Calzones… delicious, hot pizza pockets from Italy. Even though they take a bit of time to make, this recipe for vegan calzones with zucchini and tofu ricotta is easy to execute, hearty, and oh so tasty. I love to serve them with some marinara or pizza sauce on top. Total yum!
For this vegan calzones recipe, I made The Best Pizza Dough Recipe from the baking blog, Sugar Spun Run. Sugar Spun Run may not be a vegan blog, but the pizza dough recipe is vegan and it works beautifully for these calzones. I followed the recipe directions through the 6th step and used all-purpose flour (not bread flour). I liked the soft texture of the baked dough, and found that it yielded the perfect amount for this recipe. Our recipes combined yield 2 large calzones or 4 smaller ones.
The combination of herbs in the zucchini-tofu ricotta filling reminds me a bit of Italian sausage–fennel seed, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and a bit of rubbed sage. These are all robust herbs, and typically pack a flavorful punch. If you’ve had your dry herbs for over a year, they can lose some of their potency. So if this is the case for you, taste the zucchini calzones filling in the skillet before removing it from heat, and add more of each herb until it tastes right to you.
The vegan parmesan in this recipe is optional. It’s good with it, but it is also good without it. If it’s hard to find where you live, or it isn’t on hand, this recipe is still a keeper. If you use it, it adds an additional umami feature to the flavor, and that’s always a nice bonus! If you skip using it, just make sure to taste the zucchini-tofu ricotta filling before using, and consider adding a bit more salt, if it needs it.
Vegan Calzones with Zucchini and Tofu Ricotta
Pizza dough for one 12″ pizza (I used this recipe – see note above)
¼ cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil + 1 Tbsp of the oil from the jar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp rubbed sage
2 cups thinly sliced zucchini cut into half moons
¼-½ tsp whole fennel seeds
¼-½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp capers
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp vegan parmesan, optional (see note above)
Your favorite marinara sauce or pizza sauce, to top (I used Mezzetta Marinara, but you can also make your own marinara sauce from scratch)
1. Prepare the pizza dough. If you are using this recipe, follow the directions through the 6th step, and then, set the dough aside to rise.
2. Make a batch of tofu ricotta by following this recipe.
3. In a large skillet, add 1 Tbsp of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and the garlic. Over high heat, bring to a sizzle, and then, turn down to medium heat to prevent the garlic from burning or crisping. Add the rosemary and sage, and stir around for 30 seconds. You want to infuse the oil with the garlic and herbs, but not brown or burn anything.
4. Add the zucchini and a dash of salt. Stir the zucchini around over medium heat for about 2 minutes, and then, add the sliced sun-dried tomatoes, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper (to taste, but be generous). Stir around another 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in capers and the parsley. Taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed.
5. Add the zucchini mixture to the mixing bowl with the smashed tofu. If using vegan parmesan, add it, as well. Stir until well combined. Taste and make any adjustments, if needed (more salt? more lemon?). Set aside.
6. Preheat the oven to 425º F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
7. Divide the dough in half (if making 2 large calzones) or fourths (if making 4 small handheld calzones). Grab one of your pieces of dough and, using a rolling pin, roll it out into a circle, as best you can (see photo above). Admittedly, my circle is kind of a square, but it will work! 😉
8. If you are making 2 large calzones, spoon half the filling from the mixing bowl onto one side of your rolled out dough. If you are making 4 smaller calzones, spoon a fourth of the filling from the mixing bowl onto one side of your rolled out dough. (see photo above).
9. Fold the dough over the filling. Crimp the edges all the way around.
10. When you have finished crimping the edges all the way around, lift up the calzone, and place it on the sheet pan lined with parchment. Repeat steps 7-10 until all the uncooked calzones have been made.
11. Bake at 425º F for 15-22 minutes (depending on how large you make them). Keep an eye on them to make sure they turn golden, but do not burn. Remove from the oven, and serve topped with your favorite marinara or pizza sauce.