Thursday, October 25

Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Pie and Manny Being Manny - It Doesn't Get Any Better

For dinner most nights Jeff and I put on some music, light some candles (more out of necessity than romance -- we don’t have a dining room fixture), and talk about our days. We look forward to this time together and would never think of spoiling it by turning on the TV. Well, almost never. There are a couple of exceptions:

1) Monday Night Football (although we sometimes hit mute to give ourselves a reprieve from Tony Kornheiser's bantering).

2) Sunday Night Football, hosted by John and Al, because we love John and Al.

We live on the West Coast, so games start three hours earlier, around 5 or 6 pm. This means by the time we eat dinner around 7:00, the game is already half over. Now, we can’t be expected to miss it entirely, can we?

On these nights the food is usually fun -- comforting, low-maintenance dishes that make you feel like you're at the game while seated comfortably on your own sofa. To avoid gaining five pounds by halftime, I forgo take-out for homemade.

This past Sunday, we had spinach and ricotta calzones or pies, as we call them. These half moon-shaped baked pies are ideal football viewing food: their crispy exterior reveals a creamy ricotta-spinach filling that is salty, savory, and satisfying. And the best part is no silverware is required, so you can keep your eyes focused on the screen and not miss a touchdown (something for which I am notorious).

Oh. Jeff just reminded me that there is a third time TV is allowed during dinner:

3) A Red Sox post-season game. They're in the World Series again this year, and they trounced the Colorado Rockies in game one last night. I mean, what could be more fun than watching Manny being Manny and listening to Joe Buck's bantering? (Joe kinda grows on you).

Now unless you want your calzones to be as soggy as Fenway Park was last night, here are a few pointers:

*Use fresh spinach instead of frozen, if available, since it releases less water.

*Squeeze the water out of the spinach after cooking it.

*Season the spinach after extracting the water, so the seasonings aren't released. And don't be afraid to season generously with salt and other spices, since spinach is bland until dressed up properly.

*Nutmeg is an ideal flavor enhancer for spinach, but it can be intense. I suggest using it sparingly and tasting as you go.

Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Calzones
Print the recipe only here.
Makes 2 large pies

1 pound pizza dough

2 tsp olive oil
12 oz fresh baby spinach, rinsed (about 12-13 cups)
12 roughly chopped Kalamata olives
1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded part-skim milk mozzarella cheese
A couple of pinches of freshly grated nutmeg (or a couple of dashes of ground)
A few shakes of crushed red pepper
A generous amount of salt
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil for brushing the pies

Preheat oven to 500 if using a pizza stone or 425-450 if using a baking sheet.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook 1-2 minutes until wilted. Remove spinach from pan and place in a colander. Squeeze the spinach with the back of a spoon until the water is extracted, and it looks dry. Place spinach in a bowl; add olives, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, nutmeg, crushed red pepper, and salt. Mix well. Taste to make sure it is adequately seasoned.

To form the calzones:
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 spinach-ricotta 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 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil.

For a pizza stone, bake at 500 degree for about 10-15 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is golden brown.

For a baking sheet, bake at 450 for about 25 minutes, or until both the top and bottom of the crust is golden brown.

You might also like these football friendly foods:
Broccolini and Sun-Dried Tomato Pie
Grilled Lamb Sandwiches
Broccoli Rabe and Sausage Sandwich with Sharp Provolone
Barbecue Pizza
Dad's Patriot Potato Pizza

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Bradley said...

The calzone looks fantastic but I have to disagree about Joe Buck and the whole Fox crew. Did you cathc Stephen King's comment during the ALDS? He said that with Fox covering the games now there is 20 minutes between the top and the bottom of the innings. Enough of my rant - clearly sleep deprived from watching the game last night.

Asha said...

We love Calzone.That combo looks delicious. I made Feta and Broccoli Calzones last Saturday!:)
Red Sox won!:)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

But even without purpose, candles are romantic!
I love the calzone idea and spinach is my all time favorite. This combo looks fabulous. I'm a firm believer in fresh over frozen spinach! I try to keep a 3 pound bag from Sam's in the fridge and it doesn't go bad.

Deborah said...

These calzones look amazing!!

Brilynn said...

Those sound delicious!
I have definitely over-nutmegged things before though and know to tread lightly...

Julie said...

Trounced is right! This reminds me of spanakopita, but with no need for utensils. I made some "green monster cookies" for my blog last night. I'm a big red sox fan. I also went to Boston College, so tonight I'm getting a Boston sports double whammy:)

Katie Zeller said...

We always light candles - have every night for more years than I'm willing to disclose...damn year 30...ooops, that's disclosure, isn't it!
I've never made calzones - but with the spinach, ricotta olive...I am tempted. very tempted...

Anonymous said...

what a gorgeous photo! that looks delish.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Now this is real Rhode Island food! And the perfect thing for watching the game here in Red Sox Nation!

