If we translate calzone, it literally means trousers or pant leg, but instead of a leg stuffed inside, how about we use escarole, radicchio, pine nuts, black olives, and raisins and then fry it in olive oil. This will produce something way more edible and scrumptious.
This cheeseless and meatless calzone recipe is a favorite dish for celebrating lent in southern Italy. Traditionally they would add anchovies, however in this version, the combination of pine nuts, garlic, and greens provides a rich and complex flavor all on its own.
Meatless Monday: This is a Meatless Monday option!
I learned about this grassroots movement when I attended the Terra Madre Salone del Gusto food conference in Italy in 2018. As a way to bring awareness and perhaps open a conversation about meat consumption around the world, the founder, Sid Lerner, suggested taking one day a week and eating vegetable-based meals. The Meatless Monday idea caught on and now over 40 countries take part.
Perhaps you are more familiar with the folded pizza-type calzone with mozzarella, tomato sauce, and parmigiana cheese? Also from southern Italy, Naples to be exact, and full of meat, this calzone can be eaten anytime meat is allowed.
This post has a sister! Find my vegetarian version here using the same pizza dough recipe.
Using escarole, radicchio, or any of the bitter wild greens in dishes dates back at least to the 1400s in Italy. The health benefits are numerous and during the spring months and weeks of lent, the greens grow in abundance. During the past few weeks here in Northern California, escarole and radicchio have been showing up at the farmers’ markets. What better time to learn to make calzone and calzone dough, which is simply pizza dough, and fill it will local treasures?
Meatless Calzone from Southern Italy
- 1 package active dry yeast (7 grams or 2 rounded teaspoons)
- ¾ cup lukewarm water ~ 80° F
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 3 cups bread flour (or all-purpose)
- 2 cups escarole and radicchio - (1 cup each) can use spinach or any combination
- ½ cup black olives - pitted and sliced Gaeta are best
- 2 cloves garlic - peeled and smashed
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ½ cups raisins
- ⅓ cup olive oil for frying, + 1 Tbsp. for sauteing
Making the dough
- In a medium bowl, add yeast and pour in 3/4 cup lukewarm water. Add the olive oil and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 minutes until slightly foamy.
- Add the flour and salt and mix well (by hand or with a dough hook). Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes until you have a soft and smooth dough. If the dough gets sticky while kneading, add just a bit of flour at a time.
- Place in a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for about 2 hours, until doubled in size.
- Escarole and radicchio are bitter greens, which is a huge health benefit, but we want to tone down the bitter flavor for this calzone. First, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, add 2 tsp. salt and add the whole escarole and radicchio leaves. Blanch for 1 minute and remove. Cool and finely chop.
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and add the garlic cloves. Heat slowly for 2 minutes to infuse the flavor into the oil. Next, add the pine nuts and, again, slowly heat to toast for a minute or two (careful not to burn the nuts). Lastly, add chopped escarole/radicchio blend, raisins, olives, and a pinch of salt. Continue heating and stirring for 3 minutes to heat through and marry all the flavors. Take out the whole garlic cloves and either discard or use in a salad or soup. Remove filling from heat and let cool while rolling out the dough.
Assembling the Calzone
- When the dough has risen, turn out onto a floured board. To make 8 individual calzones, divide the dough into eight equal balls. With a rolling pin, roll into 4-inch circles. Add a spoonful of filling into the center of each calzone.
- Fold over to form a half-moon and pinch the edges to seal. Using the end of a fork, press around the edge to make sure the seal is tight.
- In a large skillet, heat ⅓ cup olive oil. Frying four at a time, fry each calzone for 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Stack a few paper towels on a plate and place the cooked calzone on top to absorb some of the olive oil.
- Serve hot with a sprig of fresh parsley. These calzones may be served for supper or as an appetizer. Buon appetito!
Want more greens? Try:
Stuffed Radicchio antipasto
Want more Italian cooking? How about taking one of my virtual cooking classes? I focus on naturally vegetarian Italian dishes – either small group or private. For more detailed info on upcoming classes, click here!