Now that we have used up all of our CSA produce (or at least the vast majority of it) we are on a mission to use up everything in our freezer. I periodically stock the freezer up until it's ridiculously full and then go to the other extreme and try to empty everything out. After awhile you start to forget just what you have in there. I know I do. The other day when I was trying to reorganize the freezer I realized that we had a ton of hanger steak and random cuts of pork in there, as well as a variety of sausages. Who knew? We also had a few balls of pizza dough. So I decided that at the very least we should use a ball of pizza dough and a hanger steak. When you start to find forgotten and buried treasures in the freezer (some of which are so freezer burned to no longer be treasures in any sense of the word) it is time to clean out the freezer and start over from scratch.
The inspiration for this recipe came from a recipe for Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita that I found on Epicurious. I liked the idea of turning cherry tomatoes into the sauce for the pizza, but I wanted to make calzones instead of pizza. We make pizza all the time, but we rarely make calzones. To be fair, the last time we made calzones we made one giant calzone and it exploded and oozed everywhere. Oops. So I was very careful sealing the calzones this time in order to prevent them from forming another oozing, soupy mess. And it worked! I know they're not exactly pretty to look at (and they didn't turn as golden as I wanted them to, but I was afraid to cook them any longer for fear that they would explode), but they were pretty yummy to eat. Actually, the calzones came out looking a lot like samosas... Oh well. My favorite thing about the calzones was definitely the fennel seeds in the tomato sauce. It gave the calzones a truly unique and delicious flavor. I also liked the addition of the crushed red pepper flakes. The sauce is very flavorful - fresh and sweet from the cherry tomatoes and basil. The sauce is so good that Alex and I were actually discussing using it with pasta in the future. I think it would work really well with pasta. And I would definitely use it with pizza. The sauce is so easy and flavorful that there is absolutely no reason to ever use canned pizza sauce or marinara sauce again. You could substitute the fennel seeds if fennel just isn't your thing, omit the crushed red pepper flakes, or try oregano instead of fresh basil. There are all sorts of ways you could adapt the basic recipe and make it work for you!
Recipe after the jump!
Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Calzones
1 ball pizza dough (ours was somewhere under a pound but it didn't say exactly how much it weighed)
1 tbsp evoo, plus additional for brushing the top of the calzones
12-oz. cherry tomatoes, stemmed
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
6 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced