Green Bell Pepper & Caramelized Onion Calzone

There are some foods that haunt your days, nights and everything in between. You know the ones I’m talking about! The ones that you profess mad love to at a restaurant, vowing to replicate them the very second you get home. And you do! Only, instead of something worth professing mad love to, you end up with a pitiful mess and many tears.

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So it is with a heart filled with joy and glee that I cross off ONE thing off my embarrassingly long list! Pizza dough! The last few times I made pizza, it was stretchy and rubbery and not very nice to eat at all. Credit must be given where it’s due, so many thanks to Hubs for stoically eating his way through all my experiments. Aw. I realized I was botching things up on two fronts – not measuring how warm my yeast-proofing liquid was and scooping instead of spooning the flour!

Given my (awful) history with pizza dough, I was very, very excited to try (yet another) new dough recipe. So I proofed my yeast, kneaded my dough and left it to rise. And then I thought I would take a nap. What ended up happening was that I was so excited/ anxious about my dough that I kept waking up every ten minutes to check on it. What do they say again about a watched pot (or dough in my case)? But two hours later, it rose, it rose! It was gloriously soft and squishy and puffed up like a champ in the oven!

I was so, so bored of the same ol’, same ol’ pizza, so I decided to switch it up by making calzones instead! Imagine a thin crust pizza folded in half over itself – that’s a calzone! So it’s all the same bread, but there are fillings here instead of toppings, which is the exact same thing! Oh well. Also, one of my very good friends has been wanting me to make these for a while, so how could I not!

Start by making your dough! Dissolve some honey in warm water, sprinkle the yeast over it and let it sit till it’s nice and frothy. Meanwhile, measure out your flour. Remember, spoon-and-level and don’t scoop! Flour has a tendency to pack and scooping will give you a lot more flour than your recipe requires! Once the yeast is frothy, add it to the flour and mix it all up till it’s just coming together. Turn it out onto a counter and knead briskly! It’s going to be very, very sticky but it’ll get smooth and supple soon! Smarter people than me would’ve used a stand or hand mixer. I, despite owning a hand mixer, decided to go with my hands. I will never learn. Roll the ball of dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm place to rise.

Making the dough (Copy)

While the dough is rising, read a book or take a nap. That done, prep your filling! Slice up some green bell pepper and red onions (white is okay too). Heat some olive oil in a small fry pan, sauté the onions till they’re soft and slightly golden, add the bell pepper, season and sauté till it’s cooked but still slightly crunchy. Leave it to cool. Also, grate up some mozzarella! It’s okay to snack on the filling a little bit. It’ll be our secret!

Making the filling (Copy)

The dough should’ve risen nicely by now. A life-saving tip I found on Smitten Kitchen to see if your dough has risen enough is to dip two fingers in flour and press down on the dough. If the impression remains, it’s good to go, otherwise let it rise till it does! Gently punch down the dough, knead it a bit and divide it into two equal balls.

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Now’s when you switch on your oven and pre-heat it! While it’s getting all warmed up, assemble the calzones. Plop a ball on a floured surface and roll it out into a disc. It may spring back, but keep trying! Smear some pizza sauce on it (I used store-bought sauce, sue me), top it with some filling and then some creamy mozzarella. Yum! Fold the disc over in half and press the edges to seal. For the extra cautious (aka me), tuck the edges inward so you’re absolutely sure nothing will spill out!

Calzone Assembly (Copy)

Pop the calzones onto a baking tray, which I line because I’m fussy like that, but you don’t have to. Now you have to think about if you want air-vents or not. They are those little slits you see on one calzone! A bunch of recipes told me to make air-vents and another bunch didn’t even mention them, so I decided to try one of each. Both had toasty crusts and soft interiors, but the one with the slits had a lot more bubbly cheese and the one without puffed up much more grandly and was a wee bit chewier than the other. Hubs loved the one with the slits and I loved the one without, so really, it’s all up to you!

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After the better part of a half hour in the oven, here they are! See what I mean about the bubbly cheese on the slit calzone? Ohh, deliciousness!

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GREEN PEPPER & CARAMELIZED ONION CALZONE

Prep Time: 2 hours | Cook Time: 20 mins | Serves 2

Dough

1¼ cups all-purpose flour + 2 tbsp to knead
1 tsp active dry yeast
½ cup warm water (115°F – 120°F)
½ tsp honey
½ tbsp olive oil

Filling

1 medium green pepper, julienned
1 large onion, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp oregano
Salt & pepper, to taste
50g mozzarella, grated
2 tbsp pizza sauce

1 small egg

Making the dough

  • Proof the yeast – dissolve ½ tsp honey in ½ cup warm water, sprinkle 1 tsp active dry yeast over it, cover and set aside for 10-15 minutes. The yeast should now be slightly creamy and frothy.
  • Add this to 1¼ cups all-purpose flour and mix with a wooden spoon to form a shaggy dough.
  • Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 3-5 minutes till it’s no longer sticky and form it into a smooth ball.
  • Grease a bowl with olive oil and roll the ball of dough in it to coat it all over. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place to rise. After about 2 hours, the dough should have doubled.

Making the filling

  • While the dough is rising, prep your filling. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a small fry pan.
  • Add 1 large onion (sliced) and sauté till it’s just starting to caramelize. To this, add 1 julienned green pepper, season with salt, pepper & 1 tsp oregano and sauté till the pepper is just cooked but still crunchy (it will soften in the oven)

Assembly & Baking

  • Pre-heat your oven to 190°C / 375°F.
  • Gently deflate the risen dough, turn it out onto a floured counter or board and knead for a minute or two. Divide into 2 equal portions.
  • Roll each portion into discs of approx. 8”. Pick it up and turn it often, so it doesn’t stick to the board or counter. If the dough springs back, wait 5-10 minutes and try rolling again. Dust it with a little flour if it sticks.
  • Spoon 1 tbsp pizza sauce on each disc, leaving some room by the edges. Top with half the filling and half the grated mozzarella.
  • Fold over the disc toward yourself, making a half-circle and seal the edges by pressing down. You could also roll the edges inward so that they are extra-sealed. And it looks pretty!
  • Transfer the folded calzones to a baking sheet. I line mine with foil, but you don’t have to! (Optional: With a sharp knife, make 2-3 small slits on the calzone – these will act as air vents)
  • Crack the egg over a small bowl, add a tsp of water and lightly beat it. Brush the egg mixture over the calzones, including the sides.
  • Pop them into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or till they are puffed and golden on top.
  • Cool for a few minutes and serve with pizza sauce or ketchup for dipping!

ADAPTATIONS & HACKS

  • To check if your pizza dough has risen enough, dip two fingers in flour and press down on the dough. If the impression remains, it’s good to go, otherwise let it rise till it does! (Tip courtesy: Smitten Kitchen)
  • You could flavour the filling with whatever spices & cheeses float your boat – add chilli flakes, parsley, thyme, whatever! Just make sure the cheese is something that’ll melt splendidly!
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