January and February are especially fun months for bookkeepers. I’m currently immersed in the tedious but necessary task of closing out the previous year and getting everything perfect and clean for the dreaded tax return for our business. I won’t bore you with the details. You’re welcome. The bottom line is I have far less time to spend in the kitchen so I’m always looking for shortcuts.
One recent day while strolling down the frozen food aisle in the grocery store, I found myself looking at the loaves of frozen bread dough wondering what I might be able to do with it. I brought some home and put together this super delicious cheesy, pesto-y, yummy calzone.
I’ve always made calzone from scratch using my own homemade pizza crust so I thought I’d give it a whirl with frozen bread dough and good golly, Miss Molly, it worked perfectly! My local grocery store carries this Brigford Ready Dough. To feed my group I used the entire 3 loaf package.
Here’s the rundown for your shopping list - 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pesto, marinara sauce, goat cheese, a 3 loaf package of frozen bread dough, and shredded mozzarella cheese. Place the frozen bread dough in the fridge to thaw the night before you plan to make the calzone.
Coat the bottom of a large pan with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add the chicken that has been cut into bite size pieces. Cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
Add 3 heaping tablespoons of pesto and combine well.
Reduce heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer while you transform the first thawed bread loaf into calzone dough.
Place one loaf of thawed bread dough on to a floured board.
With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 15″ x 9″ rectangle. Pull and stretch the dough with your hands if needed to help relax the dough.
With a sharp knife make 11 or 12 cuts at edges of dough in towards the center, about 2″ in length. Make an equal number of cuts on each side. Leave at least a 3″ strip down the center for the filling.
Time for the filling. Pour about 1/3 cup marinara sauce down the center of the dough.
Top the marinara sauce with 1/3 of the chicken pesto mixture.
Crumble 1/3 of the goat cheese over the chicken pesto mixture. Pesto and goat cheese go together like peas and carrots, but in a far more pleasing way.
Sprinkle about 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese over the top.
Make a braid by folding the strips of dough over the filling in a criss cross pattern, alternating sides.
Left, right, left, right, until you reach the end.
Using a large spatula, carefully transfer the assembled calzone to a foil lined rimmed baking sheet. Assemble the remaining two calzone and place them on the baking sheet, leaving a small amount of space in between.
Brush the tops of the calzone with olive oil and in the oven they go. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
Pretty, aren’t they? Throw together an easy salad and open a bottle of wine. Yummy, homemade calzone fresh from the oven equals one very happy family.
You can use this method with any filling that tickles your fancy. Italian sausage, pepperoni, vegetarian, the possibilities are endless!
Easy Chicken Pesto Braided Calzone
Yield: 3 calzone
- Olive oil
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
- 3 heaping tablespoons pesto
- 1 (48 ounce) 3 loaf package of frozen bread dough, thawed overnight in refrigerator
- 1 cup marinara sauce
- 6 ounces goat cheese
- 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set aside for later. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil and put over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink. Add pesto and stir to combine. Turn heat down to low and let mixture simmer while preparing bread dough.
Place one of the thawed bread loaves on to a large floured board. Roll out with a rolling pin, pulling and stretching with hands if necessary, until it is a 15″ x 9″ rectangle. With a sharp knife make 11 or 12 cuts at edges of dough in towards center about 2″ in length. Leave at least a 3″ solid strip down center of dough for filling.
Remove chicken from heat and set aside.
Pour 1/3 cup of marinara sauce down center of prepared calzone dough. Place 1/3 of pesto chicken mixture on top of marinara. Crumble 1/3 of goat cheese over the chicken and then top with about 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella.
Fold strips of dough at edges over the filling in a criss cross pattern, alternating sides. Left, right, left, right, until you reach the end. Using a large spatula to help you lift the calzone, carefully transfer it to the foil lined baking sheet, leaving room for next 2 calzones. Repeat with other 2 loaves and place next to first calzone on baking sheet leaving a little space in between.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or till nice and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit about 5 minutes before slicing into serving size pieces.