Dinner With My Family #9: Spinach and Artichoke Calzone

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Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.

This week, I’m going to take two previous food articles (chicken, broccoli, and mozzarella calzones and fried rice with artichoke hearts) and smash them together, creating my single favorite meal I’ve found since going vegan. Seriously. I’ve enjoyed these calzones more than anything else I’ve tried.

So, yes, along the way, I’ll be pulling elements from both of the previous posts and combining them into a new one.

Here’s what I’m talking about when I’m talking about a calzone:

Calzone and apples

What You Need
For the calzone crust itself, you’ll need roughly 1 1/2 cups flour, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2/3 teaspoon yeast, 1/3 teaspoon salt, and 2/3 cup water per calzone that you intend to make. These will make very large calzones, so don’t be afraid to divide the recipe in half if you want small ones. Generally, a single calzone will make two meals for me.

You’ll also need the ingredients. In the one I’m preparing, you’ll need some pizza sauce (a 50/50 mix of tomato paste and tomato sauce with some seasonings will also work), sliced black olives, 1/4 onion diced, about a cup of thinly chopped spinach, and 1/2 cup or so of cooked artichoke hearts.

Cooked artichoke hearts? They’re the remnants from the fried rice with artichoke hearts meal prepared last week.

As with last week, the cost of everything save the artichoke hearts is really low. I recommend waiting until artichokes are on sale before making this dish.

The Night Before (or Early That Day)
The first step, of course, is to cook the artichoke hearts. It’s pretty simple to do.

Rather than just repeating the procedure from last week’s post, though, I’ll just point you back to the original article.

Cooking artichoke hearts is quite simple, but you can purchase canned ones if you don’t want to go to that effort.

Preparing the Meal
First, you’ll have to make the dough. The ingredients for this part are listed above.

Take the water and heat it until it’s warm (but not hot) to the touch, then add the yeast and stir. Let the water sit for fifteen minutes. The surface of the water will have a few bubbles on it, which is perfect – the yeast is active and working.

While the water is sitting, mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl (the flour and the salt). When the water is ready, add the liquid ingredients (the yeast water and the olive oil) and mix them thoroughly until you have a dough ball that’s not sticky to the touch, but holds together well and is soft and pliable.

Dough ball

If it’s really sticky, add more flour and mix for a bit longer. If it’s dry, add a bit more water and mix for a bit longer.

Once the dough is finished, let it sit covered in a warm place for two or three hours to rise.

When the dough is rising, get your other ingredients ready: the sauce, the artichoke hearts, the onion, the black olives, and the spinach.

spinach

When cutting up the spinach, what I usually do is take three or four leaves, cut the stems off, and make a stack of them. Then, I roll the stack up until it looks like a tube, then I slice the tube about every quarter inch. This leaves me with a bunch of spinach strips, which are perfect for this.

When the dough is finished, just spread it out into a circle, then add toppings to half of the circle, like so.

calzone contents

Fold the empty half over the topping-covered half, press down the seams, cut a few tiny slices in the top of the calzone for venting, put the calzone on a baking sheet (I usually put some parchment paper underneath it), and bake it in the oven at 400 F for 18 minutes.

You’ll have yourself a wonderful calzone.

Calzone and apples

This is, without much of a doubt, my favorite dish I’ve enjoyed over the last several months. It’s just delicious.

Optional Ingredients
Obviously, when making a calzone, you can use any pizza topping as an ingredient. I’ve had all kinds over the years, from a bratwurst-and-sauerkraut calzone to a ham-and-pineapple calzone. Anything that you would put on a pizza works here!

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31 thoughts on “Dinner With My Family #9: Spinach and Artichoke Calzone

  1. This actually looks good. I’m not surprised this is your favorite thing, everything else looked really boring and monotone. I would highly suggest you review some vegan websites or check out some vegan cookbooks to get a better idea of all the wonderful and tasty options out there.

  2. I have the same plates, and that portion size is huge! I’ve heard it’s not really possible to “over-eat” on a Vegan diet, so maybe it’s not a big deal, but if that were a sausage and cheese calzone, LOOK OUT!

  3. Agreed. No offense, but sometimes the meals you post on here don’t look too great, though I’m sure they taste good. This one both looks, and sounds like it would taste good.
    Pat S.

  4. I’m amazed that the finished calzone looks exactly the same as the chicken one you made last summer. :)

    I agree that this sounds really good. The key to making good cheeseless pizza (or calzone) is to use lots of rich, flavorful vegetables, as opposed to mild, watery ones. Sundried tomatoes, for example, would also be a good addition.

  5. I have to say that I enjoy this blog a lot, but I find the comments increasingly depressing. I can understand corrections, but to nitpick every single post is just bewildering to me. That’s just more negative karma than I’d want to create in my life.

    The calzone sounds like it’d be very tasty. Trent, thanks for the recipe. I’m enjoying this series.

  6. @ #2 Steven: Trent said one calzone was two servings for him.

    (I’d actually eat the whole thing, and I’m 5’9″ and a size 6 — I’d think a big guy would definitely want the whole thing!)

  7. And I know what I’m making for dinner tonight! The only change I’m making is to make whole wheat dough instead of white dough! (And it looks like Trent may have made the same decision!)

  8. I’m with you about the insanely negative comments, Mari.

    Trent, you hit the nail on the head about making your own pizza dough! It’s hardly any trouble and it’s so much better than store-bought.

  9. Does anyone know of a healthier version of the dough?

    Rough estimation is 600 calories for 1 1/2 cups of flour, and 360 calories for 3 tbsp of olive oil.

    I know this is intended to be two servings, but still, that’s a lot of calories before you even get to the toppings…

  10. J – You’re pretty much stuck with high calorie dough if a pizza style crust is what you’re looking for. Otherwise, there are lower calorie choices if you substitute flat breads and wraps. Read and compare the labels carefully to make the best decision for your situation.

