Calzone with Kale, Ramps and Sausage

College girl has spoken. Enough with all this healthy food; it is time for some real grub. College girl being, well, a college student holds firm to the belief that pizza is one of the blocks of the food pyramid. In fact she informed me that the government considers pizza a vegetable. This kind of thinking makes me wonder if all our tuition payments are really money well spent.

Still how can I disappoint our darling? She is home for such a short time and I love to make her happy. Still, I think she can handle a little healthy while satisfying her pizza craving. Looking in the refrigerator I found half a bag of baby kale and a handful of ramps. Add these to some Italian sausage and we can placate her cravings and my consciensce.

My concern with using the kale on pizza is that the kale would dry out too much when baking the pizza. If I enclose it in the dough in the form of a calzone, the moisture from the dough, meat and cheese should almost steam the kale to combine it with the sausage. Now I really am the fun mom. Instead of just pizza that we have made so many times, we did something fun and different. We made a calzone! Now let’s just hope she isn’t reading this to find out she just got conned.IMG_1375

Because we were heading out early the next morning, I mixed up my dough the night before. I love this slow rise crust. It is so simple to make, just mix the ingredients together, then cover and let it rise for 12 to 24 hours. The flavor really develops over time and the crust ends up with a delicate flavor and crunch after baking. This is my go to recipe for pizza crust. I have tried so many techniques, but this beats them all. And did I mention how simple it is?

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The next evening I sautéed the baby kale and ramps. I love this early season baby kale. It is more tender and mild than the mature kale. Also, not having to remove the stems is a nice little time saver. To reduce the fat from the sausage, I precooked it and drained off the fat. Add some part skim ricotta cheese and you have a pretty good compromise for a food not really known for healthy eating. Finish it off by making a tomato sauce for dipping. College girl said it was better than carry-out pizza after a late rehearsal. I can live with that.

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Just a little note on the ricotta cheese. I made my own. It is easy and tastes so much better than the stuff you buy in the store. Mario Batalli has a video showing how to make ricotta at home.

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Calzone with Sausage, Kale and Ramps

Dough

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Filling

  • 1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1/4 pound baby kale
  • 10 ramps
  • 1 cup Ricotta cheese

Sauce

  • 15 oz can no salt crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Start the dough in the morning or evening before you are going to make the calzone to allow for a long slow rise. Mix the flour, yeast and salt together. Add in the water and olive oil. Stir until combined. You may need to adjust your flour or water. If the dough seems too dry with not all the flour combined, add a little more water. If the dough is really sticky and damp, just add in some additional flour. When making adjustments, add ingredients in small quantities, perhaps a tablespoon of whichever ingredient you are adjusting. When finished mixing, shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a large bowl coated with olive oil. Roll the ball around the bowl to lightly coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm spot to rise. The dough will look spongy and soft when  you are ready to use it.

For the filling, brown and crumble the sausage. Remove the sausage from the pan and wipe out any grease. Then sauté the sliced whites of the ramps in olive oil. When the whites are softened, add the greens cut up in 1/2 inch strips and again sauté until softened. Finally add the kale and cook until wilted.

To make the sauce, sauté the chopped garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes then add the fennel cook until the fennel is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Now the fun part-assembling the calzone. Generously spread flour on a work surface and empty the dough onto the floured surface. The dough is going to be sticky so sprinkle some flour on top of the dough as well. This will keep the dough from sticking to your hands. Begin spreading out the dough into a circle. Keep distributing the flour on your work surface and flipping the dough over frequently to prevent the dough from sticking to the surface. When the circle is about 15 inches in diameter, transfer the dough to a bake sheet. You can use a pizza pan or a sheet pan. If you use a sheet pan like I did, some of the dough will be hanging over the edge while you assemble the calzone. It is a little awkward but it works in the end. Now just spread the fillings evenly across half the circle leaving a half inch border to seal the dough. Fold the over the other half of the dough and press the edges together to seal the calzone.

Bake in an oven preheated to 400 for 20 minutes. Allow the calzone to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting it.

This recipe makes one large calzone. Enough to feed two hungry college kids. And good enough to make the darling daughter happy.

 

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