Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pear and gorgonzola or beet and sage-pesto mini calzones

The first time you try something new, if you do not like it, promise yourself you will try it one more time. This is a simple rule I always live by. There are countless things that, the first time I tried to eat or make it, I decided it was something I just did not like. Take blue cheese for example. Blue cheese is scary. It's cheese and it has blue mold in it. If you jump right into the strong stuff, without knowing what to expect, it is pretty easy to get scared away.

Back when I started experimenting with cooking, I tried to make a pasta recipe with gorgonzola and broccoli. I could not find gorgonzola at the store so I bought a different blue cheese. I do not remember much about how it turned out except that I did not like it and did not touch blue cheese again for the next five years. In fact, I forgot that gorgonzola was a type of blue cheese.

Unknowingly, I recently ate a gorgonzola and squash pizza at Trattoria here in Vancouver. I could not believe how incredible that pizza tasted and did not realize, until after the meal, that gorgonzola was blue cheese.

Now that my anti-blue cheese spell has been broken, I am obsessed. I recently posted my golden beet and gorgonzola salad which I have made several times since that first salad. I thought of also making an eggs benedict with pear and gorgonzola but instead decided now was a good opportunity to try my hand at calzone making.

My original intent was to make these for a pot luck (although Mike and I ate them all instead). In my mind I pictured perfect snack-sized calzones. I wanted them to be golden, crispy and upon biting into them I wanted them to ooze gorgonzola and sweet pear.

To be honest, these did not turn out as perfectly as I would have liked. I did not have enough stuffing, I wish the dough had turned out a little more...puffy, and I think brushing them with some whisked egg would have added a crispyness to the crust. I still maintain that they would be a great pot luck dish and next time I have a food gathering to attend I vow to make these again.

Sometimes I find that even if it seems like you make something the same way twice, it will taste completely different both times. It may have something to do with the ingredients you buy, how long they sit around before you use them, how tired you are when you cook, how hungry you are when you eat, how rushed you are when you are making food. Sometimes, the only thing that is missing to make a good recipe fantastic is...practice.

This time I tried a variety of stuffings: pear and gorgonzola; beet, shallot and goat cheese; fresh tomato, kalamata olive and goat cheese. I also made a sage, parsley and hazelnut pesto which I mixed and matched with the different ingredients. If you have leftover sage pesto, you can stay tuned for my next post on sweet potato gnocchi which happens to go perfectly with the sage pesto. I also added grated mozzarella to a subset of my calzones and deemed it essential for adding the important ooze-factor that I wanted in these little snacks.

Pear and gorgonzola or beet and sage pesto mini-calzones
Winter seasonal: pears, beets, sage, meyer lemon
If you have never made these before, be prepared, as I was, to waste some time and some dough on trying different folding, rolling and stuffing techniques. Also, I suggest making the pizza dough a day or two before making these. That way, it will be ready to go when you are. The most lengthy part of this recipe is rolling out the little rounds. To save some time you can cut squares out of larger sheets. Neatly and elegantly folding the edges also takes some time and practice.

Sage and hazelnut pesto (see below)
3 pears (red d'anjou for example) sliced thinly
2 tsp honey
Mild gorgonzola cheese
4 small golden beets, peeled and thinly sliced
2 shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, mashed
Soft goat cheese
Mozzarella cheese grated
1 beaten egg or extra virgin olive oil

Pesto Ingredients
1/4 cup sage
1/4 cup italian parsley
Small handful of roasted hazelnuts
Juice of 1 meyer lemon
Sea salt
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 - If you have not already, start by making your pizza dough. If it is pre-made and in the fridge, bring the dough to room temperature and allow to warm up for about 1 hour.
2 - Preheat oven to 350F with pizza stone in the middle of the oven.
3 - Toss pear slices in 1 tbsp of olive oil and honey. Spread out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cook about 15 minutes.
4 - Toss beet slices with crushed garlic, shallots, sea salt and olive oil. Roast until beets are tender about 20 - 30 minutes.
5 - Prepare pesto by blending the pesto ingredients in a food processor. Let stand in fridge or at room temperature.
6 - If making round calzones, divide dough into 16 portions and roll out each portion into a small circle. Alternatively, roll dough into 2 or 4 squares and then cut out smaller squares for about 16 squares total.
7 - Assemble calzones by spreading a tbsp of pesto on one half of the dough round, and top with beets, shallots and goat cheese or pears and gorgonzola. 
8 - Finish with shredded mozzarella cheese (a small handful).
9 - Fold over the dough and roll together the edges working with both hands, rolling up with your thumb and pushing down with your pointer finger. Working from one edge over to the opposite end.
10 - Lay calzones on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and brush with olive oil or beaten egg. Garnish with a light sprinkle of sea salt.
11 - Bake calzones in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the dough takes on a golden brown colour.


  1. Wow, those look amazing! I have to say that I also found (well, still find) blue cheese a little difficult to get into, but starting small really helped me start to enjoy it.

  2. Thank you :) The key here was the brand, castello I think. It is mild and creamy and not scary at all. I think anything stronger would be too much.