough into four balls. Roll out each ball to form 2, 10 -12 inch rounds. Mentally divide each dough in half. In one half for each round, spoon 1 tablespoon of sauce in each round, top with the baby kale, mushrooms and sprinkle evenly with cheese. Fold the dough over and press the edges together to seal. If desired, brush olive oil on top.
- Bake on a cookie sheet or pizza stone for 12-15 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the filling is starting to bubble through.
Umami Pizza Sauce
Makes more sauce than the recipe calls for. Use this sauce for any pizza but it is particularly delicious with the Calvestrano and Salami Pizza as well.
- 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 2 anchovy fillets packed in oil, drained
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
- 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp of garlic powder
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
I know, store bought pizza dough! But here is the thing, it makes for an easier dinner, you can often opt for whole wheat and it always rises, which is great for a calzone. Calzones can be dense with some homemade doughs, especially the quick rising options.