I have always loved pizza pockets. All that cheesy goodness wrapped into a crispy cocoon just seems like genius. I think I was in high school before my mom found a recipe to try. She had been making homemade pizza for years and Totino’s Pizza Rolls were a somewhat regular snack, but she hadn’t crossed the two in her kitchen to make her own pizza pockets. I remember trips to the mall, walking past Sbarro, salivating over those golden brown calzones under the heat lamp. I never tried one, though.
So when I grew up and found my way into a good pizza dough recipe, I started adding calzones into the menu. I’ll admit that pizza is my favorite food, and I find no shame in figuring out as many variations as possible to incorporate into my meal plan. “Straight up” homemade pizza, deep dish, pan, grilled on a pizza stone, grilled without a pizza stone, stuffed crust, homemade frozen, calzones, stromboli… I’ve tried it all. Being a stay-at-home mom, I have some flexibility with time, so making pizza dough is really no big deal–I kind of like it, with that small amount of therapeutic kneading and a not-too-long rising time. Give me some yeast, flour, sauce, cheese, and an hour, and I’ll give you homemade pizza.
So, last week I stumbled across a recipe in the Good Eating section of the Chicago Tribune (a big reason for why we subscribe, at least that’s what I think) for Grilled Calzones. To be honest, the idea had crossed my mind, but I wasn’t sure if I was brave enough to try it–would the insides actually cook before the outside turned charred? After trying this recipe, it turns out that, yes, they would and they did.
I made my usual pizza dough, though I swapped half of the water with beer. I also subbed the toppings (I didn’t have spinach, but I had mushrooms, olives, and pepperoni to go with the ricotta and mozzarella). After the calzones came off the grill I rubbed butter over the tops and sprinkled Parmesan cheese and garlic powder over them, pseudo- Crazy Bread style.
I’m excited to have another pizza variation in my pocket of recipes. I don’t have a heating lamp or a neon sign, but I do have a grill, cold beer, and seating on my deck. You won’t get a bill but you will get conversation. And if you’re nice, I’ll even let you have dessert. My treat.
Homemade Pizza Dough
- 1 cup water
- 1 package or 2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 cups flour
Dissolve yeast in water in large bowl. Add rest of ingredients; stir until dough forms and all ingredients are combined. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or until dough is smooth. Place in greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes or until doubled (set oven to 200 degrees, turn off, and place bowl in oven; or if you’re making it earlier, place the bowl in the fridge for a few hours to slow the rising—it’ll be ready by dinner).
from The Chicago Tribune
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 18 minutes
Makes: 6 calzones
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- Pinch salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 ounces baby spinach
- 1/2 cup each: ricotta, mozzarella
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds store-bought pizza dough
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- Heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion with a pinch of salt until it turns soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic; cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the spinach. Stir gently until the spinach wilts and any liquid released evaporates. Allow to cool.
- Combine the spinach mixture with the ricotta and mozzarella in a small bowl. Taste; add salt and pepper as desired.Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a 7- to 8-inch circle roughly 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured work surface. If the dough shrinks back while rolling, let it rest 5 minutes before trying again.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons tomato sauce onto the bottom half of each calzone, leaving a 1/2-inch clean border. Spread 1/3 cup filling on top of the tomato sauce; fold the top of the dough over; pinch to seal. Sprinkle both sides of the calzone with a little extra flour to prevent sticking. Repeat with the remaining calzones.
- Heat a gas grill with two zones: a medium-hot zone and a medium-cool zone. (On a charcoal grill, heap the hot coals to one side to create two zones.) Brush the grill with oil. Grill the calzones, with the lid on, in the hot zone until the underside has formed a hard crust and shows grill marks, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the calzones; grill, 2 to 3 minutes. Move the calzones to the cooler zone; cook until the sides form a hard crust and turned golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.