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Calzones with Pesto, Zucchini, and Spinach

I’m just going to throw this out there: I love pizza… but I might love calzones even more. Basically pizza in pocket form, calzones can be stuffed with just about anything your little heart desires. On this particular occasion, my heart was pitter-pattering over vibrant homemade pesto, creamy ricotta cheese (part-skim, of course), tender zucchini, and fresh spinach.

One might even call these “green” calzones, what with the trifecta of verdant vegetables.

A bit of fresh mozzarella probably would have put these calzones over the top, but alas we had none on hand. That being said, the rich ricotta did a splendid job of satisfying my craving for something cheesy.

For some reason I find it immensely gratifying to eat an entire meal with my hands.  The pockets of crisp pizza dough encapsulating the piping hot cheese-and-veggie filling negate the need for any utensils, and the hands-only eating experience is only heightened when you have a bowl of steaming marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

If you’re a fan of pizza (and really, who isn’t?) then you will love these calzones!

Calzones with Pesto, Zucchini, and Spinach

yields 4 calzones

Ingredients:

  • homemade or store-bought dough for 1 pizza, at room temperature
  • flour, for rolling out pizza dough
  • 1 batch homemade oil-less vegan pesto* (commercial pesto tends to be super oily, which makes for a soggy calzone)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini squash, preferably organic
  • 1 cup tightly packed baby spinach, preferably organic
  • 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • homemade or store-bought marinara sauce, warmed, for dipping

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Divide pizza dough into 4 equal pieces. On a clean, lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 1/4 inch thick circle of about 7 inches in diameter. Place all dough circles onto a non-stick (or lined) baking sheet.
  3. Evenly divide the pesto amongst the 4 dough circles, spreading it across half of each and leaving a 1/2 inch border. Set aside.
  4. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shredded zucchini to skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add spinach to skillet and toss until wilted. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  5. In a medium bowl, stir together the ricotta and the zucchini/spinach mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Evenly divide the ricotta and vegetable mixture between the 4 dough circles, spreading it on top of the pesto. Each dough circle should still have a clean half.
  7. Fold the clean half of each dough circle up and over the filled half. Pinch/crimp dough edges together to form half circles. Gently pierce the top of each calzone a few times with a fork.
  8. Place baking sheet into the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the calzones are golden brown.
  9. Let calzones rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes before serving with the warmed marinara sauce.

*Oil-less Vegan Pesto

adapted from Ashley of The Edible Perspective

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup water (or more, depending on desired consistency)
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Direction:

  1. Combine walnuts, basil, and garlic in a food processor or high speed blender and process/blend until well-mixed.
  2. With the motor running, stream water through feed tube until pesto comes together in a smooth and thick sauce, adding more water if desired.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


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3 thoughts on “Calzones with Pesto, Zucchini, and Spinach

  1. Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique.

    P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!
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