Whenever I visited my mother, I would take her out to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants. Mom was never one about ambiance; it was all about the food. So it was not surprising that she often liked to go to a nondescript, hole-in-the-wall diner where they made delicious ricotta cheese-filled calzones. They were as big as a platter and she often brought half of one home for lunch the next day. Mom could re-create anything, so instead of asking the diner folks how they made them, she created her own recipe with many filling variations, such as spinach and cheese or broccoli and cheese or sausage and cheese. Still, I loved the ricotta-filled ones the best because she did, too. The success of this recipe depends on the quality of the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.
1 pound good-quality ricotta cheese, well drained
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella or provolone cheese, cut into bits
1 1/2 tspn fine sea salt
coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup warm water (110 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 tspn sugar
3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tspn salt
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork
coarse sea salt for sprinkling on top of calzones
- In a bowl, combine the cheeses and salt and season generously with pepper and mix well. Cover and keep refrigerated while making the dough.
- In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
- Add the olive oil and 2 1/2 cups of the flour and mix by hand or on medium speed with the dough blade until blended. Add additional flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to wind around the blade or is not sticking to your hands. Strive for a soft but not sticky dough.
- Lightly flour a work surface and turn out the dough. With wet hands knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Divide the dough into four equal-size balls and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. With a rolling pin, flatten each ball and roll into an 8-inch-diameter round. Spread 1/2 cup of the ricotta filling on one half of each round. Fold the other half of the round over the filling to create the calzone, or turnover, shape. Seal the edges with a fork that has been dipped in flour.
- As you form the calzones, place them, 2 inches apart, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Brush the tops of each calzone with the beaten egg; sprinkle with the coarse salt and make an X with a scissors in the top of each one.
- Bake the calzones for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.
Recipe courtesy of Ciao Italia Family Classics, by Mary Ann Esposito
Italy [ print this recipe for Calzone di Ricotta alla mamma ]