this past week, my sister came to visit with her boyfriend from Brooklyn, New York. my heart feels complete when they are here and the whole Family is together! we had a lot of great food, fancy bourbon, late nights, beach trips, and showing Luis around Oregon for the first time was so great. he got excited about all the small-town, usual-to-us things, such as — buying a western shirt with pearl snaps from the local Walmart. (he received sincere approval of this shirt from my grandpa, a life-time farmer. NICE.)
spending time with all my siblings made me so grateful for each of them, as work, geography, life pulls us in different directions. they are deeply creative, empathetic, affable people. siblings are like… having a best friend you’ve known your whole life, but one who still loves you anyway. highlight: sibling beer pong in the dark at my parents’ house with the Black Keys, Tom Petty and mosquito bites in the background.
my visiting sister Celeste is an amazing cook, so we ate really well with her expertise coming from the kitchen.. she baked a mile-high mud pie, grilled lemongrass chicken with an herb and vegetable salad, amazing pork burgers…. i also cooked a big brunch for all of us at our tiny apartment.
brunch was followed by a trip through our local Saturday Farmer’s Market, picking up fresh flowers and supplies for the big party on Sunday…
we siblings and our significant others threw a backyard barbeque –complete with a keg and a western swing band — in honor of our parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. it was a beautiful summer evening on my parents’ farm!
we tried a new (to us) restaurant on our visit to Pacific City — Ben and Jeff’s Burgers and Tacos. fantastic fish and chips, cold beer, tasty burgers, and i had grilled fish tacos with tons of fresh cilantro and pineapple. the restaurant had a resident dog who chilled out by our table. loved the surf shop next door, too!
i didn’t cook very often at home during this little staycation, but here’s a winning dinner i can always pull together quickly, even on a super-warm day (today is supposed to top 100 — rare for Oregon, and not too fun. our downstairs AC went out last night! phooey). vegetarian pizza pockets!
growing up, we always called calzones Pizza Pockets. i was obsessed with them. Mom’s declaration of Pizza Pockets for dinner would have me running into the kitchen and sliding across the floor on my socks, getting in the way and hoping they would be done baking NOWWW. just like pizza, but more fun, somehow! a pillow of crusty dough with all my favorite pizza toppings inside. total winner.
after some practice and some tweaks, i turned out some tasty Pizza Pockets from the grill. melty cheese, colorful spinach and peppers — oh, glorious pizza incarnations that i can devour even on the hottest day of the summer! you should try these! grilled calzones have a wonderful smokey flavor and crispness, that definitely-summer flavor that can only come from the grill. we did these vegetarian-style, but fill them with any pizza toppings you love. i prepped my ingredients in the morning before it got too hot, and later on, dinner was ready in about 15 minutes. hurray!
i wanted to put a Pizza Pocket in my pocket for later. they were too large for that, though.
grilled calzones with spinach and peppersmakes 4 pockets a common drawback with calzones is that they can be kind of overly juicy from the ingredients almost steaming inside their crusty-dough wrap. slicing a couple of steam vents in the tops before baking/grilling really helps. i also used tomato paste instead of tomato sauce, to cut down on moisture. and really squeeze that spinach dry!
- 1 lb pizza dough, your favorite homemade recipe, or store-bought
- 1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed of excess moisture
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped or thinly sliced
- 1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- coarse salt and ground pepper
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste (i mixed mine with a little chopped basil)
- grated mozerella cheese, or a cheese blend of your preference (you know, something you get excited about)
divide your dough into 4 equal portions and let rest under plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel while you prep your other ingredients (this helps each portion be more friendly about stretching out later).
get your squeezed-dry spinach in a bowl, and set aside. heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet and cook the garlic until fragrant and juuuust beginning to brown. pour all of that into the spinach bowl. heat last tablespoon olive oil and add bell peppers and onions, and sautee for about five minutes. set into a colander to drain any excess moisture. add to spinach bowl, season with salt and pepper, and combine.
stretch each dough portion into a circle 6- or 7-inches wide and top one half of the circle, avoiding edges, with a tablespoon each of the tomato paste. evenly divide spinach mixture and some grated cheese on top of that, and gently fold over and crimp edges of dough. slice two or three steam vents in tops with a sharp knife.
for grilling, i found that a pizza stone worked beautifully. we let it heat up for about 10 minutes and then put all four calzones on a cornmeal-sprinkled piece of tinfoil for easy transportation. slide the calzones onto the hot stone from the back of a cookie sheet. ps, by pizza stone, i mean a 12-inch, unvarnished floor tile from Home Depot that will set you back about $1.79 — don’t spend $40 on a pizza stone, ya really dont need to. when the calzones are on the stone, close the grill lid quickly and let them cook until crisp on the bottom and browned on top — some bubbly goodness should appear from the steam vents.
or bake as you like in your oven.