All images © Valery Rizzo
Last summer on our last night in Italy my family took us to a restaurant for pizza. Instead of ordering individual pies a few of my cousins ordered calzones. I remember thinking how odd, a calzone for dinner? But I quickly had feelings of regret when their calzones arrived and I instead had ordered a boring pizza. We won’t even get into the pie that one of my nieces ordered which was served covered in French fries. The calzones were not anything like the greasy, goopy, doughy things you get here. Instead they were these very long beautiful bread filled creations loaded with steaming fresh vegetables and cheese.
When I returned I decided to make my own even healthier version using whole wheat and unbleached flour. The peppers I roasted myself the way my uncle Amerigo taught me but you can also buy peppers already prepared and the same goes for the pizza dough that is if you can find whole wheat dough. I enjoyed the baked calzone with a beautiful bottle of Tanzen Dame a natural dry white table wine from Bloomer Creek in the Finger Lakes, which I found at The Natural Wine Company in Williamsburg Brooklyn where they feature organic and biodynamic natural wines.
4 organic orange and red peppers
4 brown lunch paper bags
extra-virgin olive oil
cracked black pepper
You can roast your peppers directly on your stovetop. Place each pepper separately on it’s own burner with the fire on high. The idea is to burn the skin of each pepper until it is black. With a pair of tongs or a large kitchen fork continually rotate each pepper until all sides are burnt and black.
Then take each pepper and place in its own separate brown paper bag and let cool for about 10 to 15 min. Preparing one at a time shake the pepper while inside the bag, allowing for the skin to loosen from the flesh. Tear each bag and use as a base to peel the black skin off the pepper. First remove the top stem area including all of the seeds and in sink under cold running water rinse the remaining black areas of the pepper until clean. Tear lengthwise into 2 to 3 inch strips and place on a plate. Do the same for other three peppers. Dressed with a bit of olive oil, cracked pepper and salt. Set aside. You can also prepare this the night before.
1 package dry active yeast
1 ¼ cup lukewarm water
1 ½ cups organic whole wheat bread flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup semolina flour for dusting (you can use all-purpose flour as well)
Proof the yeast. You do this to make sure the yeast is still alive and active. Dissolve or mix sugar in water then add yeast, allow to sit in until yeast foams slightly, about 5 min.
In a separate bowl combine Whole-wheat bread flour and unbleached all-purpose flour. Mix together.
Using an electric mixer take 3 cups of the flour mixture and add the salt. Adding the olive oil and proofed yeast pulse together. Start adding remaining ½ flour mixture until the dough is not sticky anymore and forms a ball on the hook attachment of the mixer. Removed, form into a ball and put into a bowl that has been coated with olive oil. Cover with a kitchen cloth and let rise in a warm place for 45 min. to 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Transfer to a board you have dusted with semolina flour and start to knead a bit. Roll into a ball then wrap the dough with Saran wrap and place in refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight if you wish to prepared dough the night before. Bring dough to room temperature before using.