Cheesy Garlic & Mushroom Calzone

I’m trying to catch up on some of the recipes from 2011 that I left in the dust on my hard drive. This was a really fun recipe and a delicious dinner. It’s economical and easy to make, and you can make it into a healthier calzone by simply substituting lighter cheeses, whole wheat flour and putting more vegetables in it.

The first step is making the dough. This, for me personally, is a lot of fun, and easy to do. I think dough is always better when made a couple hours ahead of time. You definitely need at least one hour for it to rise, so this isn’t a fast dinner.

*Note: this recipe yields two large calzones!*

Ingredients for 

the dough:

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2- 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp olive oil
I always combine the yeast, water, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, sugar and salt for about ten minutes before adding in the flour. Then I mix it together, using a fork at first and once it clumps together, I knead it on a lightly floured chopping board. I knead the dough for about 10 minutes, turning it over, pressing in, and so on until it feels soft ( some people say it should feel like skin). I always do the poke test. Once the dough pops back after being poked, it’s ready. Then, set it in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Coat it in the oil, cover with plastic wrap, and then let it rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size. 

Preheat the oven to 375 when you are ready to roll out the dough. Separate the dough into two portions. Roll both of them into circles.

To make the filling for one calzone, simply combine 1/2 to 1 cup ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese,  1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms and 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves. Now, you can fill it with anything you like. I personally love a four-cheese calzone, but you can fill it with more vegetables to make it healthier. I also used light ricotta in this one. Arrange the filling on half of the calzone.

Fold the calzones in half and secure with a fork. Using a baster brush, cover the whole thing with an egg wash (beat one egg in a bowl). This will give it that gorgeous color and crisp!

Bake for about 30-40 minutes. Enjoy with your favorite sauce!

You say Chickpea, I say Garbanzo

I’ve always wanted to make falafel, but assumed it was a complicated dish and avoided it. Well, it isn’t complicated and it’s a great quick, “kinda healthy” meal. You toss a bunch of ingredients in a blender or food processor, mash it into a little ball and fry it. Pretty painless, although it took me a while to assemble the ingredients since I didn’t have most of the spices and tahini. Here’s the recipe for a Mediterranean feast. You’ll need:

Falafel

  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tbs. tahini
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 1½ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped onion
  • 2 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Olive oil, for frying

Yogurt Sauce

  • 2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 3 Tbs. chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. ground cumin

1. Pulse the first ten ingredients (through salt) in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth, but still chunky. Dump it into a large bowl and stir in the flour, onion, parsley, and baking powder.
2. Pour enough olive oil into large skillet to have 1/4 inch in bottom and heat. I always test the readiness with a couple breadcrumbs or a few drops of water. If the oil crackles and scalds you, it’s ready.
3. Shape 1/4 cup chickpea mixture into a patty like the one in the photo, and then lightly pat breadcrumbs on it and drop it carefully into the pan and cook 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Transfer to paper-towel-lined platter to drain. Don’t let the falafel stick together!
4. To make Yogurt Sauce: Combine all ingredients in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

These turned out delicious and moist– one of my biggest complaints about falafel is that it tends to be super dry at some restaurants. I also put together a couscous salad. To make the couscous you prepare as directed on the box with slightly less water and no butter, then add around 6 Tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 chopped onion, a tomato, parsley and seasoning. I pretty much stuck to the recipe on the back of the TJ’s couscous box. Not very creative, but yummy. The boyfriend made a gyro out of his and wedged the falafel in a warm pita with hummus. I’m getting kind of hungry thinking about it.

WARNING: for those of you who don’t like chickpeas or have never used them, please note that chickpeas are the same thing as garbanzo beans. I traveled to three separate grocery stores like a moron searching for chickpeas with no luck. I like the name garbanzo better, and think it would also be a good name for a cat.