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Judging from the lack of reactions yesterday, it seems like everyone is tired of Brussels Sprouts? OK, no more of those for a while. Today I’m back with something that has a little more mass appeal – calzones! I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a calzone. These are jam-packed with eggplant, caramelized onion, red bell pepper, and just a touch of sausage. Served with a side of sauce for dunking, they make a fun and easy dinner that’s bursting with fresh flavor. The neat little package shape also makes them extremely portable, and the leftovers make a great lunch at work the next day.

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What I like most about calzones it that you can really stuff them with fillings. With pizza, I usually like to keep toppings relatively simple and limit myself to 2 or 3 things. But with calzones, I feel like i can go all out since it’s really all about the flavor. You can throw in whatever leftover vegetables you have on hand, or plan your fillings out more methodologically like I did here. I really wanted to use caramelized onions, and eggplant sounded like a nice change. I added some red bell pepper for color and a sausage link for zip. Topped it all off with a healthy serving of fresh basil and couldn’t have been happier with the results!

A note on dough: If you don’t want to make the dough yourself, most pizzeria’s will sell you some unbaked dough. Or you can buy it in the grocery store – Price Chopper here actually has a decent house made dough that they sell frozen in big hunks and Pillsbury makes a pizza dough that isn’t bad in a pinch. But really, it doesn’t take much effort to make your own. If you plan ahead, you can mix up a batch of no-knead dough the night before you plan to bake these. Or, if you have time to let dough rise on the day that you want to make them, you can use the Master Recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. This recipe really involves very little effort – you just combine the ingredients, let it rise, and shape it! The flavor is really nice, and I thought that the texture was great for calzones since it was a little breadier than a pizza dough. You can find the recipe for that here, but I’m sure they would much rather you buy their book to get it. The book is great, and I highly recommend it if you like freshly baked bread with little effort!

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Eggplant and Sausage Calzones

  • 1 grapefruit-sized hunk of pizza dough (such as a half batch of Artisan Bread in 5’s Master Recipe)
  • 1 link hot Italian sausage
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 medium eggpant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn
  • cornmeal for dusting
  • sauce for serving

Heat oven to 450. If using a pizza stone, set that into the oven now.

Remove casing and roughly crumble the sausage. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook. When the sausage is nearly cooked through, add the onions. Cook slowly until the soften and begin to turn golden brown – about 7 minutes. Add the eggplant and red pepper and cook another few minutes until they soften.

Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Sprinklecornmeal over your rolling surface. Roll each piece of dough out into a circle between 1/4 and 1/2-inch thick. Divide the ricotta between the four pieces of dough, spreading it over half of each circle. Top with a little bit of shredded parmesan, and then with a good amount of the vegetable and sausage mixture. (You may have a little bit of the veggie mixture left over). Top with torn basil. Gently stretch the remaining dough over the fillings, to completely enclose it in a pouch. Use Your fingers to pinch the edges closed.Use a sharp knife to make a few slashes in the top of each calzone to allow steam to escape.

Transfer the calzones to the pizza stone, or to a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the bread is crusty – it should be hard enough make a slight noise when you tap on it.

Serve with a side of sauce for dipping.

Serves 4.
Approx. 550 calories, 15 grams fat, 4 grams fiber, 23.5 grams protei
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