Hot Pockets {ratatouille calzones}

As a big fan of Jim Gaffigan, I immediately think of this whenever I hear the words “hot pocket.” It’s definitely worth watching although I’m a bit nervous that you may not actually want to eat this recipe when you’re through. Keep in mind that I’m not actually advocating that you ingest a hot pocket, only suggesting that you consider making a calzone sometime soon.

The last time I made pizza dough I put 1/2 of it in the freezer to save for later rather than cooking four pizzas for two of us. It only took me about 10 years to figure that one out. Because we’re always trying to cut back on our meat intake, I was brainstorming about what sort of vegetarian pizza to make and rather than just mushrooms like I usually do, I was in the mood for something more – something warm and satisfying and cozy like ratatouille. Zoinks!

As you already know, I do not believe that ratatouille should ever contain eggplant, and because I didn’t have one lying around, I skipped the onion too. And then I got to thinking, I bet it would be more fun to cram a bunch of vegetables inside a calzone instead of trying to balance them on top of some dough. And so, the ratatouille calzone was born.

Calzones are fun. They’re easy to make and even if they get leaky in the oven or overly gooey, they still taste delicious. I firmly believe that you must have a dipping sauce at the ready and so I whipped up a quick tomato sauce to serve on the side. With the dough already being made and the sauce being super simple, the whole dinner came together pretty easily on a weeknight. Feel free to buy pre-made dough (I know Publix and Trader Joes both sell decent versions) and jarred sauce if you have one you like.

Here’s the business:

  • Leftover pizza dough (enough for one whole pizza makes a calzone for two)
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes, whole
  • Olive oil
  • 7-8 bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 egg, beaten

We’re going to start with the veg. Preheat your oven to 425°F and grab a medium-sized sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Chop your bell pepper, zucchini and squash into similar sized pieces and drop in a medium bowl. Toss with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, some salt and red pepper flakes and give a good shake. Arrange in one layer on your baking sheet and pop in the oven to roast for about 30 minutes or until you start to get some color on there and they begin to soften a bit.

DSC_0306About 15 minutes into their roasting, add the grape tomatoes to the pan and roast with the veggies for the rest of the time. Pull out and set aside when they’re the color and texture you like.

DSC_0345Whilst that is going down, let’s make the sauce.

DSC_0329Heat a small saucepan over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add in your minced garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano and cook for about 60 seconds. Meanwhile, drop the whole tomatoes and the sauce into a mini prep or small food processor and whir. Add the pureed tomatoes to the garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Uncover toward the end if you’d like the sauce to thicken up. Easy peasy.

Let’s build a calzone. Keep your oven at 425°F and arrange the pizza stone on a rack in the middle of the oven. Let your dough rest at room temperature for about an hour before you want to stretch it. When the time comes, throw some flour down on the counter and go to town

DSC_0353Roll, pull, stretch, toss or otherwise flatten and make round your dough. Throw that on a peel that you’ve covered with some cornmeal. Take your roasted veggies and pile them on half the dough like so.

DSC_0363Top with the bocconcini, dollops of ricotta and fresh chopped basil.

DSC_0368Now for the fun part. Moisten the edge of the dough with wet fingertips and use whatever technique you like to seal the calzone into a giant half-moon shape. I use the desperation technique, aka, whatever works. Once you’ve got the whole thing sealed up, brush with a beaten egg mixed with a bit of water to make a mo’ prettier crust.

DSC_0374Gingerly, slide that beast onto the pizza stone and wait about 20-25 minutes. If you’re like me, things may get crazy, so I recommend sticking a large sheet pan under the pizza stone to catch any juicy runoff that may occur.

When your calzone looks like this, extract it from the oven.

DSC_0376I’m so hungry right now.

Cut it in half and giggle with glee.

DSC_0395Serve it up with the sauce. Go to town. I don’t use a fork.

DSC_0412I don’t even feel like it’s even that unhealthy, what with all the delicious veggies up in there!

In the words of T.I., “recognize I’m back.”