Calzones are fun. They’re sort of a cross between a pizza, which is automatically awesome, and a turnover, which I don’t actually eat but like the concept of. The combination of a crispy-yet-puffy crust and any kinds of fillings your taste buds desire makes them a perfect blank canvas for experimentation.
These calzones, stuffed with a mix of kale, mushrooms and tofu with Italian seasonings, are somewhat of a take on the Spinach and Tofu Calzones from Robin Robertson’s Vegan Planet. The original features spinach, obviously, pureed with silken tofu. Though I was looking for a pizza-type dinner with some greens in it, I wanted them to stay intact, and I wanted a bit more than just green filling.
That’s where the experimentation came in. I started with a few staples that are present on just about every pizza I make: garlic, onions and mushrooms. Kale replaced the spinach from the original recipe, because who doesn’t like kale? It’s krazy and kurly and has a lot of vitamin K. And fiber. And antioxidants. And it gives you and excuse to spell words with a k when they really shouldn’t be.
Tofu remains an obvious choice when looking to replace the texture of ricotta in Italian dishes. It never ceases to amaze me how a plain block of soy food can turn into cheese substitute with a bit of mashing and a pinch of oregano and basil. Put it all together with a little tomato sauce smeared on the dough (or a lot, whatever you prefer), and you have a portable pizza packet that you can happily munch away on.
Oh, and there’s vegan cheese sauce involved. I haven’t bothered to try and make up my own recipe for that because there are so many amazing ones out there already. If you’re looking for a good one, I suggest the original Happy Herbivore cookbook, the Forks Over Knives cookbook or Appetite For Reduction. They all have delicious faux cheeses that work great for drizzling/dipping/smothering/etc.
This recipe makes four servings in the form of two large calzones. I use a dough similar to the whole wheat dough in Mark Sutton’s Heart Healthy Pizza, but feel free to use whatever type strikes your fancy. Stirring a little garlic powder and Italian seasoning into the dry ingredients is a nice addition. As for the “cheese” sauce, go nuts. Put it in ramekins, make a communal dipping bowl or just pour it over the top of the calzones when they come out of the oven. It’s like a big chunk of pizza turnover heaven.
- 1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough
- ¼-1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cups mushrooms, sliced thickly
- 1 meduim bunch kale (about ½lb), stemmed & chopped
- 1 block firm or extra-firm tofu, lightly drained & crumbled
- oregano, basil & black pepper to taste
- vegan “cheese” sauce, optional, for dipping/smothering
- Prep your pizza dough and set it aside to rise. Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the garlic and onions until fragrant and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add splashes of water to the pan to keep things from sticking, if necessary.
- Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften.
- Toss in the kale and a couple tablespoons of water and cook until the kale is wilted, 5-7 minutes, stirring often and adding more water if needed.
- Add the tofu, oregano, basil and black pepper to taste. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until any liquid has evaporated and the tofu is starting to smell “beany.” Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each of them out to roughly ¼” thickness. Spread one side with the tomato sauce and toss on some additional herbs if desired. Spread the filling to within ½” of the edge and carefully fold the empty half of the dough over. Pinch the edges shut firmly and place on a lightly oiled pizza pan.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until hot and browned. While it’s cooking, prepare your cheese sauce if you’re using it.
- Remove the calzones from the oven and let sit for a few minutes before cutting. Serve with “cheese” sauce.