Spinach-Ricotta Calzone: pizza in principle

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Calzone: the prim & proper pizza eater’s answer to the ooze and drip of melted cheese, hot sauce, and ungainly toppings.

Let’s just call it outside-in pizza.

If you’re a lover of thin-crust pizza, you know that it can be a bit fragile, structurally speaking. Loading thin-crust pizza with anything more than the merest layer of sauce, perhaps pepperoni and paper-thin mushroom slices, plus a drizzle (not a blizzard) of cheese can result in the dreaded FLOP.

As in pick up pizza slice, move hand towards mouth, and FLOP: triangular end of pizza responds to gravity’s command, dipping downwards with its burden of hot sauce and oozy cheese, which in turn sliiiiiiiides off said crust into your lap. Or onto your shirt front.

Been there, done that.

The solution? The self-contained calzone, picky moms’ solution to tomato-stained T-shirts.

A calzone is nothing so much as a thin-crust pizza topped on only half its surface, then folded over on itself. The fillings are sealed inside; the folded-over pizza – a.k.a. calzone – bakes up golden brown; and its top-and-bottom crust safely contains all the delicious (and messy) topping ingredients, which have now become filling.

The following simple recipe for Spinach-Ricotta Calzone comes from our Baking Education Center, where you can learn to bake everything from these simple calzone to multi-layered croissant.

Visiting Vermont this summer? Check out the BEC’s course schedule, now posted through July 2013.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Place the following in a bowl (or the bucket of your bread machine):

2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup lukewarm water*

*How much water should you use? Well, it’s best to start with the lesser amount, as you can always add more (but can’t add less). And here’s a rule of thumb: Use the lesser amount in the summer, the greater amount in the winter, and somewhere in between in the spring and fall. Your goal is a soft dough.

Mix and knead — using your hands, a mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough setting — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Can you make this with whole wheat flour? Try substituting 1/2 cup of whole wheat for 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour, to start; if you like the result, increase the amount of whole wheat flour next time.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other rising container (an 8-cup measure works well), cover it, and let it rise until it’s just about doubled in bulk, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half.

While the dough rests for a few minutes, make the filling.

Combine the following in a small bowl:

10 ounces spinach (fresh or frozen), cooked, drained, and squeezed completely dry
1 cup ricotta cheese, whole-milk or part-skim
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

Working with one half at a time, place the dough on a piece of parchment, or onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Pat it into a 10″ to 11″ circle.

Spread half of each disk of dough with half the filling. Fold the unfilled half over the filling, crimping and pressing the edges together to seal.

If you’ve shaped the dough on parchment, lift the parchment onto a baking sheet. Or, if you have a pizza stone in your oven, place the parchment on a peel, for easiest transport.

Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top of each calzone, to allow steam to escape. Brush with olive oil.

Or brush with a thin layer of pizza sauce, and top with shredded cheese.

Let the calzone rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 450°F.

Bake the calzone for 18 to 22 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

Like this. (Yes, I DO like this!)

Slice into pieces to serve.

What did I tell you? Like a slice of thin-crust pizza, folded over.

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Spinach-Ricotta Calzone.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. fran16250

    WOW!! This looks great. I’d throw a little diced prociutto in this filling too. I sometimes make the dough and let everyone build their own; some like ham, pepperoni, ricotta and mozzarella, others like buffalo chicken and mozzarella inside. Never tried the spinach but I think I’d love it. I really like to idea of some cheese on the outside; makes them look loverly!

    Reply
  2. marcin

    Irresistible. I can’t wait to try these–a day in the garden, and supper of these. Wonderful March! Hope you are seeing a little sun up there. The Cape Cod clouds finally cleared out this morning. And there are flowers coming up everywhere. In New England, Spring is earned.

    Reply
  3. Clayful@gmail.com

    We tried this and it was great! We made one with spinach and one with cooked, seasoned (onion and bacon) collard greens. Going to add garlic and a touch of lemon juice this time
    Thanks for the ideas! Elisabeth

    Reply
  4. junglejana

    Wow another tasty recipe to make again. This was great! Made it just like the pics and both versions were well received. I rushed the first rise by putting my rising bucket in warm water, shorted the second rise as my oven preheats fast and it still came out wonderful! A definite do again. Thanks

    Thanks so much for giving our recipe the thumbs up!-Jon

    Reply
  5. Gambles

    HELP! I really want to try this recipe, but I have had such trouble with calzones or even just trying to stuff mozzarella in pizza dough that I had completely given up. Now I really want to try this recipe, but I am somewhere between angry at my failures and determines to try just one more time.

    My main problem is that no matter what I do, I can’t get dough to seal closed. It always leaks out. I even tried to use a large muffin pan so that the seal faced up. I have tried to seal with egg, egg whites, cream, and water. I do use your “easy roll dough improver” if that matters. I’m also not very good at getting the crust very thin.

    I have your turnover set, metal set of crimper things (which were definitely not the right tool for me) and forks, of course. Nothing stays sealed. I also have your pie crust bag which is great for rolling – especially for keeping the dough from drying out when I have to walk away to let the gluten rest.

    With all of that, I still keep failing. I would dearly love to make stuffed crust pizza or just stuffed crust that is dipped in sauce. Now I found this recipe which sounds heavenly. I just really don’t want to end up wasting more time and money with nothing to show for it but frustration.

    I was thrilled when I saw a blog attached to these calzones as blogs have taught me so very much. I never thought I would be able to tie beautiful pretzels or garlic knots. Thanks so very much for that!

    Now I need very specific help with calzones. Is there something I am skipping or doing wrong? I’ve obviously tried to be very specific with the hopes that something would jump out at you as an easy fix for me. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Am I the only one with these problems?

    Thanks,
    Suzanne
    Hi Suzanne! Are you venting the tops of your calzones? Without the vent, the steam has no escape and it can cause the filling to burst out of the dough seams, even if you do seal it properly. Make two or three cuts in the top of the calzones before baking and see if that helps. ~Amy

    Reply
  6. Elaine

    This recipe is fantastic! The dough is super easy to work with by hand. I chose to put the sauce and cheese on top and they came out exactly like the picture here! So yummy! I’m going to try to make sweet calzones (does that exist) using this dough today and peaches for the filling…

    Reply
  7. Jo

    Its friggin amazing! I used feta and cheddar mix instead of ricotta, but only because I dont eat ricotta, and it was amazing. Busy making it again right now… Rise dough! Rise! Im hungry :)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Absolutely, Jo – cut back the water by 1 tablespoon, to account for whole wheat’s greater absorption; and go for it! PJH

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Glad these worked out well for you – nothing like warm, melting cheese and crusty crust, eh? :) PJH

  8. Robin

    Can’t wait to make this tomorrow!!! I have all the ingredients already to go and was wondering what to make. Just like you read my mind.

    Reply
  9. Maria (BearMountainBooks)

    I did use half white whole wheat in the dough. The dough was very easy to work with, sealed well and everything tasted great! I added mushrooms, onions and red pepper to the spinach as it cooked, drained everything well and then mixed in the ricotta. I also added mozzarella cheese! Next time I’d add even more mozzarella and perhaps some herbs (or salt–I left out salt thinking the cheese would be salty enough). Quite excellent and easier to handle than a pizza. We were able to get the crust thin without a problem and no flopping. I made a nice tomato sauce with basil and oregano for dipping. Thanks for the great recipe!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Maria, so glad you liked your calzone. Your filling sounds yummy! Thanks for adding your enthusiastic feedback here – PJH

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