Tofu & Vegetable Calzones

I know somewhere there’s an Italian person cringing at the thought of Tofu and Vegetables in a CALZONE!!! Sorry dude, my family can’t get enough of this stuff.

I started making this years ago during the height of my family’s vegetarianism. Though we are no longer vegetarians, I still cook like one for the most part. We eat only chicken, but I don’t even cook that at home very often. I usually save the Chicken for my Nigerian Stew (which is just not the same any other way) or for when I go out with friends. I only occasionally cook chicken, simply because I don’t like working with raw chicken. We do like our vegetables, and I actually LOVE tofu, as do my kids, so I use that often.

This has been a favorite in my household for years now. In my household it’s actually known as “Favorite Rolls” not Calzones. I just now got it to where it’s not quite so labor intensive and time-consuming as it once was. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s! Really good ingredients at really reasonable prices! I get the pizza dough from there for 99cents, and that shaves off a huge amount of prep. To think that I used to make pizza crust from scratch. Que’lle Horreur!

A little bit about tofu:
Don’t be scared! True, it doesn’t have a flavor/taste of its own, but that’s what makes it so good to work with. It will absorb whatever flavor you want it to. It is a literally a flavor sponge. Use whatever spices you want. In this recipe I use an italian spice blend.

This isn’t so much a recipe as a guideline. This isn’t like pastry baking, where everything has to be exact. Cooking is more forgiving. Use your own combination of fillings if you’d like. If you use everything in the pictures as I’ve used, you should end up with about at least 13 small calzones, depending on how filled each one is. If you have issues, leave a comment below, and I’ll help you out.

1. The aforementioned TJ Pizza crust. Awesomeness! Freezes really well. Even though this picture has one bag of dough, I use two bags. Make sure you put it in the fridge to thaw a day ahead if you freeze. On calzone day, I usually set it out on the counter with the bag open at least an hour ahead so that it can get to room temperature

2. Get your vegetables together. Everything I put into my filling is below. The only thing not pictured is the spice mix and salt. Everything is to your taste. I use italian spices.

3. Here are the veggies all chopped up. Make sure to crumble up the tofu into a colander. You want to drain out as much water as possible because the vegetables will also ooze water into your filling mix. A ‘too wet’ filling mix will make your calzone soggy, yuck.

4. I usually saute/pan fry the tofu first (with a little oil) until it gets a light brown crust on it. This is to further reduce the water content. Then I add the onions and garlic, saute a couple more minutes, then add the rest of the veggies and spices/salt. Another couple more minutes, then I add the Ragu spaghetti sauce and let the flavors marry for about 10-15 minutes, stirring the whole time.
This is what it looks like when it’s ready to go.

5. After the filling’s done, I let it cool down for a little while because if you fill while the filing is piping hot, you could make holes in your dough. For this reason, it’s a good idea (when possible to make the filling a little bit ahead of when you want to fill the dough.

I then spread out the dough onto a floured surface and roll w/a rolling pin. I use a pizza wheel (or knife) to cut the dough into eight pieces like below.

6. Lightly stretch out the dough (not too much, you don’t want it thin) and scoop some filling into each piece. Roll up and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper (or foil). Bake at 350deg, until lightly browned on top.

7. And Voila! Here it is, all ready to eat.

8. Here’s what the inside looks like if you break it apart. Yummy!

Favorite Tofu Rolls…

Tonight I made the kids’ favorite: tofu-rolls. I’m very big on one-dish type meals where you get your protein, carbs and veggies all at once, so this is one of my favorites. It also reminds me of the Pepperoni rolls of my youth (It’s a West Virginia thing, you wouldn’t understand). Since the hubster is a vegetarian, and I don’t like to cook 2 separate meals, meals like this work for me.
A word of caution, this is not ‘rolls a-la-semi-home-made’, so unless you’re deeply into homemaking or a rabid-foodie-cum control freak, this recipe is not for you.
I’ve cobbled together a recipe, but you really can use whatever combination of fillings you want in this. Here goes:
The crust: I used a recipe I once saw on Martha Stewart use on Martha Stewart living a few years ago (pre-insidertrading-gate) I found it on her site.

Makes about 2 dozen 2 1/2-inch rolls

  • 1/2 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
  • 1 quarter-ounce package dry yeast
  • 3 Tbsp tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 stick butter, plus more for baking sheet ( I use salted, your mileage may vary)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 1/2 C oat flour (I just blend rolled oats in a blender until it’s the consistency of flour)

Directions

  1. Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine. Let stand in a warm place until small bubbles form on the surface, about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat milk, 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, salt, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar in a small saucepan over very low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved and butter has melted. Be sure not to let the mixture become hotter than 115 degrees. or it will kill the yeast. Remove from heat, and pour into a large bowl; add the yeast mixture. Stir until combined. Add 6 cups flour, and stir until mixture forms a soft dough. It may be necessary to add the remaining 1/2 cup flour.
  3. Transfer mixture to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until the dough is smooth, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a large bowl, and place dough in bowl. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes. At this point, dough may be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Allow dough to reach room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  5. Punch dough down, and divide equally in half. Place on a clean work surface, and cover loosely with a kitchen towel or inverted bowl. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a baking sheet; set aside. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter; set aside.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll out on a lightly floured work surface until 3/4 inch thick. Fill with approximately 1/4 C tofu mixture and roll up. Lay on baking tray.