Aside from last night’s French rendezvous, this past week’s cuisine has transported us to the Mediterranean twice. Who needs a tropical holiday?
Saturday I whipped up some pizza dough from my Moosewood cookbook. I divided it into two, saving half for a future night of inspiration. Loosely following a pizza recipe from Cooking Light, we topped it with pesto, red onions, artichokes, prosciutto, mozzarella and feta cheese, for a light and crispy feast.
But what to do with the other half of the dough? I’d always wanted to try calzones, those little Italian inspirations for the abominable Pizza Pop. I looked over a few fancy recipes online but decided to go with what we had kicking around.
They turned out perfectly crisp on the outside and nice and chewy inside, and when broken open, let out a burst of earthy tangy steam. The sheep’s milk feta we bought from our favourite Lebanese grocery importer Samir’s complimented the almost nutty hints from the steamed spinach. I concluded that I like cooked spinach better than fresh.
Yields two 12-15 inch crusts
Flour will determine the texture. Unbleached white bread flour yields a chewy texture, all-purpose or pastry will yield a tender, lighter crust.
1 T active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/3 cups warm water (100-120 degrees)
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp olive oil
1-2 cups white flour for kneading
- Stir the yeast into the sugar and warm water and set aside for 10-12 minutes, until bubbly and foamy.
- Stir in the flours, salt, and pepper and 2 tsp of the oil. Mix well, adding flour if necessary so that the dough is not sticky, forms a ball, and can be handled. Knead the dough, or use stand mixer with dough hook attachment, for 10 minutes. Add flour as needed to prevent sticking. Place ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 40-60 minutes. While dough is rising, prepare the topping and preheat over to 425 degrees.
- Punch down the risen dough and knead for a couple of minutes. Cut the dough in half to make two crusts. (One may now be frozen.) Or…
- With your hands or a rolling pin, shape each half of the dough into a 12-15 inch rectangle or circle. Press down and out from the center until the crust has reached the desired thickness. Sprinkle some cornmeal on a lightly oiled pan, place the dough on top. Let it rise for 15 minutes. Top and bake, 20-30 minutes, until the bottom of the crust is golden. (Bottom rack for crispier crust, middle rack for more chew.)
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
enough for one casserole or 4 hefty calzones
4 tsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly vertically sliced onion (1 medium)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 pounds coarsely chopped fresh spinach (not baby)
3/4 cup (3 oz) crumbled feta cheese
- Combine 1 tsp of the oil and 2 of the sliced garlic cloves in a small container, set aside
- Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 3 garlic cloves and onion, saute 5 minutes or until onion is tender and lightly browned. Remove to a large bowl, stir in salt and pepper. Add half of spinach to pan, cook 1 minute or until spinach begins to wilt, stirring frequently. Add remaining spinach, cook 5 minutes or until it wilts. Place spinach in a colander, press until barely moist. Add spinach and crumbled feta cheese to onion mixture, stirring until well combined.
- For each calzone, brush half of the dough circle with half of garlic-oil mixture, and then top with spinach mixture. Fold other half of dough over the filling, press edges with fingertips. Brush tops with garlic oil. Bake at 435 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 8-10 minutes.
Note: Cooking Light has it assembled into a casserole, like this, but I wanted to make individual pockets, like calzones. I divided my dough into two balls, rolled it out round, and then proceeded with the recipe, making adjustments as necessary.
adapted from Cooking Light, April 2007.