Stella said...

Your hubby is a lucky hubby!
These calzones look wonderful & ever sooooooo delicious. I haven't eaten them for AGES & was just looking for a recipe;)

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

yum. yum. Hey Stephanie! Get a load of this!

Dani Spies said...

I love spinach and nutmeg together...these calzones look delicious and I bet they taste even better!!

Abby said...

I was shocked by the score last night. And even more so by the fans leaving in the SEVENTH INNING. As for football? Well, I like the cooking part that you mention ...

Nice tips on the spinach. I agree that it's bland, and I'd rather have it raw in salads. I'll have to try your suggestions!

Mishmash ! said...

Susan, its getting cold here and i wish i could have those warm calzone with a bowl of soup!!! Atleast I will make some soup for dinner tonight :)

SO you re having a romantic candle light dinner every night...good that u dont have a dining room fixture :D


Chubbypanda said...

Lol. You know, I'm notorious for missing home runs. Probably 'cause I'm off trying to get something from the concession stand.

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

Susan - your calzones are perfection! Those results would leave any kind of take-out food in the dust!

cookiecrumb said...

We did lobstah last night. It worked.

Nabeela said...

Love spinach in almost anything! The calzones look fabulous.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Bradley-Glad you like the calzones! I figure the Rockies have to play better tonight. We went to bed after the 7th inning; you might have too? So if you didn't get much sleep last night, tonight might mean even less.

Asha-Feta and broccoli is a great combination!

Tanna-I know. Fresh tastes better and releases so much less water.

Deborah-Thanks so much!


Julie-My brother went to BC too!I can't wait to see your Green Monster cookies!

Katiez-I love to make calzones. Really. The smell when they're baking in the oven is fabulous. I hope you try it!

Amanda-Many thanks!

Lydia-And once a Red Sox fan, always a Red Sox fan.

Valentina-Don't you love it when that happens?


Dani-Honestly, they are so good!

Abby-Seriously. For Red Sox fans to leave early, it had to be something unusual. Even though I want them to win, it was painful to watch after a while.

Shn-I agree. :)

Chubbypanda-It's like I time it to miss them.

T.W.-Wow! Thanks! Maybe I should pitch them to Papa John. ;)

Cookiecrumb-Lobsta is awwwwesome for a Bawwwston Red Sawwwx game. ;)

Nabeela-I do too!

Anh said...

this is delicious! perfect for a nite in in front of the TV! It will be soccer for me :D

Anonymous said...

That calzone looks incredible. Spinach and ricotta is just my kind of combinations.

KellytheCulinarian said...

What a great combination!

Anonymous said...

Oh YUM. These look wonderful! I love the idea of the kalamata olives tucked in there, and I'm a sucker for anything made with pizza dough (I was staring at the top photo hoping against hope it wasn't puff pastry, which I don't do).

I have a gorgeous 4'x8' raised bed of spinach in the garden right now, but I'd probably have to decimate the entire thing to get 12-13 cups, and even then I'm not sure. Hmmmm. . . would probably be worth it, though. In any case, your wonderful recipe has been saved to! : )

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those calzone look wonderful and ever so tasty! I'd love to eat one of those now...
I've seen (on TV) what's happening in San Diego and I do hope that you are doing well. Terrible!



Anonymous said...

Yummy! I hope you are well susan

I usually can't comment here because of my slow dialup.

I can only read, but tonight I am on my sons DSL and does it rock!~

I wish I could get DSL where I live. or I need to babysit more often..

sra said...

Glad you're okay, Susan. No way I can make pizza dough myself but we get readymade pizza bases here. Would this work with that, I wonder.

Andrea Ferrigno said...
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Anonymous said...

Bedda matri, I didn't know that you Americans cooked our national Sicilian "scacce" (ska-tchee) or calzones or pie, as you call them. It's and excellent idea, I'll cook it when my wife's watching her tv novelas, as my grandmother used to...

Anonymous said...

In our household, televisions can live their entire lives without broadcasting sports [well, exceptions are sometimes made when the St. Louis Cardinals see post-season action]. Still, these beautiful calzones sound perfect for a movie night too, Susan--maybe popping in one of the Bourne DVDs and not missing a minute of the action. Hmmmm--maybe tonight, in fact.

Wendy said...

Oh my. I'm drooling. These look amazing! Spinach and ricotta is such a wonderful combination.

Lisa Johnson said...

I LOVE this title!!! Last night's game was just superb!!! I was holding my breath until the very end. And I agree that spinach, egg, and nutmeg are a great combination. I use the same things when I make a frittata or quiche. Go Sox! ; )

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Anh-I'm a newbie to soccer. I don't know the rules, and I've seen maybe one or two games. I enjoyed them though.

Veronica-They're naturals together.


