The time has come! I’ve been hinting at these vegan calzones for a while now, and I have finally brought them to you. This recipe has been tested more than any other that I have shared. And my husband has not complained one little bit. I think he would be thrilled if I put them into a weekly rotation. Although, the other night, I offered to make them, and he was all, “nah, I’m calzoned out.” After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I set off to make…pizza. With all the same ingredients I normally put in a calzone. He ate it with gusto. Go figure.
Not only have I tested this recipe a bazillion times, I have also tested it while talking my mom through the process step-by-step. My little man (three months old now!) was born via emergency c-section, and for the first two weeks I wasn’t able to do much at all, including cook. I have a very sweet memory of my mom coming over to make calzones, and me in a rocking chair in the kitchen feeding Josh and telling my mom what to do. She’d walk over and give me little taste tests along the way, and I would tell her to add more salt, or garlic, or whatever. And she did a fantastic job! Go Mom!
So, yes, a calzone is basically a folded pizza. But for some reason, it seems like a totally different thing. And a great one, at that. Ready to dive in?
Ok, so the dough. I’ve tried several different doughs for this recipe, and believe me when I tell you that while it might be (slightly) cheaper to make your own, please make things easier on yourself and use a storebought dough. Most grocery stores have them ready to go. My favorite is the whole wheat dough from Trader Joe’s – it’s a dream to work with and is very affordable. You can even ask to buy dough from your favorite pizzeria! One day, I might perfect the whole wheat calzone dough at home, but for now, I’m a fan of convenience. Did I mention I have a toddler and a baby?
Whatever dough you use, just bring it to room temp on the counter while you’re preparing the filling. Easy peasy. This is also a good time to start warming up your favorite tomato sauce on the stove. And preheat your oven to 425 F. I know, I know, I’m posting this in the summer. But THESE ARE WORTH THE HEAT. Trust me.
Next we have, the cheese! Being me, of course I found a way to get some veggies in it. This spinach ricotta is vegan, but you would NEVER KNOW IT. It’s crazypants delicious. And, it’s oil-free! Let’s get to it.
First, pulse one cup of raw cashews along with garlic, salt, white/light miso, and nutritional yeast until it is a very fine meal, but isn’t starting to break down into cashew butter. Like this.
Next, add two cups of fresh spinach (or 1 cup of frozen spinach) along with some extra-firm tofu and basil and pulse that bad boy up until it looks, well, like spinach ricotta.
See what I mean, yo?
One last thing about the ricotta before I forget. I have been using these great little frozen cubes of garlic and basil by Dorot lately. I found them in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s and they are so wonderful! When cooking from scratch it’s really great to be able to cut the prep time down, even if just for a couple of ingredients. Just had to share.
Ok, that’s done. Now we need the rest of the filling, which is baker’s choice. I typically go with more veggies, but I often throw in some Italian Field Roast sausage. But there are always, always mushrooms in our calzones. This time around I went with mushrooms and olives. Watch out for the olive bandit! She’s a sneaky little thing.
Sauté your veggies and toss them with a few tablespoons of your sauce of choice. This brings a little extra flavor to the party and also helps the filling and the cheese stay together in the dough.
Ok, now you have a decision to make. Do you want 8 small calzones or 4 big ones? Once you’ve made up your mind, cut your dough ball into equal pieces. As you can see, I went with 8. They are easier to hold and eat, and I have a lot of experience to back up this claim.
Roll out a piece of dough into a circle-ish shape (it doesn’t have to be perfect), as thin as you can get it without it breaking. I like to use a little bit of olive oil on the rolling pin to make the rolling process easier and prevent sticking, but that’s optional. Top the dough with about 1/4 cup of the spinach ricotta, and another 1/4 cup of the filling.
Fold one half of the dough over the top, and pinch all of the open seams closed by folding small sections of the bottom piece of dough onto the top piece. This is strangely therapeutic and fun.
Ta-dah!!!! You are a calzone master! Big time high-fives to you, my friend. Now, we bake. Poke a few holes into the top of each calzone with a fork to let steam escape, and then bake those suckers up for 15-18 minutes at 425F, until they are golden brown and have that “come hither” look about them.
Now, dish up some of the sauce, plate these babies up and nosh your little heart out. And when you do, take a picture and share it on Instagram with the tag #eatwithinyourmeans. I can’t wait to see your calzone skills!
- 1 lb. pizza dough of your choice (I like the wheat dough from Trader Joe's)
- 1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 6 oz. extra-firm tofu (half a package), drained
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach (or 1 cup frozen spinach)
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves*
- 2 cloves of garlic**
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. light miso (white, yellow, or chickpea)
- 2 T. nutritional yeast
- 4 cups veggies of choice for filling (ideas: mushrooms, olives, broccoli, red bell pepper, sundried tomatoes, artichokes)
- Preheat oven to 425 F.
- In a small/medium saucepan, warm the tomato sauce over low heat.
- Place pizza dough on the counter to come to room temperature while you are preparing the filling.
- Pulse the cashews, salt, miso, garlic, and nutritional yeast in a food processor until finely ground, but not turning into cashew butter.
- Add the spinach, tofu, and basil, and pulse until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed.
- In a medium/large skillet, sauté your veggies of choice over medium/high heat until just cooked, 3-5 minutes. Stir in a few tablespoons of the sauce to coat the veggies.
- Section the dough into 4 or 8 equal pieces, depending on how big you want each calzone to be.
- Roll a piece of dough into circle as thin as possible without breaking the dough.
- Place ¼ cup of the spinach ricotta in the center of the dough, and top with ¼ cup of filling.
- Fold the dough over the filling, and seal by folding small pieces of the bottom dough over the top piece, pinching the dough together as you go.
- Continue rolling, filling, and sealing until all the calzones are assembled.
- Place the calzones on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat, and poke a few holes in each one with the tines of a fork.
- Bake at 425 F for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.
** Or two cubes of Dorot frozen garlic
Tip: The spinach ricotta freezes well, so you might wish to double the recipe and stash the second half in the freezer for future calzones. If you do this, make the ricotta in two batches, otherwise it will be too much for the food processor to handle all at once.