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Homemade Calzones

There was a memorable day in culinary school when my pastry teacher was out sick, and our substitute was a teacher from the culinary (savory) teaching program. He taught us a number of fun ways to use basic pastry ingredients in savory dishes. My favorite was using puff pastry for making homemade calzones. The dough is braided to enclose the filling and looks beautiful. Almost every week our teacher would send us home with tons of extra puff pastry, and I would try and drive the not-so-quick six hours down to see Ryan in Virginia without it melting. I’d make a few batches of calzones, freeze them, and he’d have dinners for when I wasn’t around! He became a favorite among his roommates when he was nice enough to share. 

Most people know that puff pastry is no dieters trick for success. It is a flakey, delectable dough that is made with 100% butter by weight. I have substituted it since graduating with a whole wheat pizza dough. You don’t get quite the flakey texture, but you still get to enjoy a pizza-like product. If calories aren’t a concern, the puff pastry is pretty magical and a guaranteed crowd favorite. Either dough makes for a wonderful dinner, or you can bake them and slice them into one inch pieces for a hand-held appetizer at a dinner party.  

Makes: 4 entree calzones
Prep Time: 35 minutes    Bake Time: 25 minutes   Total Time: 60 minutes

1 package whole wheat pizza dough (from a local pizza store is best)
1 head of broccoli
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 white onion, small dice
1/2 lb lean ground turkey
8 oz non-fat ricotta cheese
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (flavored to your liking if desired)

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or as otherwise indicated according to the package directions on the pizza dough).
  • Trim the broccoli of all its stems. Cut the broccoli florets down to very small pieces, about the size of your finger nail. This helps incorporate everything into the filling and allows the calzones to be braided easily.
  • Heat a large saute pan with the olive oil. Saute the onion and ground turkey for 5 minutes on medium high heat. When the turkey meat is barely pink, add the broccoli.
  • Saute another 2-3 minutes. You want the broccoli to turn bright green without getting soggy. Remove from the heat and drain any excess liquid. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk one egg with the dried oregano, basil, parsley, and minced garlic. Add the ricotta cheese until well combined. Fold the broccoli and turkey mixture into the ricotta. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Roll the pizza or puff pastry dough out on a floured surface. The dough should measure approximately 16 x 8  inches and be 1/2 inch thick.
  • Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 pieces, so that each calzone is 4 x 8 inches.
  • Make slits along both long edges of the calzone dough with a paring knife that are 1/2 inch apart and a little over 1/2 inch deep (pictured). Repeat for all four pieces.
  • Fill each of the calzones by placing filling down the length of the center of the dough; leave 1/2 inch of room at the top and bottom. Make sure the filling does not exceed the center and that you can see the slits. Repeat for each calzone.
  • “Braid” the calzones by criss-crossing the dough back and forth one slit at a time at a downward angle. Try to keep the ends from curling by pulling at the dough. When you reach the bottom few slits, start to fold the dough at an upward angle to create a nice end (pictured). Repeat for each calzone.
  • Place the calzones on a sprayed cookie sheet. Whisk the remaining egg with 1 tbs of water. Use a pastry brush to brush the outside dough.
  • Bake for 25 minutes, or until the dough is cooked through and browned. Follow the package directions for this if it indicates otherwise.
  • While the calzones are cooking, heat the marinara on your stove top. Place in small serving bowls to dip in.
  • When the calzones have finished baking, slice in half and serve with a side of marinara.
** For a quick and easy vegetarian option, substitute an equal amount of mixed mushrooms for the ground turkey.
How to slit the dough and fill it without adding too much filling.
Filling and braiding the calzones.

Braiding the calzones.
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