Everybody loves a calzone. Like a pizza that’s been folded into a hot pocket, it’s got everything you love in a single portion package. A pizza relies on an expanse of toppings to cover the crust, but a calzone encases the toppings within the crust, so it it’s easier to just skip the cheese. I like to make a plant based, whole food calzone with all the appeal that makes vegan Italian food irresistible.
Vegan Italian Food for Everyone
If you are looking for a dish to share with your omnivorous friends and family, this one is a good bet. Toasty golden turnovers filled with herbed chickpeas have all the appeal of pizza shop favorites, and all the ingredients are familiar and comfortable. Italian vegan food is easy to make with healthful, whole foods, because Mediterranean food is already packed with plants.
No-knead, Overnight Pizza Dough
No knead doughs are absolutely easy, as long as you plan ahead. In kneaded dough, the glutenin and gliadin that are in wheat flour are mixed with water, which creates coiled strands of gluten. Kneading the mixture stretches and strengthens the gluten strands, which form a network of stringy proteins that trap the bubbles of gas created by yeast or chemical leavening. But if you just mix the flour and water and let the dough rest overnight, the gluten forms without any muscle power. In the case of whole wheat flour, the time spent in the refrigerator also allows the bran and germ in the flour time to hydrate, which makes a huge difference in the final product. Chilling the dough puts the yeast into slow motion, so they can ferment the dough a bit, and develop flavors.
Vegan Meal Prep 101
To use this dough as a pizza crust, just double the dough part of the recipe. Then, when you take the dough from the refrigerator, use half to make a pizza crust. Just follow the instructions for making the calzone dough rounds, but make one big round, then par bake it on a sheet pan, for a prepped pizza crust to refrigerate or freeze until you want pizza. By making the extra dough, you prep for another meal, saving time and labor.
Because you know you will want pizza!
Chickpeas are having a moment, and are probably the most popular bean right now. Chalk it up to the ubiquity of hummus, or aquafaba, but whatever it is, I am glad people are eating more chickpeas.
(Hummus recipes to check out: Smoky Beet Hummus, Edamame Hummus)
The chickpea has a firmer bite than say, a Cannelini bean, and that may be part of the appeal. Adding the nutty, slightly chewy chickpea to the filling for these calzones gives them some heft and substance. Bathing the beans in a creamy pecan pesto accentuates the nuttiness of the beans, and adds an herbal note. The filling comes together in minutes, thanks to canned beans and the food processor.
Chickpea and Pecan Pesto Calzones
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley packed
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme or other herb
- 1/4 cup pecan pieces
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 large tomato chopped
- Mix water and yeast, when dissolved, stir in olive oil, then add flours and salt. Sitr just until mixed, it will be sticky and lumpy. Place in a lightly oiled container with a lid, let rest for 2 hours at room temp. When it starts to rise, fold in half three times. Put in refrigerator for 6-24 hours.
- Turn out on a floured counter and divide in 4 pieces. Roll into balls, let come to room temperature. Use plenty of flour to handle and shape.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place parchment or oil a sheet pan/tray.In a food processor, combine the parsley, oregano or thyme, pecans, garlic and salt and grind to a paste, scraping down until it is smooth. Add the olive oil and process. Scrape out into a medium bowl. Add the drained beans and stir vigorously to break some of the beans, then add tomatoes and toss to mix.
- On a floured counter, roll each out to a six inch long oval. Scoop about 1/2 cup of filling into the center of the dough, then dampen the bottom half of the dough's edge and fold the top over the filling. Press to seal, then crimp with a fork. Transfer to the prepared pan. Let the calzones rise for about 20 minutes, until they look puffy.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.