Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Italian Sausage Calzones with Homemade Marinara

Have extra kiddos over for summer fun?  Have a calzone party!  This is a recipe that is sure to please everyone because you can add just about any ingredients you fancy in them.  I bought this little calzone maker from Williams Sonoma last year, and it has been a really fun kitchen toy.  Most of this can be made ahead of time (the dough and marinara) and assembled before baking.  Let the kids make their own - lots of fun!  In this recipe, everything is made from scratch - the dough, the marinara, and the filling! But feel free to use convenience items if you wish.  The whole point of it is to get the kids involved and have a good time. (And you can hide veggies in the marinara!)

Click for Printable Recipe

Marinara Ingredients:

28 oz can         crushed tomatoes with basil
1 Tbsp             extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves           garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup            diced onion
1/3 cup            diced carrot
fresh herbs       oregano, basil, parsley, thyme
1 cup               red wine (I used a shiraz)
1 1/2 tsp          pizza seasoning (a blend of dried herbs)
1 1/2 tsp          salt
1/4 tsp             red pepper flakes
1 tsp                sugar
1/4 cup            freshly grated parmesan cheese

Dough Ingredients:
2-3 cups            all purpose flour
1 cup                 warm water
1 pkg                 yeast
1 tsp                  salt
2 tsp                  sugar
1 Tbsp               canola or olive oil
1 tsp each          dried herbs (oregano, basil, italian seasoning)
1/3 cup              freshly grated parmesan

Step-by-step
The marinara:
I have been dying to make a "from scratch" marinara.  I felt that it needed to be made from fresh tomatoes (which are not quite good enough yet in March); but after doing some research, it appears that the Italians are not ashamed at all to use good quality canned tomatoes - as they are picked and canned at the height of freshness - so we're going with that!
Herbs from the garden. 
Left to right:  oregano, basil, flat leaf parsley, thyme

The finished marinara
Dough:
Get the pizza stone preheated at 500 F from the very beginning!  I just love putting some fresh herbs into the dough because it has such a prettier finish with all the specks of color in it... and putting the parmesan cheese into the dough gives it a little more saltiness and changes the texture of the finished product. 

  • Mix warm water and yeast, then add sugar.
  • Start adding flour (at least one cup) before adding salt, then add cheese and herbs, then more flour.
  • Kneed the dough for 5 - 8 minutes... stretching and turning each time. It will get nice and elastic with a silky feel.
  • Put the oil in a large bowl, turn the dough ball over a couple of times in the oil to coat. 
  • Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and microwave at Power 1 for 2 minutes, then let rest 10 min. Repeat until dough doubles.
  • Punch down, divide into 6 pieces, and roll out just before ready.
Filling:
I would say here to knock yourself our and go crazy with whatever kind of filling you desire.  I'm really thinking that chicken, artichoke and spinach in a bechamel sauce would be delicious.  Maybe next time!
  • 1 lb       Italian sausage
  • 1 cup    marinara
  • sliced    roma tomatoes
  • chunks  soft fresh mozzarella
  • handful  chopped fresh herbs
  • Pizza blend grated cheese

** I hardly EVER recommend pre-grated cheese, because it has much less flavor than cheese you grate yourself, but a "pizza blend" of cheeses would work really well here (yes - the kind in the bag!).  If I had one criticism of my final dish, it was that it needed to be more gooey with cheese.... so add more cheese!!
chunks of fresh mozzarella
sliced roma tomatoes
  • remove the sausage from the casings and break apart in a skillet.  Cook until the sausage is browned through, but still soft.
  • mix the sausage with a cup of the marinara that you have simmering in that pot and smelling up the house.
  • have other filling ingredients ready - cheese, tomatoes, herbs, etc.
The building process:
This is really the fun part - and the part where you bring in the kids and let everyone participate in the assembly!
  • Roll out a piece of dough on a floured surface until it's approximately an 8 inch circle. Don't forget to flour your rolling pin as well! You can use the open calzone mold as a guide if this is the method you are using.

    An 8-inch dough circle
  • Sprinkle the mold with just a tiny bit of flour.
  • Lay the dough over the open mold and add your filling of choice - I added 1/3 cup of the filling as above, then layered it with thinly sliced tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of more herbs. If you don't have a calzone mold, just add your filling to one side - being careful to not get any filling on the edges. 
  • cover mold
    add fillings
  • Flip the dough over and close the mold, pressing to seal and crimp.
    fold
    crimp
  • If no mold, use your finger to dampen the edges of the dough with water and close the dough, then crimp with a fork to seal.
    top and decorate
    
  • Brush the top of the calzone with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle the top with herbs and grated Parmesan.
  • Transfer calzones two at a time to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.  This will keep them from sticking and allow them to slide off onto the pizza stone.  This is the "stuff" you feel under the bottom of your pizza when you go to a brick oven pizza place.
  • Bake at 500 F for 10 - 12 minutes (I baked all of mine for 10 min).
  • fresh from the oven
Remove from oven with the peel and allow to sit about 5 minutes before eating.  They are like pockets of molten lava at this point, so I don't advise biting into one right out of the oven.
Serve calzones with a little dish of the marinara that you made for "dipping" and a little grating of parmesan.
Enjoy!!
    the finished calzones
  • This recipe yields 6 nice sized calzones.

