Savory Sausage and Red Pepper Calzones

Cooked up on August 22, 2011

Filed under: dinner, uses for leftovers

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Calzones are so delicious and satisfying that it is just a great bonus that they are so easy to make. Especially when you have some frozen homemade pizza dough left over from last time you made a pizza.

Plus, they are great for using up leftover produce – we frequently use 1/2 a large onion or bell pepper one night and then end up with the other half in the fridge waiting to be used. When you have a great star player like some spicy Italian sausage, you can use what’s in your fridge to make a powerful supporting cast. We did go to the store for the sausage and mushrooms, but everything else we used was a leftover or already at home.

And it turned out pretty darn good!

Here’s what you will need for two generously-sized calzones:

  • 1/3 lb. Italian sausage (go with the hot/spicy option!)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 large white or yellow onion
  • 2 large white mushrooms
  • Tomato sauce or canned/stewed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup mozzarella
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
  • Pizza dough – enough for one large pizza, divided in two

The most difficult part about this is crafting the pocket of crust itself, and that isn’t too difficult at all.

Divide your pizza dough in half and roll it out between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Then lay both out on a baking sheet that has both a silpat and plenty of cornmeal on it so the crust doesn’t stick. Eventually you will be folding the circle over into a half-circle, and  the cornmeal will make that much, much easier.

In the meantime, brown the sausage and then add the onions, peppers, garlic and mushrooms (in that order – think most dense to least dense). I would advise chopping them just a smidge smaller than you would for a stir-fry or putting them on top of a pizza, just to make it easier to close the dough shell.

When everything is fully cooked, add some tomato sauce – probably 1/3 to 1/2 cup will give everything a nice coating without making it soupy.

Transfer half of the fillings onto each of the rolled-out pizza crusts. Try and put your pile of fillings slightly off-center – you want the crust they are nearest to on one side to have about an inch of clean crust to fold with.

Top with the cheese and then fold the emptier side of the pizza dough over the toppings. Be very careful here – depending on a million things (the amount of cornmeal, the temperature, humidity, etc.) your dough will probably stick at least a little despite your best efforts. Slowly peel it off and bring the edge to meet the other side of the dough, where you left 1 inch of space. Use that 1 inch of space to fold over the top part of the crust so it holds it down and seals the calzone shut.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes – all you are looking for at this point is for your crust to be done, since your insides are already cooked and probably have melted the cheese before you even get them in the oven. Hooray for short bake times!

They’ll be ready to go in no time! Which is good, because they will also disappear in no time, like good food is wont to do 🙂

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