If you happen to come to Rome, you’ll notice several spots that sell slices of pizza off the counter. You’ll then find yourself walking in and, with no hesitation, you’ll order more slices than wanted. The different toppings and flavors are showcased right there in front of you, you’re tempted to have them all. More keeps coming straight from the ovens and now you want some of that too. Eventually you will notice the difference with who does it better and when you find the right place you’ll give it a nickname, like the Romans tend to do. I still remember “i gemelli”, my favorite pizza guys! All they had were three types of pizza…white, red and spicy hot. There was no sign outside, they didn’t need a name. You would remember them and go back because the pizza was just so good. It was easy to guess why they were nicknamed i gemelli. The place was run by two brothers, both wearing (spotless) white t-shirts and… they were “gemelli”, identical twins. One served, the other made the pizza, they’d go so quick back and forth from the counter to the ovens, leaving you clueless who was who. The pizza was exquisite! Not too thin, not too thick, crunchy on the edges and with just the right amount of topping. Once they handed you over a piece, you’d walk out and stroll up and down the streets of Rome with your perfect slice of pizza to eat. The type of streetfood you would mostly see in Rome.
I suppose i gemelli are still around. I hope so! For a short while, they had something different to offer, il Calzone Ripieno. A pizza folded in half and sealed around the edges. A sort of pizza-parcel-wrap, easy to carry and easy to eat. Filled with tomato sauce and mozzarella, fried and served hot. As soon as you’d bite into it, the steamy cheese and sauce would ooze irrepressibly, and a moment of greedy gluttony would bring you to make the fateful voracious bite for more, leaving your tongue in a state of unarmed blistered sorrow. The pain was worth the bite, or the bite was worth the pain, whatever. One thing was sure, I’ll never forget that moment!
Talking about calzoni…I was recently overwhelmed by the nostalgia for some, and so, you know me…I made them :)
I was lacking the right ingredients that day, no mozzarella… where’s the sauce?! Nothing I needed was there, except for flour, yeast and cime di rapa (rapini). That’s what I had and that’s what I used. It wasn’t what my favorite twin brothers had to offer, but it made us all happy anyway! They sure did, yes Sirrrrry!
There's no set rule here, you don't need to use the same filling I used. You can make these calzoni, tiny or big. The options for the filling are abundant...tomato sauce and mozzarella, prosciutto and cheese, just cheese, cheese and mushrooms, any green leaf...just use your imagination or your favorite pizza topping. I always make my own dough but feel free to buy yours if you don't have time.
Just one reccomendation, don't overdo it with the filling, you'll end up with a soggy, not perfectly cooked calzone. You want it to be soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Otherwise don't make them, buy them :-)
300gr lukewarm water
A bunch of fresh Rapini (also known as Broccoli Rape) approx 400gr
2 garlic clove
1 hot pepper
extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
1 litre of peanut oil (or sunflower seed oil) for frying
Dissolve the yeast in the water and incorporate the mixture to the flour and salt. Knead to make a soft dough. Let it rest in a greased bowl covered with plastic film for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Trim the thick tough stems from the rape. Rinse and pat dry.
In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the hot pepper and the garlic, either chopped or whole, let it go for about 20 seconds, add the rapini and reduce the heat. Stir occasionally and season with salt. Cook for about 20 minutes. Put the rapini aside to cool.
Roll out the dough to about 5mm thick. Make as much disks as you can, use a medium size glass. Place a small amount of the cooked rapini in the middle, fold the disk in order to form a semi-circle-ravioli-shape and pinch the edges to seal.
Heat a litre of peanut oil in a pot. To check if you've reached the right temperature, throw in a tiny piece of dough. It should sizzle and float immediately.
Now you are ready to fry, Place no more than 3 calzoni. With the help of a spoon or thongs to turn the calzoni as they fry so that they are cooked evenly. When they reach a golden color, lift from the oil and place on a plate with some absorbent paper.
Calzoni are best served hot. If you want to anticipate the frying to serve later, keep them warm in a low heated oven.