Winter is when we crave meals that come from the oven. When it’s cold and gray most of the time, baking something for dinner makes the kitchen warm and fragrant. We want a little comfort to get us through to spring.
For my money, few things are more comforting than a savory filing, wrapped in pillowy dough. What you need right now is a flavorful Cauliflower and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Calzone.
The calzone is usually like a pizza transformed into a turnover. Every culture has some kind of dough-wrapped savory, whether it’s the samosa of India, the empanada of Spain, Mexico and South America, or the pasty of the United Kingdom. We like a meal that is bundled in bread.
In this version, I piled on the vegetables. Soft, sautéed onions and cauliflower florets are braised in white wine to infuse them with flavor and make them meltingly tender. Instead of handfuls of mozzarella, a small portion of goat cheese or nondairy cream cheese gives the calzone some creaminess and holds all the veggies together.
For a flavor contrast, a quick sun-dried tomato pesto tops the cauliflower. The concentrated summery essence of the tomatoes is puréed with fresh parsley, garlic and olive oil, and delivers a punch of tangy-sweetness. Using dried tomatoes instead of canned or fresh is a neat trick to make a plant-based meal taste extra satisfying. If you feel like a splurge, you can use fresh basil instead of parsley, but the peppery parsley has its own charm.
The whole-wheat dough can be made by hand, or you can buy frozen whole-wheat-roll dough. This may become your go-to calzone and pizza dough, too. Texas-sized whole-wheat rolls are the perfect size for making into calzones, and they thaw in a snap. Pressed flat, they can be turned into teeny pizzas, if that’s what you crave.
If you can’t find the rolls, a standard frozen whole-wheat bread loaf is about a pound, and can be divided into eight portions of 2 ounces apiece.
If you thought a calzone had to be packed with meat and cheese, you should give this cauliflower-filled one a try. Save one to pack for lunch, too!
Robin Asbell is a cooking instructor and author of “Big Vegan” and “Plant-Based Meats.” Find her at robinasbell.com.