January 13, 2013

Spinach and Sausage Calzones

Am I the only one that gets a little worried about how their mind works sometimes? I was going to make pretzels. I had planned (that dirty, dirty word) to make stuffed pretzels. I had done research on stuffed pretzels. I had pinned recipes for stuffed pretzels. I had decided to do a spanakopita-inspired stuffed pretzels, with goat cheese (because I didn't want feta) and spinach and sausage.

And I made calzones. Brain, stop trolling me. I now have an unused log of goat cheese in my refrigerator, all thanks to you.
To be fair to Mr. Brain (although he doesn't deserve it, since this is far from the first time he's done it to me)(and he's now apparently male for some reason. I don't know. I'm special.) I was already a bit disheartened by a recipe fail earlier on. I had found the easiest bread recipe in the world, and I was going to make it, then I was going to make a panini with it, and I'd be set with my recipes for the week. Then the bread came out of the oven, and it was gross. See, more planning, and more planning fails. I should really know better.

Anyway, I was disheartened by the bread fail, and Mr. Brain didn't want to go through that agony again. So slowly, stuffed pretzels became stuffed pretzel buns, which became stuffed buns, which turned into calzones.

And, you know, these turned out amazing, so you can't really be too mad at Mr. Brain. He came up with this filling, which is the most epic of noms. Seriously, if it wasn't for the fact that there was raw egg in it, more of the filling might have ended up in my mouth than in the calzones. Creamy and garlicky with the spinach and the sausage and the little tang from the Swiss. Cripes, I'm drooling. I made it pretty super garlicky, but you could tone that down if you want. Just don't tell me, because then we can't be friends.

If you increased the ricotta, this would make killer lasagna or stuffed shells. Or you could wrap it in super simple pizza dough and have a bunch of these hand-held beauties ready for your Superbowl party. Which is soon, right? Soonish? I don't know; I have board game parties, not football parties. But these work well there, too.
So maybe Mr. Brain's trolling all works out for the best. But that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Spinach and Sausage Calzones {Printable Version}

Yield: 10 individual calzones

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Big pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
1lb sausage meat (casings removed)
16oz. ricotta cheese
1 pkg. (10oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried basil
½ tsp. sea salt
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste
1 recipe Basic Pizza Dough (see below), or premade pizza dough
1 tsp. water

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic,
and red pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent. Add the sausage meat and
continue to cook until the sausage has cooked through. Drain off the fat and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, spinach, Swiss, 1 egg, and seasonings until smooth. Mix in the sausage.

Divide the pizza dough into 10 even pieces. Flatten into rounds and roll out to ¼” thickness. In the center
of each round, mound about 3 tbsp. of the sausage filling. Fold the dough in half over the filling, and
pinch the sides together to seal. Place the calzones on an ungreased cookie sheet, and pierce with a
fork. Beat the remaining egg with 1tsp. of water, and brush the tops of the calzones with the egg wash.

Bake 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F and bake another 5-10 minutes, until the
calzones are an even golden brown. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Recipe by Kim

Basic Pizza Dough {Printable Version}

Yield: 1 12inch thin crust pizza

1 tbsp. active dry yeast
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. warm water (about 110°F)
2¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in the water and let activate for 10 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flour and
salt, and make a well in the center. Pour the yeast mixture into the well, and using a fork, pull the flour
into the yeast mixture. Continue stirring until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic,
about 10 minutes. Add more flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking.

Coat the inside of a clean bowl with the olive oil. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl,
turning it over to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, about 1
hour. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down the dough, and form it into a ball.
Cover with a dish towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes, until almost doubled in size. Stretch into
desired shape and bake as directed.

Recipe adapted slightly from Williams-Sonoma The Best of the Kitchen Library: Baking

This recipe is featured on Foodie Friends Friday Linky Party
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