  11. Can’t post links here, but google search WW pizza dough, for the weight watcher’s pizza dough instructions. Here’s that recipe. I am going to substitute with whole wheat flour and splenda.
    2 pkgs. yeast
    2 teaspoons sugar
    4 cups flour – or more if needed
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup olive oil – extra virgin, if available
    1 1/2 cups warm water

  12. It would be completely worthless to put splenda in your pizza dough. The yeast can’t metabolize it, and as the purpose of putting sugar in yeasted dough it to feed the yeast, it will do nothing but create a flat, hard cracker that is slightly sweet. Reduce the sugar a bit (a little less rising) if you’re overly worried.

  13. 2 tsp of sugar = 30 calories in a recipe that should make at least 3 good sized pizzas. Really, really negligible.

    Also, the WW recipe has WAY more oil than my normal pizza dough recipe – 2x as much oil! The o to flour ratio for the WW crust is about the same as Trent’s crust. Not really a step on the health direction!

  14. I have used & liked a couple of your recipes. Looks good BUT, this one is WAAAY beyond my allowed cost factor.

    Spinach is $3/lb and artichokes are $1/more EACH here in metro Chicago.

  15. Trent, I agree with others, you need to branch out a try some new things as a vegan. There are some wonderful grains out there, like quinoa, that are high in iron, protein, and fiber. Cook up some quinoa according to directions, add some edamame, garlic, walnuts, dried cranberries, and oil and vinegar and you have a great salad that will keep for days in the fridg.

  16. Quinoa knocked my socks off the first time I tried it. We have it for supper 2 or three times a week around here . . . sometimes mixed with brown rice, sometimes on its own. YUMMY.

  17. If you’re worried about calories in pizza crust I make it all the time without sugar or oil. I do rub the dough with a very small amount of oil when its mixed before it rises, but that’s more to keep it from sticking to the bowl as it rises and from getting any kind of dry crust. Then I just roll it as thin as possible. Works better for pizza than calzone but can be done. Also, to cut costs (I’m in MN and lettuce and spinach have gone through the roof) I’ve been substituting collard greens for spinach (.99 for a large bunch). Steam it a little first or I just throw it on raw. And for calorie counting zuchini adds a lot of bulk without many calories (sadly, also really expensive right now). If you use it on pizza/calzone either cook it with your tomato sauce, slice it thinly and let it sit out for an hour to dry out before you put it on/in your pizza/calzone (otherwise it can be kind of watery), or put it on top of the cheese (if not vegan) and brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs so it kind of broils on top. I’m doing a rye crust tonight to pair with a little sausage and sauerkraut mixed with some steamed cabbage (low cal bulk again!)and a sprinkle of swiss cheese.

  18. Trent,

    Please keep these recipes coming. I have used a couple of them and plan on using more of them in the future. This is one of my favourite parts of your blog.

    Rocky

  19. I use roughly the same proportions that Trent listed to make four calzones, at two servings per calzone for eight servings total. The same recipe also makes two large, thin-crust pizzas. I’m not sure about the WW recipe – it seems like a lot of oil, but I’ve never tried it. And as someone else mentioned, the addition of sugar is as food for the yeast, who will not be able to eat Splenda. If you’re concerned about calories, you’d be better off to leave the sugar out altogether, and not bother with another sweetener.

  20. #8 Mari, I am with you on the negative comments. If folks think its that bad, I would recommend you start your own blog!

  21. Peggy #26 and Marie #8, I agree with you! I used to enjoy reading the comments for further tips and info, but many are just annoyingly negative now. Lighten up, people!

  22. Quinoa is awesome! I’m always extolling the virtues – because it’s easy (or easier) to cook than white rice but cooks in about the same time.

    Plus the quinoa triples or quadruples when it cooks (there are variables). The other day I cooked 2 cups dry and ended up with 8 cups, but when I cooked 1/2 cup dry it tripled.

    So, while quinoa is more expensive than brown rice, a little goes a long way.

    This is my method of cooking:

    Rinse quinoa until water runs clear.*

    Put 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water in a pot with dash of salt. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer, cook 15 minutes.

    *I don’t always rinse it, there’s a bitter coating and most of the processing takes it off so you don’t have to rinse it. But I do notice when I don’t rinse it there’s a bit of a “tang”.

  23. Also besides having protein, fiber and iron, it has all of the essential amino acids making it a complete protein.

  24. Thanks, Trent. I used your dough recipe to make one large pizza. I ate half last night and the other half for lunch today. I scrounged around in my pantry to come up with the toppings. I had olives, mushrooms and pine nuts – yum. Calories? I mixed the dough and then I ran five miles while it proofed. Delicious!

    This is for #8 Mari, #12 Sean, #26 Peggy and #27 Louise: Some time ago I was really bothered by a certain person’s consistent negativity and nit-picking. I emailed Trent and asked him to move the writer’s names to the top of the comment, which he did. Now I just skip the flamers and you can too. It won’t take you long to figure out who the Eeyores are.

  25. Note to 15 Kristine – #16 Britttany is 100% correct about the purpose of the sugar. If you read Trent’s post carefully, it doesn’t mention sugar at all. I discovered it on the back of the yeast package and I added only 1/4 teaspoon. I’m not an experienced yeast baker and I don’t have a 1/3 t. measuring spoon so I had to finagle the recipe a little bit, but it turned out fine.

    #18 Holly – Have you tried the dollar stores? I can usually find spinach there, sometimes it’s even organic. Occasionally they have artichoke hearts, but they’re usually from China, alas. Trent used artichokes because he had them on hand. That’s the beauty of this recipe: you can use up whatever bits & pieces you have.

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