Want more great recipes?
Please visit my Recipe Index for tons of ideas that you can cook with/for you family!    

Connect with me.  Click here to Subscribe to MenuMusings so you won't miss a thing!  Connect with me on the MenuMusings Facebook Page.   And Follow me on Pinterest.

Here are a few bonus recipes: 

Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Shrimp and Corn Soup

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Baked Chicken Taquitos 
Meatballs Stroganoff 
Tomato Basil Chicken



Written Directions:
Marinara -
Saute the garlic, onion, and carrots in a pot for several minutes until they start to soften.  De-glaze with red wine.  Add crushed tomatoes and rest of the dry seasonings to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes or so until you develop the flavor you like.  Add a handful of mixed, fresh herbs in the last few minutes and then remove from heat.

Dough -
Mix water and yeast then add sugar.  Start adding flour (at least one cup) before adding salt, then add cheese and herbs, then more flour.  Kneed the dough for 5 - 8 minutes... stretching and turning each time. It will get nice and elastic with a silky feel.  Put the oil in a large bowl, turn the dough ball over a couple of times in the oil to coat.  Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and microwave at Power 1 for 2 minutes, then let rest 10 min. Repeat until dough doubles.  Punch down, divide into 6 pieces, and roll out just before ready.

Filling:
I would say here to knock yourself our and go crazy with whatever kind of filling you desire.
I hardly EVER recommend pre-grated cheese, because it has much less flavor than cheese you grate yourself, but a "pizza blend" of cheeses would work really well here (yes - the kind in the bag!).  If I had one criticism of my final dish, it was that it needed to be more gooey with cheese.... so add more cheese!! 

Remove the sausage from the casings and break apart in a skillet.  Cook until the sausage is browned through, but still soft.  Mix the sausage with a cup of the marinara that you have simmering in that pot and smelling up the house.  Have other filling ingredients ready - cheese, tomatoes, herbs, etc.

The building process:
This is really the fun part - and the part where you bring in the kids and let everyone participate in the assembly! Roll out a piece of dough on a floured surface until it's approximately an 8 inch circle. Don't forget to flour your rolling pin as well! You can use the open calzone mold as a guide if this is the method you are using.  Sprinkle the mold with just a tiny bit of flour.  Lay the dough over the open mold and add your filling of choice - I added 1/3 cup of the filling as above, then layered it with thinly sliced tomatoes, chunks of mozzarella cheese, and a sprinkling of more herbs. If you don't have a calzone mold, just add your filling to one side - being careful to not get any filling on the edges. Flip the dough over and close the mold, pressing to seal and crimp.  If no mold, use your finger to dampen the edges of the dough with water and close the dough, then crimp with a fork to seal.  Brush the top of the calzone with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle the top with herbs and grated parmesan.
Transfer calzones two at a time to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with cornmeal.  This will keep them from sticking and allow them to slide off onto the pizza stone.  This is the "stuff" you feel under the bottom of your pizza when you go to a brick oven pizza place.  Bake at 500 F for 10 - 12 minutes (I baked all of mine for 10 min).  Remove from oven with the peel and allow to sit about 5 minutes before eating.  They are like pockets of molten lava at this point, so I don't advise biting into one right out of the oven.  Serve calzones with a little dish of the marinara that you made for "dipping" and a little grating of parmesan.

Notes:
  • These dough balls freeze really well and can be just thawed, and rolled out at a later time.
  • The marinara will just improve in flavor if you make it in advance, and it also freezes well.
  • So.... this recipe lends itself well to making the components ahead of time and having a "make your own calzone" party; or for most of us, prepping the components on the weekend and putting them together for dinner during the busy week.
  • FYI - the Williams-Sonoma Calzone Mold was $12.  That was a lot of entertainment for the money!
  • In a time crunch, I don't see why you couldn't just get the pre-made pizza dough from the can or freezer section.

4 comments:

  1. I’d have to say calzone is one of my favorite food in the world! I just love how its crust is toasted and firm and, the inside is semi-steamed and moist. Your marinara sauce seems like the perfect dip for it and I might just try making it at home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dione -
      Please let me know these come out for you! The marinara was fabulous!
      Julie

      Delete
  2. hi nice one i like it here is different one http://t.co/YQZZbLN1uP

    ReplyDelete
  3. These are soooo good! I made them as a surprise dinner for girls night on Friday and they loved them so much that they said we just had to make them again tonight (barely a week latter lol!). Can't wait :D

    ReplyDelete

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest