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A calzone is an Italian dish which originates from Naples, although calzones have become quite popular all over Italy and in many other parts of the word. Essentially, a calzone is like a stuffed pizza or turnover, made with an outer crust of pizza dough and an inner filling that typically includes an assortment of cheeses, meats, and vegetables. The pillowy savory pastries can be found packed in lunch boxes, being eaten from the hands at a street corner, and served at many Italian restaurants.
The process to make a calzone starts with with pizza dough, which traditionally is made with yeast, water, flour, salt, and olive oil. The yeast is proofed in warm water before the other ingredients are added and mixed until the dough is slightly sticky. The cook kneads the dough on a floured board before placing it in a warm place covered with a moist towel to rise. When the dough has doubled in size, it is punched down and allowed to rise again before being formed into the desired round shape, which can be used for calzones or for pizza.
The filling is scooped onto one half of the dough round, which is folded over and crimped to make a tight seal. The calzone can vary widely in size from a single serving to a monster calzone meant to be split among several people. Typically, the calzone will be baked, but smaller calzones are sometimes deep-fried. The calzone is served hot, and cautious diners usually open it up to vent for a few minutes before trying to eat it. Traditional calzones are served with a side of sauce, but some restaurants bake the sauce inside to make it a self contained package.
Fillings for calzones vary depending on taste and region. In general, a calzone is hearty fare, and meant to be a substantial meal. Most fillings start with a mixture of cheeses including Parmesan, ricotta, and mozzarella, with various parts of Italy adding regional specialties such as Romano. Next, chopped cooked meats are added, along with vegetables like onions, garlic, spinach, tomatoes, and others. An entirely vegetarian calzone may be made with a rich vegetable mixture or the addition of tofu. Spices and herbs added typically include oregano, pepper, nutmeg, basil, marjoram, fennel, parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary. If the calzone is being cooked with a sauce, it will be mixed with the filling before the filling is scooped onto the dough.