Calzones with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Calzones are traditional Italian stuffed breads. This calzone with sausage and broccoli rabe happens to be bursting with mozzarella, Parmesan, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Sorta like a folded-over pizza slice.

Two ricotta calzones with sausage and broccoli rabe, one cut in half, the other whole, on a wire rack

These calzones with sausage and broccoli rabe remind us of several different flavors we appreciate and respect all in tandem with one another in a little different fashion than plain old pizza. The instructions may seem long but rest assured they’re simple and easy and full of step-by-step instructions. Not a terrible afternoon project. And, we assure you, quite a lovely dinner to follow.–Renee Schettler

What's the difference between a calzone and a stromboli?

A calzone is a calzone is a calzone. Except when it’s not. On the East Coast, a similar pizza-like concoction of dough and cheese and other ingredient goodness is known not as a calzone but as a stromboli. (Sounds sorta like something that you’d find in Geppetto’s workshop, doesn’t it?) It’s relatively common in Philadelphia and the surrounding area and it’s actually distinct from a calzone. As to the precise difference between the two, we defer to food writer Bill Daley and his uber-helpful explanation. Essentially, a calzone is what you’ll find here, in this recipe. It’s a sort of stuffed pizza of sorts. A stromboli is more rolled than stuffed (and, to be frank, it also seems more specific in terms of what ingredients it can or cannot contain). Whereas we like to play loose and easy with the ingredients depending on our mood and the contents of our fridge. We expect you’ll do the same.

Calzones with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • 3 H
  • Serves 6
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Special Equipment: Pizza stone or cast-iron skillets

Ingredients

  • For the dough
  • For the calzone filling

Directions

Make the dough

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, and table salt to combine. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer and, on medium-low speed, add first the olive oil and then gradually add the water in a slow steady stream, continuing to combine until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 10 minutes.

Lightly slick a large bowl with a little oil. Form the dough in a ball, transfer it to the bowl seam side down, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap lightly slicked with oil or nonstick vegetable spray and let it rise in a warm spot until double in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Make the calzone filling

While the dough rises, in a largish bowl, combine the cheeses, egg yolk, oregano, table salt, and black pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is ready.

Remove the casing from the sausage. Cook the sausage in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and breaking the sausage into 1/2 inch crumbles, until it’s no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds or so.

While the sausage cooks, wash and dry the broccoli rabe and trim the stalks about 1 inch below the leaves, discarding the ends. Cut the broccoli rabe crosswise into 1-inch pieces. 

Stir the broccoli rabe into the sausage and then add the water and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until the broccoli rabe is still slightly crisp yet almost tender and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. It may be necessary to add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to coax the broccoli rabe to almost tenderness.

Transfer the contents of the skillet to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, pat dry with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture so your calzone isn’t soggy.

Assemble the calzones

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and place a pizza stone or a couple cast-iron skillets turned upside down on the oven rack. Preheat the oven to 500 °F (260°C) for at least 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly slick it with oil.

Turn the risen dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Divide the dough in half, and then cut each half into thirds. Gently shape each piece of dough into a ball. Transfer to the baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap that you’ve slicked with a little oil. Let the dough rest at least 15 minutes but no more than 30 minutes. 

Cut eight 9-inch squares of parchment paper. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time and keeping the other pieces covered, roll the dough into a 9-inch round. Place the dough round on a parchment square and cover it with another parchment square. Roll out another dough ball, set it on top of first dough round, and cover it with a parchment square. Repeat to form a stack of 3 dough rounds, covering the top round with a parchment square. Form a second stack of 3 rounds with the remaining dough balls and parchment squares.

Remove the top parchment square from the first stack of dough rounds and place it on the work surface. (If the dough rounds have shrunk, gently roll them out again to 9-inch rounds.) Spread 1/6th of the ricotta mixture on the bottom half of each dough round, leaving a 1 inch border plain. Place 1/6 of the sausage mixture on the cheese filling. 

Fold the top half of the dough over the filling-covered bottom half, leaving 1/2 inch border uncovered. Gently place your fingertips on the top layer of dough and press ever so slightly to let any air escape. Beginning at one end of the seam, place your index finger diagonally across the edge and use your thumb to gently pull the bottom layer of the dough over the tip of your index finger, and press the dough to seal. Repeat the process until the calzone is fully sealed. With a very sharp paring knife or razor blade, cut 5 slits, each about 1 1/2 inches long, diagonally across the top of the calzone, making sure to cut through just the top layer of dough and not completely through the calzone.

With a pastry brush or your fingertips, brush the tops and sides of the calzones with oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Trim the excess parchment paper.

Slide the calzones and their parchment onto a pizza peel or an upside-down baking sheet and then slide them onto the hot pizza stone or the bottom of the cast-iron skillets. (You’ll probably need to bake the calzones in batches. Typically 2 will fit on a baking stone.) Bake until the calzones are golden brown, about 15 minutes. 

Carefully slide the parchment and calzones onto the pizza peel or upside-down baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack. Remove the calzones from the parchment and, if you can resist diving straight in, let them cool for 5 minutes. Originally published June 18, 2004.

Print RecipeBuy the Baking Illustrated cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

These calzones with sausage and broccoli rabe were a great hit for Mother’s Day dinner this year. All the guests quickly devoured their calzones and asked for the recipe before they left. The preparation was time-consuming but the end result was well worth the effort.

Excellent recipe. Very happy with the results. This recipe takes some time and planning but is not difficult and the flavors are delicious.  The dough came together and was easy to work. And the filling was well-seasoned and what could be better than sausage, broccoli rabe, and Italian cheeses!

The calzones are large and the filling is plentiful. I do recommend serving with tomato sauce on the side. I love this type of recipe, it lends itself very well to substitutions or personal taste, (ie seasonal vegetables).  The addition of salt to the finished calzone was also very good.

My only negative, I picked a very hot day to make the calzones, the oven needs to be very hot and the kitchen was overheating. Making my case for an outdoor pizza oven.

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