Monday, August 15, 2011

Whole wheat spinach, ricotta and spicy sausage calzones

Q:  What's for dinner tonight?
A:  Calzones

But not just any calzone, a traditional Italian kind with a spicy kick.  You see, when I grew up, calzones were just inverted pizzas with the crust all over.  I never thought that they could be more than just American shredded moz cheese and pepperoni, side-kicked with store bought Ragu for dipping.  It wasn't until a college trip to Italy, did I find what a real calzone could be. 

This calzone takes the traditional spinach and ricotta cheese pairing up a notch, with the addition of a very hot and spicy Italian sausage.  I used fresh spinach (instead of the frozen box kind) and real minced garlic (which anyone can say makes all the difference!)  I also used a half white and whole wheat flour mixture instead of using only white.  I find that half & half flour recipes create meals that keep one satiated. 

Below, you'll find my step by step progress through this easy and delicious meal.

Whole wheat spinach, ricotta and spicy sausage calzones
(Yields four calzones)

Dough Ingredients:
1/2 Cup (plus extra 1/2 cup for kneading) White All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Package of instant dry fast acting yeast
1 teaspoon White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 Cup of warm water (120 degrees or so)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Cheese Filling Ingredients:
3/4 Cup Ricotta
3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 
1 Large Egg
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper

Other Ingredients:
Three sausage links of choice, casings discarded
2 Cups Fresh Spinach, washed and dried
1/4 Cup of water
1/4 Cup Diced White Onion
1 Tablespoon Minced Garlic
Salt and Pepper to season

Oven Temperature:  375 Degrees Fahrenheit 

Prepare Dough.  Start by mixing together the flours, yeast, salt and sugar.  Add the olive oil and water and stir to create a sticky dough.  Dust a clean surface and knead in the other 1/2 Cup of white flour to create a firm dough that does not stick.  Place in a clean and greased bowl and cover with a fresh linen.  Set the bowl aside while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Wash and dry about 2 Cups of fresh spinach.  Break off any stems.  Tear leaves in half if large.

Dice onion and mince garlic.

Cook sausage in large skillet.  Once the meat is cooked through, about 10 minutes, drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Next cook onion and garlic with some olive oil.  Salt and pepper to season.  Once onions are soft (about 5 minutes) add the spinach with a 1/4 Cup of water.  Place lid on pan to wilt the leaves.  Once leaves are wilted (about 2 minutes) drain any excess water and add back the sausage to the pan. Cook all ingredients through for an extra couple of minutes.  Turn off burner and set pan aside.

Create cheese filling.  Add ricotta and mozzarella cheese, pepper, and one egg to a small bowl.  Mix all ingredients together until well blended.  Set bowl aside.

With a floured surface ready, divide dough into four equal quarters.  Roll out each quarter of dough to form a circle with a diameter of 8".  With cheese mixture at hand, spread out a small portion on half of the circle of dough.  Next, place a spoonful of the meat mixture.

Fold over the dough to form a half circle.  Pinch ends closed and place calzone on a prepared baking sheet using a flour-dusted spatula. 

Using a small knife, make three slits on each calzone.  Next, brush the calzones with olive oil and sprinkle salt on top to finish them off. 

Place calzones into the center of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

When the calzones are done, they should be a nice golden brown.  Place on a wire rack to cool for about 5 minutes before picking one up and tearing into it!  The bread should be warm, with a slight sweet taste, while the inside is savory and spicy.  



  1. wow you could open up a shop! this made me hungry! Of course I'm always Hungry though

  2. Thanks Mike! I'm sure that you'd love to be a taste tester if I did open one up!