Being both Italian and a New Yorker, pizza is serious business for me. I’ve always been picky about my pizza with a just a few favorite places to get it. Just as important, not every place made perfect calzones. If you’ve never had one, a calzone is an Italian dish that originated in Naples. It’s like a folded stuffed pizza that’s baked in the oven. Smaller calzones, also called panzarotti, can be fried or baked. The perfect calzone should be crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and filled with delicious ingredients. Since becoming vegan, I had to learn to make my own calzones and I still have the same strict standards as when I bought them. Here’s how to make vegan calzones that taste like you bought them from the neighborhood pizzeria.

1. The Dough

The Best Homemade Vegan Wholemeal Pizza Dough

Calzones are usually made with pizza dough. When I make calzones, I either make traditional pizza dough with flour and yeast or a gluten-free version. I always flavor the dough with a bit of garlic, oregano, and salt. You can certainly buy pre-made pizza dough but when you make your own, you get to choose the ingredients. You can make a traditional crust with white flour like in this BBQ Eggplant Pizza or a whole-wheat crust like this Wholemeal Pizza Dough. If you’re gluten-free, you have lots of choices. Check out these Gluten-Free, Veggie-Based Pizza Crusts You Need To Try. Even the yeast is optional; see How to Make a Yeast-Free Pizza Crust for a dough that’s faster, lighter, and easier.

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Whichever recipe you make, once it’s ready, separate the dough into 6 equal round pieces and let them rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle flour on a work surface. Roll each ball of dough into a circle for each calzone. Each circle should only be about 1/8-inch thick. While your dough is rising and/or resting, you can make the filling.

2. Meaty Fillings

Homemade Chorizo Crumble

The filling for your calzone is where you can be as traditional or as creative as you want. Calzones are traditionally stuffed with meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Pepperoni and sausage are common ingredients as are spinach and other veggies. For your homemade calzone, you can make it meaty without the meat. Slice up these Homemade Vegan Spicy Italian Sausages, Homemade Andouille Sausages, or Smoky Black Bean Sausages. Learn How to Make Your Own Meaty Plant-Based Sausage or buy one of the delicious vegan brands available. You can also use vegan beefy crumbles or vegan chicken substitutes. Try this Cauliflower and Walnut Ground ‘Meat’, Soy-Free Meat Crumbles, or this Homemade Chorizo Crumble.

3. Veggie Fillings

Pesto Pizza

Anything you can put on top of a pizza, you can put inside a calzone. Get some ideas from these 15 Incredible Homemade Pizzas with Veggie Toppings. If you love cauliflower, use the toppings from this Spiced Cauliflower, Dried Plum and Caramelized Onion Flatbread Pizza or this Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza with Blue Cheese Spread. Go veggie-crazy by using the toppings of The Perfect Vegetable Pesto Pizza, Broccoli Rabe Potato Pizza witih Carrot Miso Sauce and Hazelnuts, Mexican Pizza, Spring Greens Pizza or this BBQ Eggplant Pizza.

One of my favorite calzone fillings is a combination of caramelized onions, Kalamata olives, spinach, and vegan cheese. Similarly, my Puttanesca Panzarotti have a salty blend of spinach, vegan cheese, capers, olives, and homemade tomato sauce. You can take any dish you love and stuff it into a calzone. Turn this Baked Ziti Pizza or this Ratatouille Pizza into a calzone. If you’re a big hummus fan, you’ll want to try this Hummus and Veggie-Stuffed Calzone.

4. The Cheese

Grateable Almond Cheese

Traditionally, calzones have mozzarella, ricotta, and parmesan. We certainly have lots of choices when it comes to vegan cheese. You can buy vegan cheese; see Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands or you can make your own like these 20 Amazing Cheeses You Can Make at Home. For mozzarella, try this Moxarella Cheese and the cheese on this Margherita Pizza with Fresh Basil and Mozzarella or this Caprese Ciabatta Pizza.

For a dairy-free ricotta, try this Sun-Dried Tomato, Basil and Kalamata Olive ‘Ricotta’ Spread or this simple Tofu Ricotta. Other cheeses to try include this Grate-able Almond Cheese, Polenta Pizza with Herbed Cashew Ricotta, Gluten-Free Crust with Nut-Free Cheese, and Holy Three Cheese Pizza.  Even better, use a combination of cheeses for your calzone. Another favorite calzone I make has spinach, tofu ricotta, and vegan mozzarella.

5. The Sauce

Ssam Sauce

Depending on the filling you choose, you may want some sauce inside your calzone but don’t use a lot or it will make the dough soggy. You definitely will want sauce for dipping. Don’t even think about using jar sauce with your beautiful homemade calzones. Learn How to Make Thick Vegan Pizza Sauce, How to Make Fresh Marinara Sauce, and this Twenty-Minute Homestyle Marinara. You can also use other Variations on Sauce like Bolognese, Alfredo, or this Cheesy Kabocha Squash Pizza Sauce.

Not sticking to Italian? Then try this Life-Changing Cheese Sauce, 3-Ingredient Ssam Sauce, Hummus Sauce, Creamy Lime Dipping Sauce, or Peanut Dipping Sauce. It’s your calzone, you can do whatever you like.

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6. Making the Calzones

panzarotti--1066x800

Now that you have chosen your dough, fillings, cheeses, and sauces, it’s time to make the calzones. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can use a pizza stone. You want the calzones to be crisp. For each calzone, lay a circle of dough on the baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and wet the perimeter of the dough. On one half of the circle, place your fillings. Be generous, no one likes a skimpy calzone. These aren’t ravioli; you should only leave a bit of space around the edges. You will stretch the dough to fold it over the filling. Press the edges of the dough together to form a semi-circle. Use a fork and press the tines into the dough along the edge to seal the calzone. Repeat with the remaining circles of dough.

Cut a few slits in the top of the calzones, spray the tops with cooking oil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the calzones are golden brown and sound hollow when you tap them. Cut the calzones in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Follow these tips and you’ll be making calzones just as good, if not better, than the ones at the local pizza place. What’s your favorite calzone filling? Tell us in the comments.

Lead image source: Hummus and Veggie-Stuffed Calzone

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