This is the epitome of a tried, tested and true recipe that is a perfect blend of comfort, deliciousness and healthy. Maybe it’s the never ending winter (which has turned into Sprinter, a term I’ve coined since Spring doesn’t seem to be coming EVER) or maybe it’s because I got a fancy new food processor, but these whole-wheat calzones have become a go-to for me. I’ve only tried a few recipes from my Weight Watchers cookbook and these Mushroom Spinach Whole-Wheat calzones are so wonderful that I’m now inspired to dive in and explore the rest of its pages. I know you’ll find it hard to believe, but these calzones are pretty easy to make and since the recipe yields four at a time, they are great dinner for company (make them ahead of time!) or to make a pile to store away in the freezer for a busy day.
For those of you who haven’t worked with yeast before, don’t be afraid! My fear kept me away from making any bread-based recipes until these past holidays, which now seems pretty silly. A tip about yeast: You can get quick rising active yeast or traditional. They are interchangeable in recipes, the difference being that quick-rising yeast goes right into your flour and dry ingredients, whereas the traditional yeast has to settle in lukewarm water for a few minutes until it foams before being added to the other dry ingredients. I made my dough in my fancy new food processor (!!!!), pulsing together all of the dry ingredients for a few minutes before adding the yeast and water, but I’ve made it just as easily by kneading it by hand on a flat surface using a little elbow grease.
Once you’ve got your dough ball, put it in a bowl that’s lightly oiled (I use non-stick spray), cover it and put it somewhere semi-warm for about an hour to rise. My oven, turned off, seems to be a great temperature for this. The dough will rise to about double its size, at which point you can cathartically punch it back down.
While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filler. At first I was surprised that this recipe didn’t call for tomato sauce inside the calzone, but I’ve come to love preparing a spicy sauce on the side to dip it in. This recipe uses mushrooms, spinach and onions, but get creative with your fillers. I’ve added turkey sausage, substituted kale for the spinach, grilled pineapple, bell peppers.. you get the idea!
Next step is dividing up the dough into quarters and rolling each piece out on a lightly floured surface. Top them with a quarter of your mixture and a bit of cheese before you fold them in half and press the dough together to make a pocket.
Lightly brush them with your oil of choice and stick them in the oven for 20 minutes, pair with some greens, plate with some sauce and voilà: dinner! At only about 300 calories each, you can afford to pair it with a beer :)
Mushroom Spinach Whole-Wheat Calzones (taken from “Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook”)
makes 4 servings
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup of bread flour (or take white flour and replace one Tbsp with cornstarch!)
1/2 whole wheat floor
1 tsp salt
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cups coarsely chopped mushrooms
1/2 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed to take out water
3/4 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1 cup tomato sauce, heated
1. In a small bowl, combine the lukewarm water and the sugar; sprinkle on the yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Combine the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and salt (in a food processor, if you have one). Once you’ve mixed the dry ingredients together well, add the yeast mixture and knead until a dough ball forms. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
3. Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray; place the dough in the bowl. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in volume, 30-45 minutes.
4. In the skillet, cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until most of their liquid evaporates, about 25 minutes. Stir in the onion and the spinach, set aside.
5. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Punch down the dough; lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour. Turn out the dough, divide into 4 pieces. Roll out each piece into a 7-inch circle. Mound the vegetables and the cheese in the centre of each piece of dough, then fold the dough over the filling, pressing the edges to seal tightly. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet. Cover loosely with a plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm, draft free place about 30 minutes.
7. While the calzones rise, adjust the racks to divide the oven into thirds. Fill a shallow roasting pan with 2 inches hot water; place on the bottom oven rack (this will make the calzones perfectly crispy!). Preheat the over to 400 F. Bake the calzones on the top rack until they just begin to brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately, with the tomato sauce on the side.