Nessy’s Calzones with Dipping Sauce

So, if you got the memo, you know I’ve gone vegetarian. Right now I’m sort of struggling with this as for me, “vegetarian lifestyle” has, in the past, amounted to an over-reliance on soy (mostly tofu) and cheese. Well, these calzones are no exception to this except I have given myself the additional challenge of learning to work with yeast breads – which I have had bad luck with in the past. In light of this I have included some tips on yeast dough making that should serve well for any yeast bread-making venture.

This recipe is adapted from Nessy’s but is non-vegan (using soy cheese would make it so).

1 1/2 cups hot tap water
1 packet of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups flour (premeasure as per method below)

2 heads broccoli
12 ounces mozzerella cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces spinach, washed, drained and de-stemmed (or use half a bag, for God’s sakes)
1 can black olives (6 ounces)

Dipping sauce
1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
6 ounce can paste (6 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar

olive oil

Whisk the water and yeast until it’s disolved, then add the sugar and salt and whisk again. Mix in the flour, stir with your hand or in a mixer with a dough hook (if you’re lucky you have this; I don’t). Knead dough until it’s elastic. Let rise in warm oiled bowl, covered for about 20 minutes. Punch it down and then re-cover and rise again for 10-20 minutes.

While dough is rising, make the fillings. Boil a large pot of water. Blanch and drain the spinach, pressing water out. Set aside. Refill pot and heat water to boil. Gently boil broccoli about 5 to 10 minutes or until barely tender. Grate the mozzerella and chop the garlic.

Cut or crumble tofu. In a frying pan, heat olive oil and saute minced garlic for a couple minutes or until soft. Add spinach, tofu, salt and pepper. Cook a few minutes till mixture is dry.

When dough is ready, divide into four. Roll out dough segment to 1/4″ thinness or so (think of how large a calzone typically is). Fill up 1/2 of each dough circle, fold over and seal the edges with a fork. Bake in an oiled baking pan, in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes (until crust is golden brown).

While calzones are baking, make the sauce – open three cans, stir the sugar, heat to boil and reduce to a simmer! (my kind of tomato sauce) Remove calzones from oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before eating. Serve with warm sauce to dip or pour on top.

Working With Yeast Doughs
The ever-informative but oh-so-cluttered has some lovely bread tips but you should know this: the information there is ONLY non-scary if you understand the variance in breadmaking, if you trust the recipe, and if you have also had some success on which to rest your laurels. Here are my tips – for this recipe and others.

Calzone-Making Tips!

  • Wash hands, remove rings, and – if possible – make sure you don’t have ho-nails.
  • Measuring flour – important. Unless your recipe specifies otherwise, measure the flour by scooping it into dry measuring cups and leveling off. Put this flour into a bowl, premeasured and waiting for you to add to the liquid / yeast mixture.
  • As you start to add flour in, you can add most of it in in large amounts, stirring constantly. When the dough starts to be difficult to work, decrease the amount you add the flour in. The dough is ready to come out of the bowl when it is “tacky” but not sticky – this means if you put your thumb on it, it should feel like a post-it note.
  • Find a timer so you can knead the dough for the 8 to 10 minutes. The purpose of kneading is mostly to get air worked into the dough and to create gluten.
  • After dough is kneaded, generously oil a bowl, pop the dough in, and allow for it’s first rising. I have found dough likes a relatively warm area to rise. I usually heat my oven to 150 – 200, turn the oven off, then pop in the covered bowl. Please realize – dough rises according to lots of factors (specifically, how dry ambient air is, for one) so you will need to find your own method. If you overdo the heat of the rising area, you will likely develop a crusty skin on your dough which isn’t a big deal.
  • The purpose of “punching down” you should not puncture the dough. You are releasing carbon dioxide and allowing the dough to build structure again.

Good luck!

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