When even my carb and ice cream loving husband raves about the flavor of “junk” food made with healthier ingredients, like a gluten free mac and cheese or the nutty flavor of the crust on these spelt dough calzones, you KNOW it’s good. At dinner I sometimes anxiously await his review, trying not to show it, and if I get that golden, “These are really good,” I do a little dance inside (or maybe for real). But really, what are the health advantages of using spelt flour over whole wheat or all purpose flour? Sure, it sounds healthier, but c’mon, it’s not even gluten free.
Here’s my brief analysis:
As noted, spelt and spelt flour are not gluten free, so they’re out if you have celiac or an allergy. However, to state things simply, the makeup of spelt, as opposed to traditional wheat, might be easier for you to digest if you’re gluten sensitive, and who isn’t these days? Aside from the gluten aspect, spelt provides plenty of protein, fiber, and several big vitamins. Not that specific, I know, but I’m not a nutritionist so I don’t want to go making outrageous nutrition claims. At the end of the day, yes, spelt is still a grain, but one that is not as commercially produced as wheat flour (especially if you opt for organic) and tastes the way I think whole grain flour should taste. Like something, with its own complex, nutty, light profile, not just a stretchy, bland vehicle for sauce and cheese.
On to more important things, though, like…making these calzones! If you make the dough a day or two in advance (or more, and freeze it), you’ll make quick, weeknight work of these stuffed pockets of cheesy vegetable goodness, or whatever filling you decide to use. You could go meat free, or you could throw in sausage or pepperoni, or you could even go dairy free and just use a little egg to bind your filling. The ingredients from my Mediterranean sweet potato pizza (the one that uses this same dough) would be awesome. The possibilities are practically endless, and the point of sharing this recipe is really for the dough.
A couple notes to that end. I’m not a dough expert, but I’ve done a decent share of kneading, and I’ve noticed two big differences when working with spelt flour, as opposed to whole wheat or all-purpose. First, spelt dough doesn’t require, and shouldn’t receive, as much kneading as more traditional wheat flour doughs. As long as you stick to a few minutes of kneading and not much more, you’ll be fine: you won’t overwork the dough, getting a tough crust or a dough that fails to rise. Second, I always, every single time, go through a little panic phase when waiting for my spelt dough to rise, because I find it does take a little longer to even start rising than your conventional wheat flour dough. Then, suddenly, after like an hour, it will just balloon. So have patience and don’t panic, especially if you’re depending on this dough to rise because you have people coming for dinner. Which you definitely should, given the deliciousness of these calzones.
If you like the looks of this recipe, check out my recipe for Mediterranean sweet potato pizza! It uses the same crust…an excellent reason to make a double batch of dough (which I do all the time–the quantities double quite well).
- 1 C warm (105 degrees F) water
- 2 t instant dry yeast
- 2 t kosher or sea salt
- 2½ C spelt flour, plus more as needed (SEE NOTES!)
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 C broccoli florets or peeled stem pieces
- 1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips
- ½ small red onion, sliced thick
- Olive oil
- ½ lb. grated smoked mozzarella
- ⅓ C cottage cheese (or ricotta)
- 1 egg, beaten, divided use
- Salt and pepper
- 2 C marinara or pizza sauce, heated
- In a medium mixing bowl (preferably metal or glass), mix warm water with the yeast and salt. You don’t need to wait for it to bubble but will know immediately by the "yeasty" smell if it’s active. Stir in 2¼ cups spelt flour with a wooden spoon, then add the remaining ¼ cup flour, if needed, until dough is cohesive enough to knead. Turn out onto a lightly floured (with more spelt flour) surface and knead vigorously (excellent video tutorial!) for a few minutes, adding more flour if the dough remains sticky, until it forms a smooth ball that’s only a little sticky. Drizzle the olive oil into the mixing bowl, add the ball of dough, turn to coat, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to double in size, one to two hours. If you don't have a really warm spot, the dough may take a little longer to double, but it should still rise.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface and knead a couple times. Either refrigerate the ball, wrapped in plastic, until ready to use (up to two days) or proceed with assembly.
- Toss the broccoli, pepper, and onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat and spread on a sheet pan. Roast at 425 on the top middle rack until slightly browned and just tender. Once cool, roughly chop the veggies.
- Combine roasted veggies with both kinds of cheese and half the beaten egg, plus a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. Set aside while you roll out the calzone dough.
- Move oven rack to the middle position and increase heat to 450. Clean sheet pan from the roasted veggies and line with parchment paper.
- Divide the calzone dough into 4 or 6 approximately equal pieces. Roll each into a ball, then, on a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a circle that's thin, but that you can still handle. As you finish, transfer each round onto the baking sheet, with part of the circle hanging off the edge of the sheet.
- Spoon about ⅔ cup of filling onto half of each dough round, leaving about an inch of space between the filling and the edge. Brush that gap lightly with water, lift the "empty" side of the dough up and over the filling, and gently press the edges together to seal. You can also gently press the sealed edge with a fork. When all the calzones are filled, Brush tops thinly with the remaining beaten egg and sprinkle with a little salt.
- Bake calzones for 12 to 15 minutes, until beginning to brown on top and dough is firm and sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool slightly before serving with warm marinara sauce.
Prep time is for active time only.
Since we ate them all, I haven't tried making the calzones ahead, BUT I suspect you could fully assemble them (except for the egg wash on top), freeze, covered in plastic wrap, on a baking sheet, then transfer to a freezer bag for storage. I would try cooking at the same temp, but for slightly longer.
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