Awww, spaghetti and meatballs, what a comforting food! What a fun food-just watch a child eat it for the first time! How do you enjoy eating yours? Are you a twirler? A slurper? A cutter?
Remember singing the song as a child, “On Top of Spaghetti”? I think that song gave me some clues as a child my love for food. I didn’t like the fact that “I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed” and that “it rolled off the table, and on to the floor”. I know it has a happy ending growing into a tree with meatballs and tomato sauce, but that was a year later! I am an in the moment foodie! If you do not remember that song as an ode to spaghetti then certainly you can remember the most iconic spaghetti and meatball scene ever in The Lady and the Tramp. I am posting the clip to remind you. Yes, it is five minutes long, five minutes in your busy day, five minutes that you may be able to check something off your to do list. I think however, that sometimes we just have to stop and smell the spaghetti sauce, I mean roses, oh, you know what I mean. I guarantee it is a wonderful feel good, make you feel like a kid again five minutes-you’ll want to feel like a kid again once you realize the movie classic is from 1955! (What is that you mumbled? O.k. I used to be a workaholic, too. If you must fast forward to the 3 minute mark and watch for 15 seconds do so, but you will miss the romance!!)
Now, don’t you feel better than you did five minutes ago (or 15 seconds ago for you workaholics) besides maybe the fact that you are now craving spaghetti and meatballs. Spaghetti and meatballs are meant to be shared. Ever notice that it is impossible to make a small batch of spaghetti and meatballs? Which is wonderful, it is one of those leftovers that are better the next day, and the third day…by the forth day, your family may be saying spaghetti AGAIN? Here’s where we get started:
Spaghetti and Meatball Calzones:
First when storing your spaghetti and meatball leftovers, try to keep your pasta stored separate. Just rinse it and drizzle a little olive oil on it and store in a ziploc bag or sealed container, then just drop it in a pot of boiling water for half a minute when you need it (simple restaurant trick). You can also freeze them the same way, just lay flat in freezer and increase boiling time to one minute. When making pasta, I usually make some extra and freeze small portions-great for a last minute side dish.
Calzones are a really simple and easy idea for just about any leftovers you may have and a good one to keep in the back of your mind.
Remove the meatballs from the sauce and roughly chop along with some of the spaghetti and put them in a mixing bowl. (No need to heat either) I add in some ricotta cheese (even if you think you don’t like it, try it, it blends and flavors nicely). The amount you add is your preference and depends on how much leftovers you have left. Now is a good time to add some vegetables (may not want your kids to see you doing it!). Use what you have, I have some steamed spinach leftover, so I add it.
Broccoli and asparagus are good, too. A calzone is basically a folded pizza, so think along those lines and add whatever you may like. It is your calzone! If I had some kalamata olives I would add them, but I usually eat them all before I get to that point! Eyeball and taste your mixture as you go (it is best to use all cooked ingredients) and I bet your meatballs are full of flavor already so careful adding too much seasoning. I love cheese so I add some shredded Italian cheese, as well. I then add some sauce, mixing in a teaspoon at a time, keeping filling hearty, not too much sauce-besides we’ll need the sauce later!
Get your favorite pizza dough ready to roll, check your local markets, most carry dough ready to go. (Or use the refrigerated roll out pizza dough, they make whole wheat now and when we’re done, nobody will ever know) If I have time I still love the whole process of making my own pizza dough. (If you have never done it, it is a fun family event!) But today, it is the “nobody will ever know if you and I don’t tell them approach”!
I recommend putting wax paper down on your counter for a quick work space or on top of a large cutting board. Roll out your dough evenly, a rectangle works best (or something closely resembling a rectangle, you know how dough can be!) Decide what size calzones you want to make, appetizer size, entree size? Then cut your dough into equal segments. Pile some fabulous filling on one half of segment. Fold over. Crimp edges with a fork. They don’t have to be perfect-they’re homemade! Try to work quickly and efficiently, the warmer the dough gets, the harder your job will be! FILL-FOLD-SEAL
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Add some cornmeal to a sheet pan and spread around. This will help keep your calzones from sticking and will also give it a nice crunch on the bottom-just like in restaurants! Put your calzones on the sheet pan. See how many you can make with only 3 meatballs-talk about stretching out leftovers! Bake until golden brown (This will depend on the size calzones you created) but keep an eye on them! They cook quickly which is why you should use cooked ingredients. I usually start with ten minutes and check through oven door each following minute. I’ve never had a batch take longer than 15 minutes! Some like to brush with olive oil (or egg) before cooking, but I like to do it at the end-gives something for my grated Parmesan cheese to stick to-see I love cheese! If you have some flavored olive oil, use it to add another flavor dimension. I happen to have my roasted pepper skins olive oil ready to go with some help from my little friend!
That’s it. Calzones done. Put some spaghetti sauce in a ramekin and heat in microwave-tasty for dipping. Round out the meal with a salad and dress the table with a checkered tablecloth, listen to “That’s Amore” (or even better watch the whole Lady and the Tramp movie) and I bet you won’t hear the words spaghetti AGAIN!
Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: Think about what other leftovers you may have that would work as a calzone filling? Beef stew is a hearty one for a cold winter day-just make it the same way- filling it with good stuff and serving the “gravy” on the side. Calzones can also be sweet and savory, think about it as a turnover. So don’t just think about lunch or dinner-what about breakfast or dessert? Think about the different sauces and toppings, too. What else would work? For instance, use melted butter and cinnamon in place of the olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Once again the possibilities are endless.
FOOD FUN: Calzone is an Italian word for “stocking” or “trouser”. It has also been referred to as “pants legs” for “walking around”-the fact that they are hand held, easy to carry and eat. They also hold the heat in well. It is that time of year where it seems the pace of life gets quicker and the days get shorter. Plan ahead. Take a family fun night to make some calzones-(like a pizza night). Make a few different kinds, cook them, let cool, wrap separately, label each one and freeze them in a ziploc bag. When in a pinch or running out the door, grab, heat in microwave (2-3 minutes), wrap in foil and go. Don’t forget the napkins!