You’re familiar, I’m sure, with that strange phenomenon of loving something fiercely in your youth, then as you get older and wiser you can’t quite figure out if that thing you so dearly love is actually truly lovable, or if you only love it because it was a part of your childhood? Take N*Sync, for instance. I still enjoy their songs on the rare occasion when I hear one. But I don’t have even the slightest idea if it’s actually good music (yes? no?), or if I just like it now because I was such a fan when I was a kid (Lance! Beautiful beautiful Lance!!!!). Know what I mean?
These calzones, however, do not fall under the realm of the nostalgia phenomenon. I loved them when I was a kid, yes. But I love them as an adult not just because I ate them as a kid, but because they actually, honestly, really and truly are delicious.
My mom made this recipe fairly often when I was growing up, and they were always a family favorite. They were a frequent request for kids’ birthday dinners, and were one of the first dinners I made for Jeff when we were dating. And I’m a big enough person to admit that perhaps these delicious calzones were a big part of why he ended up marrying me instead of running for the hills after a few short weeks with me and my particular brand of crazy, like every other boyfriend before him. If I’d made them calzones, who knows where I’d be right now?
My only complaint about them, which isn’t even really a complaint at all when I think about it, is that they have ruined me for boring calzones. I didn’t even know until I was in college that there was such a thing as calzones that had only cheese inside. This recipe, packed with sausage and vegetables and spices and two cheeses, has made almost every other calzone I’ve ever eaten seem downright boring to me. We all have our crosses to bear. And to this day, this is literally the only dish I’ve ever liked mushrooms in. Those foul little fungi are only acceptable in calzone form.
Sausage and Veggie Calzones
Makes about 10 calzones for me, but of course it depends on how big/small you make them. I make mine fairly large.
1/2 pound mild Italian sausage
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 carrots, grated
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (or, even better if you have time for it and enjoy making bread dough, replace this with one batch of your favorite homemade pizza dough—I like this one)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cook the sausage, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and grated carrots in a large pan (sprayed with nonstick spray) until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Add tomato sauce, basil, oregano, sugar, and salt; simmer 5 minutes. Add cheeses and stir until they begin to melt; remove from heat.
Divide the dough, and roll out into roughly 6-inch diameter circles. Place a generous scoop of the sausage/veggie filling off-center in each circle, fold dough over the filling, and pinch the edges together to seal. Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprinkled with cornmeal) for 12-18 minutes or until the tops of the calzones are golden brown.
If you’d like, serve with heated marinara sauce for dipping. (I never do.)