Farmgirl Susan-It's a lot of spinach, but you know how it cooks down to practically nothing! Trust me, this pie is worth using the garden spinach. Thanks for saving the recipe too; I appreciate it!

Rosa-We are fine. Thank you for your concern.

Sue-We are well, thanks. It's great to hear from you again! That's an odd perk of babysitting, huh? ;)

Sra-Do you mean it's already shaped like a circular pizza? If so, I would not think it would work since the dough needs to be pliable and stretch over the filling. I suppose you could make a pizza out of the same ingredients, though I'd probably place a layer of mozzarella on the dough so the toppings would adhere. I do have an easy recipe for homemade dough if you'd like it.

Renzo-Well, you just taught me something new too. We owe a lot of our food heritage to Italians. Grazie!

Terry-I would highly recommend them for movie night.

Wendy-Wow! Thanks!

Anali-Their offense was explosive!

Nora B. said...

Susan, your calzones look delicious. I know what you mean about the nutmeg. I was overzealous once while making spinach and ricotta cannelloni and it tasted soapy.... so I had to drown it with a very strong tasting sauce.

Mimi Lenox said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Patricia Scarpin said...

I didn't know this detail about spinach and nutmeg, Susan - and these calzones look so good!

Kajal@aapplemint said...

the calzones look superb ...would even taste nice in phyllo pastry . Its nice to know u guys have a peaceful dinner. Ours if often disturbed by the tele :( , but when we are with the whole family then its a proper dining table dinner.

Chris said...

Looks wonderful! I love calzones and this one looks light and delicious! Going to have to try this the addition of nutmeg! :)

Deborah Dowd said...

We were doing exactly the same thing tonight (watching Sunday football)... until the Redskins-Pats game ruined my apetite. Maybe I'll try these when the Packers play tomorrow night!

Anonymous said...

Sox are gonna finish it off tonight. Have to save this for the next Pats game.

Sig said...

You guys are soo cute and romantic... candle light, whatever the reason may be... :) For us, it used to be dinner together in front of TV, now it is going to two different rooms with our dinner to watch our respective shows... we do kiss each other's beer bottles before parting ways though ;)
Love the calzone, the nutmeg taste must be sooo great!

Scribbit said...

Glad to hear you've been safe from the fires and still cooking amazing food.

Me and my boys mourned our poor Rockies. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

spinach pies are something near and dear to my heart. its a ri thing, i bet yours are wonderful. droooool.....

Renee said...

Wow, those look good. Calzones are just too good...I too try to forgo meat when I make them as there's already plenty of ricotta in there.

bazu said...

Congrats about the Red Sox!

Oh, and your calzones look so good. I've been on a pizza and calzone kick lately, so will have to try these... thanks for the nutmeg tip! It sounds so right, but I've never tried it.

Amy said...

These look absolutely mouthwatering! Now I know what to make for dinner tonight. :)

Toni said...

I love the combination of spinach and nutmeg - something my husband taught me. I've made empanadas, but never calzones. Same idea, different culture. These look like my idea of perfect - for movie viewing!

Jeanne said...

Those look just awesome. For the longest time, my favourite pizza was a spinach, feta and bacon one served at my favourite pizzeria - I cna only imagine how fabulous these flavours would be in a handy calzone...

Good for you not turning the TV on every night. I often bemoan the fact that I married the TV monster ;-)

Bradley said...

So we made it through the Series, time to catch up on some sleep!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Nora-Soapy and like candles! Uck.

Patricia-I hope you give it a try.

Kate-I've had Greek spinach pies made in phyllo and adored them.

Chris-It is rather light, esp. since ricotta isn't a heavy cheese.

Deborah-We missed the Packers, as we were on the road really late. Heard it had a dramatic ending too.

Anonymous-I have to agree with you.

Sig-You crack me up.

Michelle-Thanks so much. My condolences about the Rockies.

Aria-We talk about RI the whole time we're eating them!

Nan-For some reason, I think spinach is better without meat, though I like broccoli rabe with sausage.

Bazu-You'll be pleasantly surprised, but proceed cautiously!

Amy-Oh, good!

Toni-Yeah, they are like empanadas, and they're perfect for movie night.

Jeanne-Spinach and feta get along beautifully, don't they?

Bradley-My dad in RI is still trying!

Nora Leah Sherman said...

Oh. My. God.

That is one gorgeous hunk of breadcheeseveg.


Chef JP said...

Really enjoyed your calzone recipe---I will mention it in my weekly food blog round-up--thanks for some football friendly food!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Nora Leah-Why. Thank. You. :)

Chef JP-Many thanks! Even if you don't love football, you gotta love calzones.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I think my boyfriend has instituted the same "TV-while-eating" rules. We both love calzones, so I'll have to give these a try!

TBC said...

The calzones look absolutely beautiful!