Saturday, May 22, 2010

Escarole Calzone

Deborah Madison has done it again. I was first introduced to Deborah Madison when I purchased her cook book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. You don't have to be a vegetarian to by her book, it's just a great way to incorporate vegetables and whole-foods-cooking into your normal meal rotation.
I quickly fell in love with her recipes that showcase a large assortment of foods and flavors. Her recipes are well-thought out; as you bite into each dish each flavor compliments another. Her recipes are intelligent recipes, if you know what I mean. The kind where you think 'Hmmmm, I never would have thought to put this-or-that in here, but it makes all the difference...brilliant!" the whole time you're eating it. Eating her food is truly an experience and I keep going back for more.
With that preface, I introduce to you her Escarole Calzone which, quite literally, blew me out of the water. It was unbelievable! Walnuts! Escaraole! Olives! Capers! Fontina cheese! Balsamic Vinegar! What an amazing assortment of flavors.
Now, it was a bit of work to make your own dough and do all the chopping, so you could potentially take shortcuts like buying pre-made dough, OR you can plan ahead and make the dough a few days in advance and then freeze it after it proofs the first time and it works just fine (which is what I did). I really liked her dough recipe. I even brought some over to friends already cooked and they froze them and then ate them a month later and said they were delicious! So many options...
As far as actually eating it, the blending of flavors was amazing, so much to munch on, so to speak. I thought the olives made the dish (I used Kalamata), and I also loved the kick of the red pepper. I loved feeling like my pizza wasn't just about sauce and cheese, it was about flavors blended together and spices sizzling on my tongue. The recipe was so well thought-out and just so yummy. Mmmm. I savored every bite of this deliciousness!
Not all of mine turned out beautifully, some of them were just so-so looking, but once I got the technique of putting my thumb down and then pulling over the dough right next to it and pinching it, they all turned out nice and pretty!Oh yeah, my grocery store was out of escarole, so I used kale, but you could also use endives or other types of leafy greens.
5 stars.

Deborah Madison's Escarole Calzone

For the pizza dough:
1 1/2 C warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 to 1 cup whole-wheat flour, to taste
3 to 3 1/2 cups flour

For the filling:
1/2 cup walnuts
salt and freshly milled pepper
2 bunches escarole, separated at the base
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to finish
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata or Nicoise olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
3/4 cup grated mozzarella
3/4 cup grated fontina
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Pour 1/2 cup of the water into a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast, and set aside until the foamy, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining water, olive oil, and salt, then beat in the whole wheat flour followed by enough white flour to form a shaggy dough. Turn it out onto the counter and knead until smooth, adding more flour as needed to keep it from sticking. For a crisp, light crust, pizza dough should be on the moist side, which means it will be slightly tacky.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, turn it once to coat, then cover with a towel and set aside to rise until doubled in size, 40-60 minutes. Turn the dough onto the counter and divide into 6 equal parts. Shape each piece into a ball, set on a lightly floured counter, cover with a towel, and let rise for another 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a baking stone, heat it at the same time.
Discard any escarole leaves that are yellowed. Wash, then coarsely chop them. Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat with the garlic and pepper flakes. When the garlic is fragrant, add the escarole and saute, turning it frequently with tongs until tender, about 7 minutes. (You may need to do this in two batches.) Remove to a colander and press out as much liquid as possible. Combine with the remaining ingredients except the oil, seasoning to taste with vinegar and plenty of pepper.
Divide the dough into 6 pieces. Use two to make into rolls or breadsticks. Roll the rest into four 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. Brush the edge with water, fold the top down, then crimp the edges. Slide the calzone onto the baking stone and bake until browned on top, 15 to 2o minutes. Brush with olive oil to make them shine.

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