Featured Ingredient: Tomatoes
For a large part of the year, fresh tomatoes lovers such as myself are left with little choice but to buy the fairly tasteless offerings from the megamart that are bread for the purpose of transport not juicy flavour. But now local options, in various guises, abound at markets that taste more like a tomato should – sweet and hazardously juicy.
Tomatoes are one of nature’s richest sources of lycopene. Lycopene, which gives tomatoes their rosy hue, is a carotenoid antioxidant credited with helping reduce the risk of several forms of cancer. For us guys, there is a lot of good research regarding its potential to help stave off prostate cancer.
For only about 25 calories, a medium tomato also provides a decent amount of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A.
Sometimes there is nothing better than biting into a warm calzone that oozes with gooey tomato sauce. A few recipes I have come across lately got me wondering if I could create a homemade version in the muffin tray. I’m happy to report, yes you can and with delicious results.
This recipe took some time only because I made the sauce and dough from scratch. To expedite things, you could use an easier filling such as chopped raw veggies and cheese. In fact, the possibility for fillings is endless. Store bought pizza dough would also slash prep time but there was something satisfying about making my own for the first time. I used a recipe from Eating Well magazine and it turned out to be much less of a high-flying kitchen feat than I thought it would be. There is enough dough to make about 10-12 calzones. I only used half the dough to make 6 and put the rest in the freezer for a future pizza. Here is some good instruction on how to properly knead dough.
For the filling, I used ground emu meat as we have a local source. You could really use any ground meat of your choice in the sauce including turkey, bison and pork. Or opt out of meat and make it vegetarian. There will be plenty of left over sauce so use it for pasta or freeze for future use.
Muffin Tin Calzones with Tomato Meat Sauce
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (105-115°F)
1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup bread or all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
Stir water, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl; let stand until the yeast has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stir in flours and cornmeal until the dough begins to come together. Place the dough on a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes. (I found that I needed to keep my hands well floured).
Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Makes about 1 pound of dough.
1 lb ground beef (preferably grass-fed) or game meat
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 medium tomatoes
1 5 oz can tomato paste
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
½ cup torn basil leaves
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin powder
¼-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium. Add ground meat, onion and garlic and cook until meat is browned, 5-6 minutes. In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes until smooth. Add pureed tomatoes, tomato paste, zucchini, mushrooms, basil, cumin, pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for about 30 minutes.
To make the mini calzones:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a muffin tin and set aside. Break off a little larger than golf ball sized pieces of the dough and press these out on a lightly floured surface into discs. (Again, I found I needed my hands to be floured as well). Place the discs inside the muffin cups and stretch out so the dough covers the sides and if possible out the tops as well.Place some shredded Mozzarella or white cheddar cheese on the bottom of the dough and top with a heaping spoonful of meat sauce. If desired, top meat sauce with more cheese.
Fold the dough over onto itself and seal. If there is not enough dough to cover the top, tear off some from the remaining dough ball, flatten and use it to cover the top of the muffin cups.
Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown. Some sauce and cheese may escape. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding.