Saturday, February 24

When the Moon Hits Your Eye, Like A Big Broccolini Pie, That's Amore

When Jeanne from Cook Sister! announced that pies would be the topic for this month’s Waiter, there’s something in my… food blog event, I knew exactly what I was going to make.

Where I grew up, every neighborhood was dotted with family-run bakeries and pizzerias. Just walking along the famed Federal Hill, the wafting aromas of freshly baked wood-fired pizzas and warm yeasty breads could make even the most carb-averse person swoon. And if the smell wasn't enough to entice you, then the sight was: crispy, steaming-hot breads, calzones, and pizzas proudly propped in the store windows beckoning you to come in and have one. And considering how many times I have been lured inside (especially at Buono’s and Crugnale’s Bakeries), I can assure you that they are impossible to resist.

Calzones are true comfort food. They quell your worst hunger and leave you feeling content. Their versatility of fillings ensures that there’s something for everyone to love. And best of all, for me, they do what comfort food should do: remind me of home.

My mom and I have made hundreds of calzones over the years; what’s funny is that we always called calzones filled with eggplant or sausage or meatballs "calzones," but calzones filled with spinach or broccoli were called "pies." Which got me thinking, what’s the difference? Nothing. Turns out a spinach or broccoli pie is just another name for a calzone.

The calzone, originated in Naples, Italy, is often referred to as a “turn-over” or "half-moon" and is made of pizza dough that is filled with cheeses, vegetables, and meats. Though mozzarella cheese is most commonly featured here in the US, many other types of cheese such as fresh ricotta, Provolone, and Parmesan are used as well. Calzones can be deep-fried, but I’ve always had baked. No matter the name, they all share one common trait: they are oh so satisfying.

I’m putting a little California twist on this recipe. Broccolini just debuted at the farmer’s market and is one of my favorite vegetables. As I learned last week, it is not merely young or baby broccoli; rather, it’s a hybrid of broccoli and Chinese kale. Broccolini are delicate, a svelte version of regular broccoli, and they have a beautiful grassy green color. Their flavor is reminiscent of broccoli but is distinctly sweeter, with a pleasing peppery aftertaste. In this recipe, its sweetness contrasts nicely with the rich sun-dried tomatoes, salty olives and cheese, and toasty pinenuts. Of course, you can substitute regular broccoli or the bolder broccoli rabe (rapini).

Broccolini and Sun-Dried Tomato Pie (or Calzone)

Print recipe only here.

2 tsp olive oil, plus 2 tsp for brushing on top of pies
1 pound pizza dough (brought to room temperature)
1/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced (dry-packed or oil-soaked)
1/8 cup pine nuts, toasted
1 cup broccolini, chopped
¼ cup black olives, such as Cerignola and Kalamata
½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
A few dashes of salt

Note: If you’re using dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes, then allow them to rest in warm water for 5 minutes before slicing.

To toast the pinenuts, place in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute or until golden brown. Shake the pan handle gently to ensure even toasting. Remove from heat.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp. olive oil; sauté broccolini for about 1-2 minutes until it turns bright green yet remains firm. Add remaining ingredients and gently mix. Heat for 1 minute more, then remove from heat. Taste the filling to adjust seasonings.

To form the pies:
Working on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half, and roll into two 8-10-inch ovals. For each piece of dough, put half of the broccolini mixture a bit above the center of the oval. Fold the dough to form a half-moon; seal the edges together by pressing down lightly. Then using your fingertips, fold the edge of the dough up, and pinch around the edge to create a seal. Brush them with the remaining 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil.

Baking pies on a baking sheet:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake on a rack in the lower third of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the bottom is browned. Then bump up the heat to 425, and move the pan to the upper third of the oven; bake an additional 15 minutes or until the top of the pie is golden brown and crispy.

Baking pies on a pizza stone:
Preheat the oven to 475-500 degrees, and heat the stone for at least 30 minutes. Cook pies directly on the heated stone for about 15 minutes or until both the bottoms and tops are golden brown and crispy.

1 pound of dough will make 2 large pies.

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s'kat said...

That is indeed primo comfort food!

Helene said...

I love the title of your post! That pie is gorgeous...I think I would eat 2 or 3 without a problem!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

OK, this is too weird.... I was just sitting down to write some recipes for calzones for my family cooking group that's coming next week! What a perfectly timed post -- I'll make this one of our recipes! The kids love calzones, and we don't have time to make the dough from scratch in our two-hour class. Thanks, Susan!

