Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eggplant and Three Cheese Calzone

One thing I suddenly realized I love this year is eggplant.  I've never really had much of it, and as for cooking with it, I made baba ganoush and that was about it.  And then we went over to Anne's for dinner a couple months ago, and she made us eggplant parmesan.  It was exquisite.  I have since ordered it at 2 different restaurants and apparently I am obsessed with it (I definitely need that recipe, Anne).  When I noticed that my beloved new Smitten Kitchen Cookbook had a recipe for eggplant and three cheese calzone, I knew I simply had to try it.  I love calzones, and eggplant, and cheese.  So... thus it began.

Deb (yeah we're on a first-name basis) has 2 different pizza dough recipes, called rushed and leisurely.  She says that leisurely has a more developed flavor, but it requires 8 hours to overnight in the fridge.  However she says that the rushed pizza dough is also "perfect."  Obviously I went with rushed, where it rises in a warm but off oven for about a half hour.  One more note about the dough: her book has directions to make the doughs by hand or by mixer.  I will be sharing the mixer version only.  While the dough rose, I roasted the slices of eggplant. and made the cheese mix.

When the dough was ready, I rolled it out and topped it with the sliced roasted eggplant, a mixture of ricotta, parmesan and mozzarella, and oregano.  Other than salt and pepper, that's all you need!  I am not really sure why my calzone ended up being really ugly and more trapezoid-shaped than your usual calzone, but I think it was because the recipe says to roll it out into a circle, and next time I think I will do a rectangle!  Oh well - I am used to my food tasting great and looking a little funky.  After an egg wash, I baked it and could hardly wait the 20 minutes it took!

I ended up serving this with the same sauce I made for the potato gnocchi because it was so damn good, and the gnocchi were long gone but I still had some sauce left.  The recipe did come with its own sauce recipe, so I will include that just in case you don't happen to have leftover potato gnocchi sauce!  It was a pretty good idea to use it, because the sauce is amazing, and now I could enjoy it with an amazing calzone.  The calzone really was great, but unfortunately I made it on an awkward night where Kenzie, an eggplant lover, wasn't home, and Mom and Rachael had already eaten, so I was the only one who got to enjoy it.  You will just have to take my word for it.  The dough was great: soft, crunchy on the outside, and chewy.  Inside, the cheeses were melty and the eggplant was earthy, and dunked in the tomato sauce, they made a hearty, warming, delicious calzone that will have to be made again to introduce it to my family!

Recipe:

eggplant and three cheese calzone
from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
serves 4

Ingredients:
for calzone:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium (3/4-pound) eggplant, sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
salt
freshly ground pepper
1 3/4-pound pizza dough, ready to go (see below for rushed pizza dough recipe)
1 cup ricotta
1 cup coarsely grated mozzarella
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
dried oregano
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
a handful of snipped fresh basil leaves

for quick sauce:
1 cup strained tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 garlic clove, minced
red pepper flakes
pinch of sugar (optional)
few drops of red wine vinegar (optional)

Instructions:

1) Prepare eggplant: preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a baking sheet with olive oil.  Arrange the eggplant slices in one layer.  Season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Roast for 20 minutes, flip, then roast for another 10 minutes.  Let the eggplant cool slightly.  Leave oven on.

2) Assemble calzone: Roll the dough into a 12-inch round.  Mix together ricotta, mozzarella, and parmesan, then season the cheese with 1/2 teaspoon table salt, a pinch of dried oregano (or more to taste) and freshly ground pepper.  Stir the eggplant into the cheese mixture, and then heap it down the center of the dough.  Pull the sides of the dough over the center, pressing and crimping a seam down the middle.  Brush the outside of the calzone with egg wash.

3) Bake the calzone for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden all over.

4) Make the sauce: while the calzone bakes, heat the tomatoes, salt, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes in a small saucepan until simmering.  Gently simmer for 5 minutes, then taste for seasoning.  For extra sweetness or punch, add a pinch of sugar or a few drops of red wine vinegar to taste and simmer for one minutes more.  Pour into a small dish.

5) To serve: when calzone is finished baking, slide it onto a serving dish and slice into larger sections.  Garnish with snipped basil and serve with sauce on the side.


rushed pizza dough
yield 1 12-ounce dough

Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for counter
1 teaspoon table salt
olive oil, for coating bowl

Instructions: 

1) Turn oven on to warm (about 200 to 225 degrees) for 5 minutes, then turn it off.

2) Pour 1/2 cup warm water into the bowl of your electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the water, and let it stand for 5 minutes.  Add the flour, then the salt, and mix with your dough hook at a moderate speed until the mixture starts to form a craggy mass.  Reduce the speed to low and mix for 5 minutes, letting the hook knead the mass into a smooth, elastic dough.  Remove dough and wipe out bowl.

3) Coat inside of mixing bowl with olive oil, place dough back in bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in previously warmed oven, and let it sit for 30 minutes, or until doubled.  Remove the dough from the oven.  Turn the dough onto a floured counter if you want to roll it out, pizza peel, or prepared baking sheet, and let your recipe take it from here.





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