Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cheesy Sweet Potato 'Bacon' Calzones

We invited our friends over for dinner on Labor Day, but when I did the grocery shopping on Friday, I hadn't planned for anything fancy, so I had to get creative. Sometimes it can be foolish to experiment with new recipes when you are having guests, since the results do have the potential to be inedible, but I had to take the chance and dream up some calzones (calzoni?).  Our friends said they were delicious, and it must be trues since there was only one left over. While I was munching on it for lunch the next day, Abiline grabbed it from me and finished it off.  It's like she was lying in wait for me to eat enough of it so that it could be small enough for her to hold. But I was so thrilled she liked it that I didn't mind my lunch being pilfered.

The directions look really involved, but the recipe really didn't take that long overall--the dough instructions just makes it seem complicated.  

For the dough I just adapted the recipe for basic pizza crust in the revised version of Feeding the Whole Family.
 2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
2 c. lukewarm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
4-5 cups white whole wheat flour

For the filling:
2 lb. sweet potatoes, chopped into 1/2 in. pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for oiling the pan
2 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
2 Tbsp. liquid coconut aminos, or soy sauce if you don't have a soy allergy
2 Tbsp. coconut manna/butter
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 c. white beans, or one can, drained
3 pieces seitan bacon, or tempeh bacon if you don't have a soy allergy
1 1/2-2 c. shredded Diaya vegan mozzarella  

For kale "parmesan" sprinkles:
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. shelled pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds 

For the creamy tomato sauce:
3 Tbsp. coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
1/2 c. plain non-dairy milk (I used oat milk)
1 c. marinara**

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water and stir in the yeast. Let stand 5-10 mins., until the yeast bubbles up and shows signs of life.
2. Add the salt, olive oil, and 2 cups of flour and mix together. keep adding flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is solid enough to knead, but still pliable. At this point, I use  the dough hook on Kitchenaid stand mixer to knead the dough for 5-7 minutes until smooth and supple, adding flour 1 tbsp at a time as necessary if it is getting too sticky. You could also knead by hand for 8-10 mins.
3. Pour about 1 tsp. oil in a large bowl, form the dough into a ball, place it in the bowl, and turn the ball to coat in the oil. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and place in a warm spot to rise for 1-2 hours, until doubled in bulk and a wet finger poked into the middle leaves an impression without the dough filling back in. (I put my dough on top of the oven while I was making the calzone filling, and that was plenty warm.)
4.  Make the calzone filling while the dough rises. Preheat the oven to 350 and liberally oil a large baking dish. I used my 11 x 18 in Pyrex. Place the diced sweet potatoes in the baking pan; in a small bowl combine the tahini, marmalade, coconut butter, coconut aminos, pepper, and onion powder until well blended (if necessary heat in the microwave for a minute to soften the coconut butter) and then pour over the potatoes. Stir to thoroughly coat all the pieces, cover with foil, and bake in the oven for 45-60 mins, until the potatoes are very soft and falling apart when poked with a fork.
 5. About halfway through the sweet potato cooking time, combine the kale, olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a large baking sheet covered in parchment paper and place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes, until the kale is crispy and just starting to brown. Place the kale, nutritional yeast, and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and pulse until you get a parmesan-like consistency.
6. Once out of the oven, scoop the roasted sweet potatoes into a large mixing bowl, and add the beans, crumbled seitan bacon, and kale parmesan. Mash it all together with a potato masher, leaving it a bit chunky.
6. Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small saucepan and heating over medium heat, stirring frequently until it thickens.
7. Once the dough has risen enough (see finger-poke test above), gently deflate the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, and use a wet knife to cut it into 8 roughly equal pieces.  Form each piece into a ball and cover with the damp towel to rest for about 10 mins, until the sides of the dough start to sag. While the dough rests, preheat the oven to 450 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Take one dough ball at a time, place it on the parchment paper, and use damp fingertips to spread it out into a circle, about 5-6 in. in diameter. Spread about 2 Tbsp. sauce on the dough, top with a bit of Daiya vegan cheese, and then place  about 1/4-1/3 cup of the filling on one side of the circle, fold the other side over the filling, and crimp the edges together. Repeat with the remaining dough balls. You should be able to fit 4 calzones on each baking tray. Place the trays in the preheated oven for 6 mins, and then switch the trays so that the one one the bottom goes on the top rack and vice versa, and then bake for 6 mins. more. Let cool for a good 15 mins. before serving, as the filling is quite hot.

**The calzone recipe is already involved enough, but if you prefer to make your own marinara like I do because it's cheaper and tastier, here is my recipe. I make huge batches of this and keep it in the freezer.

Hearty Marinara
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, preferably) or 4 lbs fresh tomatoes
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. unrefined sugar
1 tsp. agave nectar
1 tsp. dried basil
¼-1/2 tsp. salt, to taste
Dash of pepper
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  1. If using fresh tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to boil and drop tomatoes in to boil for 30 seconds. Drain and place tomatoes in cold water for a few minutes. Once cool, peel off skins, squeeze out seeds, and coarsely chop.
  2. Place tomatoes in food processor and pulse until mostly smooth.
  3. Place tomatoes, olive oil, sugar, agave, basil, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in a large pot and bring to a boil over med. heat. Lower heat as low as it will go and simmer for about 30, until sauce has reduced. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.


  1. My husband made this tonight and we loved it! Kale sprinkles are great. Our 1 year old had the filling with extra kale and enjoyed it too. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I am so glad your family liked them! There is much rejoicing in our house on calzone night :o)