Sausage, Bell Pepper, and Pesto Calzone

Sausage pesto calzone

Don’t get me wrong. I love making traditional round pizzas as much as anybody else, but some times you just need a change of pace. That’s why this week I took my first trip into the land of making calzoni (plural of calzone), which are essentially folded pizzas. If you’re looking for something different from your normal pizza routine, maybe it’s time for you to try making a calzone as well.

After making my first calzone, I learned that there are several advantages and disadvantages of this style. Firstly, this style of pizza is very easy to eat and transport. It’s folded nature keeps all of the toppings neatly inside while you eat it. You can eat your pizza with one hand, leaving the other free, and you don’t even need a plate. In fact, I’m eating a delicious sausage and pesto calzone as I type this article. Another upside of this type of pizza is that it requires very little skill to make. If you can follow simple instructions, then anyone can make this style of pizza. You don’t need to know how to stretch dough or transfer pizza from the counter to a hot oven. There is truly no experience required.

While there are many advantages to the calzone, I have noticed that there are also some disadvantages. Primarily, making calzoni is more time intensive. More time is spent preparing the dough and toppings not to mention the time required to assemble each calzone. If you are not in a rush, that is a small price to pay for the convenience they provide when being eaten.

I know you didn’t stop by today to hear me pontificate on the advantages and disadvantages of this style of pizza. You came to learn how to make a delicious pesto calzone with sausage and other wonderful toppings (I guess with a calzone they are called innings.) This recipe makes a great dinner or lunch for the person on the go, and it’s incredibly tasty too. The combination of pesto, sausage, mozzarella cheese, and red/yellow bell pepper is a classic combination of Italian inspired flavor all rolled into a handheld pizza.

Sausage and Pesto Calzone Recipe

To start this recipe, you will first need to make a my New York style pizza dough. Prior to fermentation, you will need to separate the dough into four equally sized pieces as shown below.

Four fermented dough balls each ready to become a calzone

Separate the dough into four equally sized pieces before fermenting. Then, roll each into a dough ball and store for 24 hours.

Following this step, you will need to flatten each dough ball into a round disc with a rolling pin. Although I generally consider using a rolling pin when making pizza a cardinal sin, this instance is one exception. It’s okay to use a rolling pin for this task because we are not interested in achieving significant oven spring or an open crumb like we would be for other forms of pizza.

Pizza dough for a calzone

Flatten the dough into a thin disc.

The next step is as simple as placing the toppings (innings?) onto the dough. I advise that you bake these on a flat oven sheet. When filling each calzone, drape half of the dough over the side of the oven sheet to help keep your stuffing under control. If you place too much stuffing, then you will not be able to close the calzone. I suggest that you leave some space around your filling so that you can easily pinch the two sides of dough together to close the calzone.

Open calzone with stuffing

Drape half of the dough over the side of the baking sheet before stuffing each calzone.

The rest is as simple as closing the other half of the dough over the stuffing, pinching the excess around the rim, and placing the calzoni in the oven.

Finished sausage and pesto calzone cut in half

Isn’t that interior pretty?

This is an original recipe inspired by The Pizza Book (affiliate).

Sausage and Pesto Calzone

This sausage and pesto calzone is the perfect on the go dinner or lunch. It contains a delicious combination of sausage, pesto, bell peppers, and mozzarella. Not only does it taste great, it's easy to make too!

Servings 4 calzoni

Ingredients

Dough

  • 286 g (2.5 cups) bread flour
  • 177 g (3/4 cup) warm water
  • 1.43 g (1/8 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 2.86 g (1/2 tsp) sugar
  • 5.72 g (1 1/8 tsp) fine sea salt

Stuffing

  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage
  • pesto
  • 1 bell pepper (yellow/red)
  • 8 oz mozzarella

Instructions

  1. Begin by making the dough. Please refer to my New York style pizza dough recipe to learn how to make the dough for these calzoni.

  2. After preparing my New York style pizza dough, cut the dough into four equally sized pieces. Roll each piece into a small dough ball and place on a floured plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 18-24 hours.

  3. Remove the dough balls from the refrigerator and allow them to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. During this time, preheat your oven to 500 F (260 C).

  4. Remove the casing from the sausage. Make small 1/2 inch (1 cm) diameter sausage balls using your hands. Using a pan, cook the sausage until the centers are no longer pink. Once these are cooked, set them aside.

  5. Dice a red or yellow bell pepper (or both).

  6. Cut the 8 oz mozzarella cheese into small cubes.

  7. Using a rolling pin, flatten each dough ball until a thin disc is formed.

  8. Drape the dough along the edges of the baking sheet as shown in the picture above.

  9. Fill each calzone with the toppings you have prepared, making sure they are spread and mixed evenly. Make sure to leave room around the edge of the dough. Using a fork (this reduces the oil within the calzone), lightly spread pesto over the stuffing ingredients.

  10. Close each calzone by connecting the unfilled half of the dough with the filled half.

  11. Pinch the edges of the dough together and place the calzoni in the oven.

  12. Bake on 500 F (260 C) for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the dough should start to turn a light, golden brown. Bake for another 10 minutes at 350 F (177 C).

  13. Remove the calzoni from the oven and allow them to cool. Be careful the stuffing inside will still be very HOT!

  14. Enjoy!

Richard

I'm Richard. I'm a regular guy who enjoys making great pizza in my spare time. I've been making pizza for a few years, and I'd love to share what I've learned with you.

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