Friday, September 17, 2010

Caramelized Eggplant Calzone, Basil Marinara

After a short vacation to Southern California and a couple days back home to recoup and eat out, I finally had the urge to make dinner. Something quick(er) and hearty with tons of flavor.

Crusty calzones filled with caramelized eggplant, fresh basil, toasted walnuts, spinach, onions and creamy white beans served with basil marinara for dipping.

Eggplant Calzones
1 ball of fresh pizza dough
AP Flour for rolling out dough
6 tbl extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large eggplant, skin on, medium dice
2 tbl organic sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
8 basil leaves, torn
1c white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2c chopped toasted walnuts
2c fresh baby spinach
2c vegan mozzarella cheese

First you want to remove the dough from it's bag and let rest on the counter with a towel on top for 10 minutes. Once it has rested, divide it into 4 pieces and roll them out into circles. Your dough might want to shrink every time you try to roll it out! If that is the case, let it sit for 10 more minutes before trying again. This allows the gluten strands in the dough to relax and shrink back less. Roll out again into 4 circles and set aside.

In a large sauce pot, heat 2 tbl olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until they are soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the diced eggplant, 2 more tbl of oil and sugar and saute over medium high heat for 15 minutes. You want the eggplant to start to break down and get soft and caramelized. Add the salt and pepper, basil and white beans and saute 4 more minutes to warm the beans through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven to warm up.
If you put a hot sheet pan in the oven while it is heating up, this will allow the bottom of whatever you are baking to crisp and brown without having to turn it over during the baking process!

To assemble the calzones, lay a pile of baby spinach in the center, 1/4-1/2 cup of the eggplant mixture and a sprinkle of walnuts and cheese. Brush the edges of the dough with water and fold the dough over, creating a half moon. Pinch the seal together and use a fork to prick edges. Prick some holes in the top to allow steam to escape.

Pull out the pizza stone and place the calzones on top. Drizzle with remaining oil and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and when tapped, the dough sounds hollow. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Basil Marinara
1 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped small
2 tsp organic sugar
1 tbl tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 fresh basil leaves, torn
1- 15oz can crushed tomatoes

In a small stockpot heat oil and add the onion, cook until translucent and soft. Add sugar and tomato paste. Cook for a couple minutes. Add garlic, salt and pepper. Saute 2 more minutes. Add basil and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover and cook for 15 minutes. Puree sauce in a blender until smooth, return to heat and keep warm. Adjust seasonings.

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