Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Calzones

There's this little Italian pizzeria in Denver near where my Grandpa lives called "Rico's." They make The Best Calzones I've ever had. Maybe it's because Rico is really Italian. And so are most of his kitchen staff (family members, by the look of things). The dough is perfect, the cheese melty and stringy and delicious, and the calzone is smothered in sauce. Most of the food they sell is for take-out as their little restaurant only seats about 20 people in their cramped booths and tables sitting almost in the middle of the walk-ways.
And the best part of all is if you're female and Rico isn't too busy with other things, he will shout "Ciao, Bella!" as you walk out the door. My dream is to go back and have Rico shout "Beautiful" to me. He didn't last time. Maybe one day...
I'm quite sure that if Rico had a bite of these calzones he would throw his Italian hands up in the air in dismay No sauce? Only one kind of cheese? Where's the MEAT?" But that aside, I think they're pretty dang tasty. I have an undying love for caramelized onions and red peppers, and these calzones contain both, so I'm pretty well satisfied. Except for the "Bella" part. No one called me Bella as I took these out of the oven.

In all honesty, you could really put almost anything in here. Tonight I'm dreaming of Gorgonzola cheese with my caramelized onions (another favorite), but we have been known to go as simple as tomatoes and basil, to mushrooms and caramelized onions, sausage and pepperoni with sauce, or even add a dollop of ricotta cheese to whatever mix of vegetables I have lying around. So go wild. I do recommend at least trying the roasted red peppers and spinach, but if that doesn't tickle your fancy, I'm sure you can think of something to stuff them with.

Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Calzones
Recipe by Kelly
Pictures by Kelly

1 large onion, halved and sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5 ounces spinach (8 packed cups)
2 red peppers, seeded and cut into quarters*
2 cups mozarella cheese, grated
1 batch of pizza dough (below) or 1 pound store-bought pizza dough, thawed
  1. Preheat oven to high broil. Place red peppers on a cookie sheet skin side up and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Broil until skins begin to blister and turn black, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool about 5 minutes. Peel skins off and cut into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Stir in red peppers, pepper, and salt, to taste. Remove from heat.
  4. Divide dough into 4 pieces. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into about a 6-inch circle. Put about 1/4 of filling on the lower half, leaving a 1/2 inch border, and top with cheese. 
  5. Fold dough over to enclose filling. Seal edges. Beginning in 1 corner, stretch sealed edge outward, pinching and rolling dough up over edge to resemble a rope, working your way around. Transfer to baking sheet. Cut 3 steam vents in top of each and brush with remaining tablespoon oil. Repeat for remaining 3 balls of dough. 
  6. Bake until golden-brown, about 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.
*As a faster option, buy bottled roasted red peppers. It will save you time and maybe even money if the peppers are out of season.

Pizza dough
from Betty Crocker's Cookbook

2 1/2 to 3 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup very warm water
  1. Mix 1 cup of the flour, the sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. 
  2. Add oil and warm water and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of the bowl. Knead until dough is smooth and springy.
  4. Place in a large bowl and let rest about 30 minutes. Prepare pizza or calzones.


Kristi said...

yum....I am so going to Rico's this weekend...it's been on my mind the last few days. This post has just reinforced that idea. Can't. wait.

The Garcias said...

I love your recipes. They are mouth-watering! The thing I love about this is the pizza dough recipe! I have been searching for a good one for a while. Since you have this one, I trust it will be great! Thanks!

two little chefs said...

Kristi- I am so so jealous. I wish you could express mail me one...

two little chefs said...

The Garcias- Thanks! I hope the dough lives up to your expectations! If you're making regular pizza rather than a calzone, I recommend sprinkling a bit of cornmeal on your pizza stone (or tray).

hmc said...

Ahh. Dinner plans for tonight just changed. Thanks!

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