Calzones with Sausage and Broccoli Rabe

Calzones are traditional Italian stuffed breads. This calzone with sausage and broccoli rabe is also 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

A calzone is a calzone is a calzone. Except when it’s not. See, some folks on the East Coast refer to a similar pizza-like concoction of dough and tomato sauce and cheese not as a calzone but as stromboli. Sounds sorta like something that you’d find in Geppetto’s workshop, doesn’t it? It’s actually distinct from a calzone, and it’s relatively common in Philadelphia and the surrounding area. As to the precise difference between the two, we defer to food writer Bill Daley and this uber-helpful explanation. Essentially, a calzone is what you 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 persnickety in terms of what it can or cannot contain in terms of ingredients. Honestly? While we prefer to be accurate in our depiction of anything food-minded, parsing definitions isn’t our favorite thing. We prefer to just pass the napkins and tuck into whatever’s on the plate in front of us. Originally published June 18, 2004.Renee Schettler Rossi

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


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  • For the dough
  • For the calzone filling


Make the dough
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt to combine. Attach the bowl and dough hook to the mixer and, with the mixer on medium-low speed, add first the olive oil and then gradually add the water in a slow steady stream, continuing to comine 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 sprayed with the spray and let 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, salt, and black pepper, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until the dough is ready.
Remove the casing from the sausage. 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. 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 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds.
Stir in the broccoli rabe, water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the broccoli rabe is still slightly crisp yet almost tender and the water has evaporated, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, pat dry with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. (This prevents the calzone from becoming soggy.)
Assemble the calzones
Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position, 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 olive oil.
Turn the risen dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Divide the dough in half, and then cut each half into thirds. Gently reshape 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. Set the dough round onto 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 the rounds with parchment beneath 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. Using your fingertips, gently press the edges of the dough together and lightly press the dough onto the filling, letting any air escape. Beginning at one end of the seam, place your index finger diagonally across the edge, 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 olive oil and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Trim the excess parchment paper and slide the calzones and their parchment onto a pizza peel or an upside-down baking sheet. Slide the calzones and the parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone or the bottom of the cast-iron skillets. Bake until the calzones are golden brown, about 11 minutes. (You’ll probably need to bake the calzones in batches.)
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.
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.


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