Giant Escarole Calzones

giant escarole calzones

While we’re on the topic of greens overload, I thought I’d share with you another great recipe for that big, leafy vegetable that seems to be a CSA staple here in the northeast: escarole.

At our CSA pickup every week I see people eyeing suspiciously the bin right next to the romaine. In it, a giant, lettuce-like vegetable flashes its frilly, pale green leaves. Good old escarole. In the weekly email newsletter, our farmers suggested braising the escarole. It’s a fairly bitter and hearty vegetable, and can stand up to a braise. But even I sometimes balk at a soupy pile of greens on my plate, which is why I’d like to propose something else entirely. Calzones.

These calzones, adapted from a recipe in the inimitable Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, are like enormous, portable pizza pockets. Really, they are huge. They’re an entire meal — a meal you can eat with your hands. Who doesn’t like eating with their hands?

Giant Escarole Calzones

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Yes, the recipe is a little time-consuming — after all, you’re making the dough from scratch — but a lot of it is downtime, and it’s easy. This is a great rainy weekend project, and would probably be fun for kids to help out with. Be sure to liberally flour the baking sheet that the prepared calzones will rest on or you’ll have trouble sliding them into the oven.

For the Dough

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. whole wheat flour
3 to 3 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Pur 1/2 c. of the water into a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast, and let stand 10 minutes or until foamy. Add the rest of the water, the oil, and salt. Mix in the whole wheat flour and the white flour, a bit at a time, until a moist and shaggy dough begins to form. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. (Better yet, mix everything in a stand mixer, first with the paddle, then switch to the dough hook once the dough comes together. With the dough hook, mix for another 10 minutes on medium speed, or until the dough is smooth and a little tacky.)

Let the dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, make the calzone filling.

For the Calzone

2 tbs. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
2 bunches escarole, washed and roughly chopped
1/2 c. pitted Kalamata olives
2 tbs. capers, rinsed
3/4 c. grated mozzarella
3/4 c. grated Fontina
2 tbs. grated Parmesan
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, heat that up in there, too.

Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. When the garlic is fragrant, add the chopped escarole and sauté, turning it with tongs, until it is tender, about 5 minutes. (If you have a large wok, you may be able to get away with one batch, otherwise divide the escarole and repeat.) Remove the escarole to a colander and press out as much liquid as you can. (In the oven, liquid will burst out of the calzones, making the dough gooey and your oven messy. No good.) Combine with the remaining ingredients and season well with salt and pepper.

Divide the dough into six pieces, setting aside two to use for another purpose. Roll the four into thin 6 1/2-inch circles and set them on a floured pizza peel or the back of a sheet pan. Let them rest for 15 minutes. Place the filling over half of each circle, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Brush the edge with water, then fold the top of the dough over the filling, pinching the edges closed. Slide the calzones onto the pizza stone and bake until browned on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 giant calzones.

One Response to Giant Escarole Calzones

  1. These sound wonderful! I’m always on the lookout for interesting ways to use the escarole that grows so well in my kitchen garden – and I LOVE homemade pizza. Perfect! :)

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