Calzones

I consider pizza one of the greatest foods in the world, and I can happily eat it the same way week after week. I consider myself very good at making pizza. Sometimes, though, I like to try something different. Today I thought I would use the dough I’d set aside for this week to make calzones instead of pizza. Calzones use the same ingredients as pizza, just wrapped up inside instead of spread on top, except the sauce: there is no sauce inside a calzone. Instead, you top it with the sauce, or serve the sauce on the side for dipping. Here is what I did:

First, I removed two containers of frozen pizza dough from the freezer (I made this batch with half white whole wheat flour) and let them rise in the refrigerator for a couple of days (overnight is fine). Then, a couple of hours (at least one hour) before bake time, I removed them from the refrigerator.

I pre-heated the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and chopped half a head of broccoli into small florets and put them in a baking dish. Then I chopped about 1/2 pound of cherry tomatoes in half and put them in another baking dish, to which I also added several cloves of smashed garlic. I sprinkled both with flaked salt then drizzled with olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. The broccoli I roasted for about 15 minutes …

… and the tomatoes 45 minutes.

I removed them from the oven and increased the oven temperature to 500.

I made a tofu ricotta by putting about half a pound of firm tofu in a bowl and adding about 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast, some flaked salt, one frozen basil cube, and the juice of half a lemon, then I squeezed all of that together until it was an even consistency. Then I mixed in a hand-full of Daiya mozzarella and a little bit of Daiya cheddar.

I made a marinara by pureeing a 14.5 oz can of whole tomatoes. I heated some olive oil in a small saucepan, added several pressed cloves of garlic, some chili flakes, flaked salt, and freshly ground pepper, and after sauteing for a minute or two, I added the tomatoes, some dried oregano, and a frozen basil cube. I brought that to a boil, then reduced the heat, covered, and simmered for 10 to 15 minutes.

Next I formed the pizza doughs into circles, though not as thin as I make them for pizza, maybe 1/4″ thick. I placed some of the broccoli, roasted tomatoes, and “cheese” mixture in the middle of each, …

… then I folded each over in half and sealed the crusts closed. (You can brush the edges with water to make them stick if you need to.) I poked some holes on top and brushed them with some garlic oil.

They both got transferred to the oven and baked for about 15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Serve with a tossed salad, with the sauce on the side (or spoon the sauce over the calzones).

I tried to get a picture of the inside of the calzone, but we’d gone downstairs – where it is quite dark – and all I had was my phone. I’d probably be better off just not having any picture at all, but I went through the trouble, so here you go:

This was an interesting change of pace but will never replace good old regular pizza in my book.

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Sicilian Baked Tomatoes and Onions

Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is probably my favorite cookbook to turn to when I want something simple but amazing, when I have fresh produce that I want to showcase. I love tofu and seitan as much as the next vegan – don’t get me wrong – but there is something very refreshing about a vegan cookbook with not a single mention of either one: it’s all “naturally vegan” recipes from the Mediterranean. When I needed to use up two tomatoes I got at the farmers market on Saturday, I thought immediately of the baked tomato recipes from this book. There are two baked tomato recipes; I made the Sicilian. I was in a quandary because I wanted to share the recipe, but didn’t want to alter its simplicity to make it enough my own. But then I found that it’s on food.com, so I guess I’ll go ahead and post it. But not without urging you strongly to check out this cookbook. It’s really good. As the author suggests in the book, I made the baked onions at the same time. The two recipes are nearly identical, so I’ve just combined them.

Sicilian Baked Tomatoes and Onions
slightly adapted from Donna Klein’s The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen

2 large tomatoes
2 medium yellow onions, peeled
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp smoked salt, or other flaked, kosher, or sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel the onions.

Place onions in a pot of boiling water and simmer for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside until cool enough to touch.

Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, and use your finger to poke all the seeds out. Drain them as well as possible.

I also cored mine.

When the onions are cool enough to touch, cut them in half.

In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Put the tomatoes and onions into a baking dish into which they just fit.

Fill the holes of the tomatoes up with the bread crumb mixture and sprinkle some more on top. Also sprinkle the onions with the bread crumb mixture.

Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes and onions.

Bake for an hour and a half (yes, really!). Let sit for a few minutes, or allow to come to room temperature, before eating.

Donna Klein suggest serving both of them together over rice or couscous (quinoa would also be good), which I’ve done before and it’s great. Tonight, though I was also having white beans and a salad, so I just served them on their own. The beans are pressure-cooked Great Northern beans, with sauted spring onions, a lot of garlic, imitation bacon bits, and sage, and a generous addition of Bryanna’s bacon salt.

This is the sort of thing I like eating when I want to feel particularly healthy! I served it all with Italian wine, and while it was cooking read some of a funny and very enjoyable Italian book.

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Italian Bread Soup

In her years of extensive research into our family history, I don’t think my mother has found a single Italian ancestor for me (nor does Mark have any, despite his father’s spurious claim that he had “hot Italian blood coursing through [his] veins.”) Nonetheless, I believe I’d make a good honorary Italian for this recipe. Essentially, I had about a third of a loaf of bread leftover from last week’s bake, the crust of which was rock hard, but the inside of which (thanks to my latest invention the “long life” bread bag, and yes, I’ll be making a second one soon for your benefit and doing a tutorial) was still soft. So basically I could get a knife through it, but the crust would have broken your teeth. Like many Italians, I didn’t want it to go to waste, though, so I decided to make bread soup. In fact, practically this entire soup was made from leftovers of one sort of another. I am thrifty!

Italian Bread Soup

1/2 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
6 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups vegan broth (I used the broth leftover from making Smoked Seitan Butt last night)
1 14.5 oz can Roman or white beans
1 cup diced or crushed tomatoes (I used leftover homemade tomato sauce from Friday night’s dinner)
3 cups baby spinach (I had some that was a bit past its prime and thought it would be great for soup)
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
stale white bread, like sourdough, cut or torn into medium-large pieces (you’ll often see “day-old” bread called for, but mine was a full week old)

Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the onions, celery, and carrots. When the onions are translucent, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two, then add the broth, beans, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach and cook for another minute or two, then add the bread and let it become soaked through.

It’s a beautiful day here in Northern Virginia! I’m about to go run some errands, with the top down on my car, it’s so nice! The only downside is the kittens are starting to once again think maybe they should be going outside.

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