Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Strawberry-Rhubarb Calzones

sr calzone white close again

Last summer I shared a story about a red-eye that Jeff and I took from Los Angeles to Boston. I never slept a wink on the entire 2,760 mile journey thanks to the two meatballs behind me who yapped for five hours straight about sports.

Fortunately, I was on Jet Blue, so I watched The Food Network. Nigella Lawson's smooth, calming voice at 2 am was just what I needed. Of course a batch of her fluffy ricotta hotcakes would have been nice too, but I did make them as soon as we returned home.

After Nigella, I watched Michael Chiarello’s show for the first time. He was hosting a summer outdoor party and made – are you ready for this?—strawberry-rhubarb calzones! Now you know that I love calzones and strawberries and rhubarb, so even at 2:30 am, I was pretty excited.

sr calzone whole

After making these calzones for the last two weekends (I had to double-check the measurements), I must say they are brilliant.

They're made from traditional pizza dough that is topped with an egg wash and sprinkled with crystal sugar and savory anise seeds, giving it the flavor and texture of a sweet dough. Each bite reveals a warm, gooey, irresistibly sweet-tart filling. This calzone has it all.

I have adapted Michael's recipe below. Adding cornstarch helps thicken the fruit filling and makes it easier to stuff the calzones. You will likely have some leftover filling, which is a good thing--enjoy it in smoothies, on toast, or swirled into your morning oatmeal.

sr calzone plate and fork

Strawberry-Rhubarb Calzones
Makes 4 calzones
Print recipe only here.

1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water
1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb, sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups)
1 1/2 pints fresh strawberries, roughly chopped (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds store bought pizza dough or Food Blogga's basic pizza dough (it's fool proof!)
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
2 teaspoons anise seed
1 egg with a couple drops of water, lightly beaten, for egg wash

Add all filling ingredients (except strawberries) to a medium sauce pot and bring to a boil. (Rhubarb releases a lot of water when it cooks, so no liquid is necessary.) Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Then add strawberries and simmer another 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, so the filling has time to thicken.

The filling should have a thick, slightly jam-like consistency. If you find it's too watery, then simply strain it before adding it to the calzones. (But don't throw that sauce away! It's delicious.) A too-wet filling will make the calzone crust soggy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

When the dough is ready, divide it in half, then cut each half into 2 pieces for a total of 4 calzones. Working on a lightly floured surface, roll one piece into a 8-10-inch oval. Sprinkle with half of the anise seed and sugar crystals and lightly roll them into the dough. Flip the dough over (sugar side down) and place about 1/2-3/4 of a cup of the strawberry rhubarb mixture a bit above the center of the oval (avoid over-stuffing the calzones, as the fruit mixture with leak out). 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 the top and sides with the egg wash, sprinkle with remaining half of sugar and anise, and pierce the top a couple of times with a fork.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bottom is crisp. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing. Eat warm or at room temperature.

Other delicious strawberry-rhubarb dishes that are tempting me:

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