Serves a Crowd

Spinach and Sausage Calzone

by:
November 15, 2021
0 Stars
Author Notes

As a kid, growing up outside of Boston in a household of Sicilians, seemed, at the time, normal. Especially as the first born son, normal was being doted on by my mother and grandmother (no doting from my dad, I knew who not to cross!). Meals at the table were the rule, seven days a week. 5pm sharp on a weeknight, high noon on Sunday. Saturday rules were loose. Family was preached and food was the binder. Slow cooked Sunday "gravy", the ubiquitous tomato sauce loaded with beef and pork and sausage and anything else my grandmother could squeeze into her giant pot, was Sunday standard. What would a Friday night be without fish (Catholic in the 60's and 70's). Christmas Eve seafood feasts, Christmas day ravioli AND manicotti followed by a roast beast. But the lesser made meals that I keep going to are the one's that make me truly feel blessed to have grown up in a family that was loving (in a loud and tempestuous Sicilian way) all tied together by some of the best food ever. This calzone recipe is one of those meals. It's not a calzone in the traditional sense. It's just what my grandmother called it. It probably should be called something else, but the name has stuck through the years. It was typically served during a party or holiday. I would grab 2 or 3 slices and hide it, letting it get to room temperature. It just seemed extra good having sat a bit. Some warm marinara sauce was the perfect accompaniment. It's the recipes such as this one that I make for my grandkids now, using food to teach them the meaning of "La Famiglia". It's also the one that neighbors fawn over at a party, loving that "Eye"-talian food. I've tweaked this recipe from my grandmother's over the years. She always used frozen spinach. Nah, it's just not right (and I bet she didn't have those blocks of frozen spinach when she grew up in Sicily). The amount and type of cheese changes almost every time. But these are my favorites (and not necessarily Italian). I've found adding the Boursin (some mascarpone would work great too) into the spinach helps to bind everything better while also adding a background flavor you'd only know it's there when it's not. You can use sweet or hot Italian sausage. You can use some other sausage. Nothing sacred here. Toss in some artichoke hearts. Make it your own and pass it down. —Pete

  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 45 minutes
  • serves 6 - 8
Ingredients
  • 1 pound Pizza dough (store bought)
  • semolina flour or corn meal, for dusting
  • 1 pound Fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 ounces garlic and herb soft cheese (Boursin or similar)
  • 1 pound Italian sausage (loose or removed from casings)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
  • 8 ounces mozzarella, shredded
  • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg
  • Marinara sauce (homemade or store bought)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Bring pizza dough to room temperature. Line a rimmed baking sheet (half sheet) with parchment paper (not totally necessary, but it does help with the rolling). Lightly sprinkle semolina flour (or corn meal onto the parchment). Place the dough onto the parchment and begin to stretch and form the dough into a rectangle. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Stretch and shape the dough again. Repeat as needed until your dough is rectangular and is close to the size of the pan. If the dough begins to dry out, brush the top with some olive oil.
  2. While waiting for the dough to relax, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet, add the onion and cook about 2 -3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or so. Add half the spinach leaves and stir. Continue cooking and stirring the spinach. It will wilt and shrink significantly. Cook until most water is evaporated. Transfer spinach to large bowl. Cook the remaining spinach with 1 tbsp olive oil. Transfer to the bowl with the first batch and stir to combine. While the spinach is still hot, stir in the Boursin cheese and grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of hot pepper flakes.
  3. In the same skillet, cook the sausage, breaking it up into small pieces, until no longer pink. Drain any water or fat. Optional, but recommended. Place the sausage in a food processor or blender and pulse until small and uniform. Add the sausage to the spinach mixture. Adjust seasonings with salt and black pepper (and red pepper if using).
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Once the dough is stretched and still in the pan, and with one long side of the rectangle facing you, spoon the spinach and sausage mixture on the dough. Spread until uniformly thick and leaving ½ inch border on three edges (side facing you and the two sides). Leave a 1 inch border on the long edge opposite you. Sprinkle the mozzarella and Gruyere evenly over the spinach mix.
  6. Brush a little water on the long edge of the dough opposite you. Starting with the long edge closest to you, loosely roll the dough into a jelly roll-like shape, using the parchment to help support the full length of the dough. Slide the calzone to the center of the pan. Using a sharp, pointy knife, make a number of cuts into the calzone, pushing at least ¾ into the roll. Break the egg yolk into a small bowl and 1 tbsp of water. Whisk with a fork. Brush the yolk onto the dough. Place the pan into the oven and cook about 45 minutes or until the dough is golden brown. It’ll be bubbling in nooks and crannies. About 30 minutes into the cooking, sprinkle additional fontina onto the top of the dough. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 – 30 minutes.
  7. Cut into slices, about 1 inch thick. Serve as is or with a marinara sauce.

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1 Review

AntoniaJames November 15, 2021
This sounds so good! I like that you use Boursin in it - a great shortcut.

I'm going to try this recipe in December when my boys are home. I'm quite certain they'll approve. ;o)