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Spinach Calzones

A half-pound sack of spinach is no joke. I know, because I had one in my refrigerator for the past week thanks to my local CSA.  It seemed like an insurmountable quantity requiring a serious plan of action. Every day, I would open my refrigerator and stare down that mountain of green stuff taking up half of the second shelf. It was intense, and I almost gave up. Finally, I came up with two options: salad for a month or spinach calzones. 

It was not a difficult decision. 

Calzones are like folded and stuffed pizza pockets. You can fill them with tomato sauce and cheese, cooked ground meat, and sausage, but I like them best with spinach. They are meant to be rustic, the type of food you eat with your hands, so don’t worry if yours aren’t perfectly even or if a little cheese oozes out of them while baking in the oven.  They’ll still be really good.

The amazing thing about spinach is that it cooks down to nothing. The four cups I had left in the sack after using some for a weeknight salad or two cooked down to just half a cup in a few minutes.

My family always adds a pinch of nutmeg to greens and cheese. It’s weird, but it makes lasagna, ravioli, and these spinach calzones taste just a little bit better. It’s kind of a secret, so don’t tell anyone I told you. 

Ingredients (makes six small calzones):

  • 1 ball of pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 4 cups of raw spinach ( or 1/2 cup of cooked or frozen and defrosted)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 and 1/2 cups of part-skim ricotta (15 ounce container)
  • 1/4 cup of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Make the dough:

Follow the recipe for pizza dough and let rise in a bowl for at least an hour, until doubled in size. Coat a large wooden surface and a rolling pin with most of the flour.

Place the dough on the board, sprinkle the remaining flour on top, and roll out with the pin until the dough is about a quarter inch thick and measures a 12” by 18” rectangle . To ensure even thickness, rotate the dough on the board and flip over from time to time. 

Cook the spinach:

(Skip this part if you are using frozen or cooked spinach): Heat 1 - 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat along with the red pepper flakes. Add the spinach and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach has wilted completely, about five minutes. Let cool.

Regardless of the type of spinach you are using, make sure to wrap it in a towel or paper towels and squeeze out the excess water. 

Make the calzones:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Finely chop the garlic and add to a bowl along with the spinach, ricotta, grated cheese, and nutmeg. Mix well to combine the ingredients for the filling.

Cut the dough in half length-wise and then cut each half into thirds, so that you have six evenly -sized squares. Measure a heaping quarter of a cup of filling onto each square of dough. 

Fold the dough over the filling and then fold, crimp and braid the edges so that each resembles a half-moon. Repeat for the remaining five.

Put the calzones on a baking sheet and brush with one tablespoon of olive oil. 

Cook in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan in the oven and cook for another 25 minutes, until the calzones are golden brown. Let cool at least ten minutes before eating. Freeze some for later.