Enormous Sausage, Onion and Pepper Calzone
These things are tasty.
They are also huge.
I’d suggest making them using frozen dinner rolls instead of frozen bread loaves (even divided into thirds, they took up half a plate). Then invite a bunch of friends over to watch a game, and chow down. Sounds like a good time. I enjoy feeding people. I think I inherited it from my grandma. She likes nothing better than to fill her home with a big, chaotic group (aka, my family) and weight down her small kitchen island with dish after dish.
The filling is rich, what with the pork sausage, ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan. It’s also quite mild; the recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. I couldn’t taste any heat, so I think you could increase that to 3/4 or even 1 whole teaspoon, and get just the right amount of heat. Disclaimer: I have been known to be very, very wrong about the spiciness of food… Also, I often misread recipe instructions. For instance, this time I cooked the calzones at 350 instead of 400. No doubt the higher temperature will give you a better-looking crust!
The recipe made 9 calzones, which means our freezer now holds 4 of these puppies, just waiting for that day I don’t have the time – or the inclination! – to cook something new. Then, I’ll pull them out, thaw them for a few hours and pop them in the oven at 400 until they are light golden brown.
The Homemade Marinara Sauce is dee-lightful as well. So fresh and flavorful, it’s hard to believe the tomatoes come from a can. That’s my kind of recipe. The sneaky kind. (Recipe adjustments: I added 2 teaspoons of dried oregano and 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, plus a couple Tablespoons of minced fresh parsley, and used 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes.)
Did I mention these are both Pioneer Woman recipes? You can always count on the Pioneer Woman. In fact, I am 90% sure I’m using her Cowboy Quiche recipe when I host a little brunch next week. For your cooking ease, though, I am copying her recipes below – and including any changes I made to the recipes. If you want the unadulterated versions, click on her link above.
Sausage, Onion and Pepper Calzones
3 whole frozen, un-risen bread loaves (I used Rhodes, can also use frozen dinner rolls)
1 tablespoon butter
1 whole medium onion, diced
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 pound breakfast sausage
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional: increase to 3/4 teaspoon)
15 ounces whole milk ricotta
1 1/2 cups finely shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 whole eggs plus 1 whole egg, beaten
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Marinara Sauce, warmed, for serving, recipe follows
Place the frozen bread loaves on a baking sheet to thaw. Cover with a tea towel and let thaw and rise for 2 to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and allow to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the sausage and cook until brown, crumbling the sausage as you stir. Add the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Remove from the skillet and allow to cool on a plate.
In a separate bowl, combine the ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, salt, some pepper, parsley and 2 eggs.
When the sausage is cool, stir it into the cheese mixture and set aside.
When the loaves are thawed and risen, divide them into thirds (or quarters) and roll each out on a lightly floured surface until paper thin. Spoon 1/4 to 1/2 cups of the filling onto half of the dough circle. Fold half of the dough over itself, and then press the edges with a fork to seal.
Brush the surface of each calzone with the beaten egg, and then bake until nice and golden brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Serve with warm Marinara Sauce.
3 to 4 whole cloves garlic, minced
1 whole small to medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
Salt and ground black pepper
Couple pinches sugar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Minced fresh parsley, to taste (about 1/4 cup)
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a hot pan over medium-high heat and throw in the garlic and chopped onions and give them a stir.
Now add the wine (or chicken broth), whisking to deglaze the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the liquid reduces by half.
Add the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus sugar, oregano and Italian seasoning. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
Toward the end of the cooking process, chop up your fresh parsley and add it to the sauce to taste, stirring to combine. Adjust salt, pepper and sugar as needed.
Kitchen Mommy’s Note: Leftovers freeze well! To defrost, just sit on your kitchen counter for a couple hours (but is that up to health codes?) or run warm water over the sides of your freezer container, then drop the frozen sauce into a saucepan and reheat on low until thawed and warm (probably closer to health codes).