Thursday, October 25, 2007

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

Save This Page on