Anonymous said...

Yum! A "pocket" of yummy goodness! I am all about anything with sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts in the same recipe. This is one recipe for the collection.

Patricia Scarpin said...


Your calzones are amazing!
I'm gonna make pizza tonight - Saturday nights here in my house are all about homemade pizza - and maybe I'll make one calzone, too. Yours are so beautiful I'll have to have one before I start dreaming of calzones. :)

Here in Sao Paulo there are hundreds of pizza places - this regions is full of Itailan descendants, myself included - so pizza is a regular dish. People love it!

For us here, calzones are always baked, never fried, because for us calzones are "closed pizzas".

bazu said...

That sounds fabulous! I can never have calzones without broccoli for some reason (they are just so right together), but I think broccolini would be even better.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

S'Kat-You got that right!

Helene-Thanks! I've got a couple extra....:)

Lydia-My recipe for your 12-14 yr. olds--like, way cool! Really, I'm flattered. Hope the class goes well.

Chris-Oh, good, I'm so glad you like it!

Patricia-You keep giving me more reasons to come visit San Paulo. Homemade pizza every Saturday? Heaven.

Bazu-Broccolini really is something special.

Rachel Rubin said...

That looks so good! I have never made a calzone before. That can be added to my list. I kind of have a pastry fear and don't even own a rolling pin anymore.

Hope to see you at Leftover Tuesdays!

Toni said...

I've never made a calzone before, but I have made pizza. This one looks so good! I love broccoli and sun dried tomatoes. And pine nuts? Girl, I'm in!

Gattina Cheung said...

Susan, now I see, heeheee. What shall we make next :P
Great written article! And will take my time to read the link of Federal Hill again, very interesting!

Freya said...

The calzones look so good! We don't have them over here unless Paul makes them so it's always a special occasion!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Susan, love and calzones are both a "many splendored thing!" I'm swooning over the thought of a calzone for breakfast!

Alanna Kellogg said...

I'm not sure if I've actually eaten hundreds of calzones let alone made them! Thanks for the inspiration: they're definitely on my list. (And a GREAT headline, for sure!)

Anonymous said...

One word... Delicious!

Jeanne said...

I'm still giggling at your post title... It doesn't scan that well but boy, people will remember it! These look gorgeous and at the same time wholesome, which is generally a tricky balancing act to pull off. I also was not aware that broccolini is actually a hybrid but I guess you *do* learn something new every day. Thanks so much for a beuatiful entry & hope to see you again next month at WTSIM!

Unknown said...

Hi! I found your blog through Brilynn. You've got some good looking recipes. I love the way this broccoli dish looks. Yum! I also saw that your husband is a dermatology resident. I am currently in my second year of medical school (and SO ready to be in the hospital rather than classes!). I think I want to do pediatrics but have pondered a derm fellowship. Long way to go but the bug is there. We'll see. I'll be checking back in to see what else wonderful you come up with!

Mishmash ! said...

Susan, the second picture is quite enticing..and I just read about calzones in gattina's blog this morning and here I get to see one with a twist! Write up was quite informative.Thanks :)


Brilynn said...

I need to make some of these! They look great!

Anonymous said...

Man, those are some totally drool-worthy photos you've got going on there! What a great entry!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Rachel- Give it a try! I promise, it's easier than working with pastry dough. Thanks!

Toni-Thanks! If you've made pizza, then calzones will be a breeze! Hope you try it!

Gattina-Thanks! Federal Hill is one of my favorite places in RI. Hmm...what to make next....:)

Freya-Thanks! Calzones are so good they deserve a special occasion.

T.W.-Trust me, they are good for breakfast. I know.

Alanna-Now, I never said I ate hundreds. But we used to make about 6-10 at a time. 'Course, now that I think of it, I probably did eat hundreds.;) Thanks!

Kristen-Thanks a lot!

Jeanne-Thank you so much! Having a fantastic farmers' market helps me keep my dishes healthful. I had fun participating and look forward to the round-up.

Claire-Thanks a lot! So glad you found me.So exactly how do you do a food blog and go to med. school? ;) I'm sure you'll love third year. Best of luck!

Mishmash-Gattina's calzones look fabulous! Thanks! So glad to see another broccoli lover.

