I have been asked by one of the clients of Coventry Regional Farmers Market to post this recipe, after mentioning it on their Facebook page. Coventry Regional Farmers Market is the premier farmers market in the state of Connecticut. It has been rated number one by Yankee Magazine and received a free barn last year. This year it is in hot pursuit to win a tourism award.
Although today I created more of a calzone, you can create any shape and size you want for this bread. It uses ready made pizza crust, which makes this bread relatively quick to make. This is just one combination. You can create any kind you like. It is worth experimenting with various herbs, cheeses, and vegetables. Got too much eggplant? Create a filled bread with eggplant, mushrooms, and feta cheese. You could even add a meat to it, such as lamb, to create a meat roll. You can try whole wheat pizza crust, or gluten free if you have problems with wheat. This lends itself to a lot of creativity and can lead to a very exciting session in anybody's kitchen.
Always at this time of year, in Connecticut at least, we have far too many tomatoes and basil, and become a bit crazed at trying to use all those tomatoes and basil. So this bread can be made in large amounts, then frozen for future use.
So far this year I have made a broccoli/ cheese combination and now the tomato. Next week I think I will be experimenting with swiss chard and eggplant. I have been pleased with the Rosita eggplant I bought in the spring from Topmost Herb Farm in Coventry, CT. I bought several items from Carole. All have done well, including the heirloom tomatoes I purchased from her. Carole, and her Topmost booth, can be found every week at the Coventry Farmers Market. Coming up this Sunday, Aug. 19, the market will be highlighting all those heirloom varieties that we have all grown to love here in the east.
Now, let's get to the recipe.
1 pound of ready made pizza crust (I use mostly Big Y)
2 or 3 Heirloom tomatoes
Wayne's Organic Garlic - 1 or 2 cloves, minced fine
Topmost fresh basil - about 1/3 cup, chopped
32 oz container part skim ricotta cheese
16 oz block of part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. I use Pam olive oil spray.
Chop tomatoes and put in colander to drain. Chop fresh basil leaves to make about 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Mince garlic fine. Grate the mozzarella cheese. I usually only need about half of the block, but if I am making a few more than one recipe, I will need it all. Keep all items in your workspace.
Heat pizza crust dough , in its package, in the microwave for about 20 seconds. This warms the dough. If it still seems cold on one side, heat again for another 10 to 20 seconds. Leave in package.
Open the package and take out about 1/3 of the dough for the calzone bread, and about half if you want to make a longer loaf. Close package up to keep dough from getting hard.
With a really small amount of flour on your surface, first squeeze dough between hands to flatten a little, then using both hands begin to work just the edge of the dough to thin out.
Place on your work surface and this is the hard part, begin to flatten the dough without stretching it or breaking it as you work it. Now you don't want alot of flour, just enough to make cleaning a little easier later on. The dough needs to stick to the surface so it won't spring back. That is why you need to warm it, becausse otherwise the dough will constantly go back to the ball. I use first a pounding motion from the center, to thin out the dough toward the edge, then I use a pounding along the edge, and a slicing motion. You will figure it out as you work with the dough. I like my dough a little thin, because it will raise when baked, and if you have it too thick you will end up with all dough and very little filling.
Pound with palm from center out Slice edge with side of hand to thin.
You keep on doing the pounding, then the slicing until you have it big enough to fill. With the bread, your dough should be more rectangular in shape. With the calzone type, a circle is good. Always fill it on the widest edge, because you can always stretch the dough across it later. My circle for the calzone is about 8 inches.
To fill, first put on some of the grated mozzarella cheese.
Then add some minced garlic and some basil. This is all up to your preference. I like lots of garlic and basil, but some might like less.
Add some chopped tomato and a little bit of olive oil. Just a few drips will do.
Next put a few spoons of ricotta cheese on top of the tomatoes, then add a little more mozzarella cheese on top of that.
When making the calzone style, just fold the unfilled half over the filled half and pinch the edges. When making the bread, you should place your filling down the middle, then fold over each side over the filling. Always make sure you leave about an inch or so on the top and bottom edge of the dough, and the same for the bread, so when you fold you can still pinch it tight on the long ends.
Now comes the really tricky part, peeling your finished bread off of the work surface. I find rocking it back and forth helps, but you still might find that you need to lift it off with a spatula. This is where you may tear the bread, especially on the bottom. It takes practice, but you will eventually be able to peel it off successfully. If you do break the crust, you can always try to add extra dough to cover it up. I just did one where the entire bottom broke apart, so I flipped it over so the bottom was facing up, I put extra dough over the filling, and when it was baked I ended up with a delicious looking bread that had the filling peeking out of the baked crust. It does not matter if it breaks, only if you intend to freeze it. It tastes good even if the loaf does not come out perfectly.
Bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes till crust is nicely browned.
You should be able to put two loaves on a baking sheet if using half of the crust per loaf, and about 3 if you make the calzone style. Have fun experimenting, and don't ever give up because it isn't perfect the first time. I have been trying to work with pizza crust for 8 years, and my brother finally showed me how to get around my problems this year, so now I am good to go, and you will be too.