I had my first calzone in college. There was a spot in town that only made calzones. Their menu had, like, 25 different kinds of calzones. They would deliver right to the dorms, so they were always an easy option during my freshman year. What’s the difference between a stromboli and a calzone? Simple – there’s no red sauce in a calzone. They are fun to eat, less messy than stromboli and totally dippable (if that is even a word). You can fill them with virtually anything – except red sauce, obvi. Using pre-made pizza dough makes it ridiculously easy to make delicious calzones at home. My favorite is this Sausage & Pesto Calzone.
To be fair, pesto on anything is amazing. You could literally put pesto sauce on a nail and I’d probably eat it. Homemade pesto is so easy to make and with the abundance of basil in the garden during the summer months, I stockpile batches of pesto in the freezer and it often lasts all year long. You can grab my recipe here. But you don’t have to make it yourself. There are plenty of quality versions of pesto sauce that you can buy in a jar, and you shouldn’t feel bad about it. Buying store bought pesto makes this Sausage & Pesto Calzone even easier to put together than it already is.
Another shortcut you can take is buying a shaker of Italian Seasoning. It’s great on so many things – pizza, pasta, veggies, proteins. I love to make my own and store it in the fridge because there is a little bit of cheese in mine. I’ll give you the recipe below, but if you’re in a crunch, just buy some at the store. You’ll be shaking it onto this Sausage & Pesto Calzone before baking.
For the sausage, of course I use turkey sausage, but use whatever you like, as long as it’s Italian. Hot sausage is really tasty in this calzone, but I’ve also used sweet sausage and it’s still really good. The combination of sausage and pesto sauce is so flavorful and delicious. You’ll brown the sausage in a pan and then break it up into small pieces. I like mine to look like taco meat when it’s done, so I use a potato masher to get the pieces really small.
I like to serve this Sausage & Pesto Calzone as an appetizer – just cut it into slices for easy grabbing – or as a light dinner alongside a big salad. Any way you serve it, I promise it will disappear. Come to think of it, you may want to make two! Enjoy!
For the Calzone
- 1 package of premade pizza dough
- 2-3 links of hot Italian sausage
- 1/2 cup pesto sauce
- 3 slices provolone cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
For the Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Remove the sausage from the casings. Over medium heat, brown the sausage in a frying pan, breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On a well floured surface, roll the pizza dough into the shape of a rectangle. Spread the pesto sauce lengthwise down the center of the dough. Layer the provolone slices on top of the pesto sauce, followed by the sausage and 3/4 cup of mozzarella.
Roll the dough from the bottom left corner to the top right corner, taking care to keep all of the fillings inside. Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese and a generous amount of Italian seasoning.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the crust is golden.