Calzone Alla Parmigiana

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

1 recipe pizza dough (see directions below)

2 eggplants, cubed

12 whole garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to glaze

61/2 ounces buffalo mozzarella or cow's milk mozzarella

5 ripe tomatoes, cubed

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large, heavy baking sheets

2 rimless baking sheets

Put the baking sheets into the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Uncover the dough, punch out the air, and divide into four balls. Dredge with flour and let rise on floured baking parchment for 20 minutes, until soft and puffy.

Meanwhile, toss the eggplant and garlic cloves with the olive oil in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes.

Lightly squeeze any excess moisture out of the mozzarella then cut it into cubes. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before stirring in the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Season to taste.

Roll or pull the risen balls of dough into 8-inch circles directly onto two sheets of baking parchment. Slide these onto two rimless baking sheets. Spread a quarter of the vegetable mixture on one half of each calzone, leaving just over 1/2 inch around the edge for sealing. Season well. Fold the uncovered half of the dough over the filling. Pinch and twist the edges firmly together so that the filling doesn't escape during cooking. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan.

Working quickly, open the oven door and slide paper and calzone onto the hot baking sheets. Bake for 30 minutes, swapping the baking sheets around halfway or until the crust is puffed up and golden. Remove from the oven and let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving (this will allow the filling to cool slightly). Serve hot or warm.

Basic pizza dough

Makes 2 medium-crust pizzas, 10-12 inches

1 cake compressed yeast, 1 packet active dry yeast, or 2 teaspoons quick-rising yeast

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup hand-hot water

4 cups Italian "0" or "00" flour, or unbleached

all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

In a medium bowl, cream the compressed yeast with the sugar and beat in the hand-hot water. Leave for 10 minutes until frothy. For other yeasts, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in the yeast mixture, then the olive oil. Mix together with a round-bladed knife, and then use your hands until the dough comes together. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface, wash and dry your hands, then knead briskly for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth, shiny and elastic. (Five minutes for warm hands, 10 minutes for cold hands.) Don't add extra flour, a wetter dough is better. If you feel the dough is sticky, flour your hands, not the dough. The dough should be quite soft.

To test if the dough is ready, roll it into a fat sausage, take each end in either hand, lift the dough up, and stretch the dough downward, gently wiggling it up and down—it should stretch out quite easily. If it doesn't, it needs more kneading. Shape the dough into a neat ball. Put in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size— about 1 ½ hours.

Uncover the dough, punch out the air, then tip out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into two and shape into smooth balls. Place the balls apart on baking parchment, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Robin Davis