Brilynn-Thanks! You won't be disappointed.

Ellie-Wow, thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

That really looks wonderful. I love non-traditional toppings and fillings in my pizza and calzone. Too many sausage-pepper pizzas in college I guess!

Stella said...

Gosh, I haven't eaten Calzones for ages!!! I so wanna have one of yours right now!! And your filling sounds lovely...:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan - the calzones look fabulous! Broccolini is a relatively new veggie being served in our home, but we love it, and I'm always looking for new and interesting ways to use it!

Anonymous said...

Susan, these are beautiful!! I want one now! :-)

Melting Wok said...

Susan, I was waiting for something in my pie with broccolini, but, I couldn't find any at the market, so I ended up with beef & potatoes - cottage pie ? Jeff is one lucky man !! :)

Anonymous said...

That calzones look phenomenal! Love that pie crust!

wheresmymind said...

More melty cheese...less good for you stuff!! ;)

Rachael said...

This looks absolutely amazing. I love that you included sundried tomatoes and pine nuts - something I would have never thought of for a baked pizza! Looks wonderful - my mouth is watering

Kajal@aapplemint said...

A very catchy header....i like it..and not to mention your calzone...havent made one for a while now and seems like the perfect thing to make for dinner tonite :-))

cindy said...

mmm...they look divine! i have a calozone recipe my family likes. maybe that's whats for dinner tonight! my crust never looks that delicious though! (glad you posted on my site...i'm trying to re-assemble my favorite sites after recent computer woes!)

cindy said...

calzone! i forgot to say how jealous i am that you can go to a farmers market already! ours don't start up here in the seattle area till about may!

Anonymous said...

I have not tried Broccolini though I have seen it and now I think I gotta try it! :D
Thanks for dropping by my food blog!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Kate-And it's healthy too!

Valentina-Thanks! I wish I could bring one over to you!

Gilly-I hope you try it!

Nicole-Thanks a lot!

Shirley-The farmer who sold it is actually from Orange County. Your pie looks fantastic though!

Veronica-Oh, thank you!

Jeff-At least the broccoli balances it!

Rachael-Ooh, so glad you like it!

Kate-Thanks for the compliments!

Cinderelly- Thanks so much! We are spoiled--12 months of fresh produce. If it makes you feel any better, we're consistently the #1 or #2 worst traffic city in the country.

Tigerfish-If you like broccoli, you'll love broccolini. My pleasure!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Extraordinary!! You really sucked me in with the first photo but oh my goodness the one cut open, that looks just so good. And I love that you bake them and not fry! Bravo!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ooh, thanks so much for the kind words!

Scribbit said...

I can't remember if I said something already, but this looks terrific, and your calzone look so perfect. I always have trouble with mine unsealing in the oven and gooing everywhere, though they still taste good. I'll have to seal them like yours are sealed.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Oh, trust me, I've been there, done that. You should see my baking pans....

Lynne Daley said...

What a great looking calzone! I am defintely going to make this recipe!

Anonymous said...

yum! I'm from RI too and living in LA. My dad owned a fish market in Federal Hill where he also snuck in a brick oven for pizzas. the food in fed hill is hands down the best italian i agree!!

yay, these bring back such good memories :)

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Lynnylu-Thanks so much! I hope you like it!

Aria-Well, it really is a small world, isn't it? I'm so glad you commented. I can't beleive your dad owned a market on Federal Hill. I'd love to chat about RI some time. :)

Pille said...

I can't believe I missed this post when you put it up - only found my way here through Jeanne's roundup!
Such a lovely and colourful pie - bookmarked!!

Jade said...

Oh yummy! I love calzone, but haven't had it in years. I adore broccoli with sun-dried tomatoes. I might just have to try this one!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Pille-No worries! There are so many posts and so many blogs, it's hard to see them all. Thanks for bookmarking it!

Jade-I hope you do; the flavors marry beautifully.

Anonymous said...

It is very nice to hear that I am your favorite cousin. You are my favorite cousin. Now if I am you favorite cousin and somehow I helped inspire that olive oil cake with lemon and rosemary (which is actually the name of one of our other cousins)then how come I have not received one of these cakes in the mail?
Your site is fantastic, I recently started eating quinoa and I noticed you have a recipe. I am going to try it out.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

See what I mean--funny! Thanks for visiting!