Friday, July 10, 2009

Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Calzones

Jeff gave me one of those puzzled "are you sure this is going to work?" looks when I rattled off the filling ingredients for these Spinach and Feta-Stuffed Calzones we made for our Friday Night Pizza. I shrugged and just replied with "I guess we'll just have to wait and see!". Yeah, I then caught him rummaging through the pantry to see what he might be able to scrounge up in case this went south... no faith I tell you!

I don't think that the spread I had laid out on the counter was all that odd, but I think what threw him was one of my largest bowls literally overflowing with greens with a smaller dish of golden raisins beside it. Yes, there be dried grapes in these calzones! To get the filling ready to stuff in our favorite whole-wheat pizza dough, I started grabbing handfuls of the greens, a combo of tender baby spinach and peppery arugula, and throwing them into the skillet were I had softened a bit of onion and a few cloves worth of minced garlic. It didn't take long for the heat to widdle the greens down to almost nothing, which is why we needed that filled bowl to begin with - I think Jeff forgot about that and gained a little confidence when he saw the end result.

Those plump golden raisins then went in (which got an eyebrow raise!), along with buttery toasted pine nuts, fresh oregano, a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat and a splash of fresh lemon juice. Set aside to cool down a bit, we then added the crumbles of feta cheese - plain feta is fine, but if you wanted to push in a little boost, try one that comes flavored with dried tomato and basil or garlic and herb. As you know, when you wilt down spinach (and arugula), quite a bit of liquid escapes - the original recipe didn't call for draining that away, but there was way too much in the skillet to not cause issues. I decided to just pull out the filling ingredients with a slotted spoon into a separate bowl, then add back just enough of the liquid left behind to keep it moist, yet not swimming in juice.

Quartering the pound version of the dough, then stretching each out into a rectangle, was next on the list - I didn't get exact measurements here, but just eyeball how much filling you have to go in each and make sure the rectangle is large enough that you end up with plenty of dough to stretch over the filling. Assembled and sealed with the tines of a fork, the calzones were given a quick wash of milk and water to give some sticking power to the Parmesan cheese we sprinkled on top. Before being baked, be sure to give the dough a slice with a knife or poke with a fork on top - this gives the steam inside somewhere to go as it heats up and you won't end up with a blow out!

If you would like to make this a little easier on yourself, you could also just as well roll out the entire dough into a large rectangle, spoon the filling down one half and then enclose it with the uncovered half to make one giant version instead. The only thing you would need to watch out for is the baking time - you may need to extend it by a few minutes.

Even with its golden, cheesy crust, I did have to take a bite of mine first before Jeff decided it would be okay to try. I told you, he can be quite finicky sometimes! While quite savory, the little raisin nuggets, bursting with their warm juices, added such a unique contrast of sweetness that I found myself quite attracted to. I can see how this could be a love it or hate it combination, but Jeff did comment how surprised he was that he couldn't keep from going for that next forkful - score! Even though there was a conservative amount of pine nuts added, the richness from those three tablespoons helped keep the filling balanced and interesting, while the crumbles of feta cheese led the charge with their challenging salty edge. One interesting dish indeed!


  1. I love the combination of spinach and feta. The calzones look very Greek.

  2. Katie - It is a tasty combination, isn't it?

  3. I was so itching to try out this combination myself yesterday but I didn't have all the ingredients. So I rummaged through the kitchen and I made a variation with what I had on hand. I didn't have the arugula but I used frozen leaf spinach, well drained. I had the feta but no raisins or pine nuts. I did have some sweet italian sausage so I browned a couple out of the casing and added the crumbled sausage to the mix. Used a whole wheat pizza dough I had in the freezer, it was fabulous! But I want to try your recipe with the raisins and pine nuts.

  4. Realms - glad you made it work!