Simple (and sometimes complex haha) comfort food has been my go-to as we maintain the stay-at-home lifestyle in the midst of some harsh winter-in-April kind of weather. Homemade pizza, pasta, grain bowls, curries, new bread recipes, fun baking projects like soft pretzels, and old reliable treats like banana bread. We’re still getting some vegetables in, but not being too hard on ourselves if we just want a bowl of cereal and almond milk for lunch. Strange times, new eating routines, new LIFE routines, and new levels of understanding ourselves. I cannot believe how new this all still feels, but simultaneously like we’re all deeply immersed in the routine of it at this point.
Today, we’ve got pizza in an alternative handheld package that I just love so much. Calzones are simple and actually really fun to make! These ones have browned up spicy vegan sausages (I love the Beyond Meat ones), sautéed broccoli rabe, marinara, and a little bit of cashew ricotta that we whip up from scratch. I’m not typically a vegan meat person, like at all. But the Beyond Meat sausages really hit me the right way. This isn’t a sponsored recipe or anything. We just like them and have a few stashed in our freezer for comfort food emergencies like this one ;). You could also just make a simple broccoli rabe and ricotta calzone if you like.Maybe add some chopped up olives and pepperonccini peppers to the mix? Yum.
Hope you give this recipe a try if you’re interested in a fun little cooking project. That first meaty, cheesy, marinara-y (hehe) bite is SO satisfying. I hope that all of you are staying well and healthy out there. Big hug.
SPICY VEGAN SAUSAGE CALZONES WITH RICOTTA & BROCCOLI RABE
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: Makes 4 calzones
NOTES: I have a spelt pizza dough recipe here and I also love Flourist’s light wheat dough here. Epicurious has a simple and great one right here.
-You can substitute the cashews with skinned and sliced almonds, macadamia nuts, or even raw sunflower seeds! I would let the macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds soak for 4 full hours though.
-I used Beyond Meat’s Hot Italian sausages here. I am not a vegan meat person, but for some reason I can’t get enough of these! Field Roast makes great vegan sausage options too.
-That cheesy topping on the calzones in the photo is just a cashew that I grated with a Microplane! So cool. You could also make some basic vegan “parm” to sprinkle on top.
CASHEW RICOTTA (makes extra):
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours
¼ cup hot water, plus extra if necessary
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons light miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
sea salt, to taste
SPICY VEGAN SAUSAGE CALZONE INGREDIENTS:
2 vegan sausages, chopped (see headnote)
½ bunch broccoli rabe, leaves separated from the stalks
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus extra
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
ground chilies or chili flakes, to taste
1 lb pizza dough, at room temperature
flour for the counter
½ cup marinara sauce
Make the cashew ricotta. First, drain the cashews. Then, in a food processor, combine the drained cashews, hot water, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, miso, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Run the motor until you have a smooth, ricotta-like texture, scraping the sides down a couple times. Add more water if necessary. Once you have a smooth, slightly grainy ricotta-like texture, scrape the mixture into a bowl and store in the fridge.
Heat a small saute pan over medium high heat. Add the chopped vegan sausages to the pan. Stir and saute the pieces until you see some browned edges, about 4-5 minutes. Scrape the cooked sausage bits out onto a paper towel lined plate.
Wipe out the pan and set it back on the heat. Chop the broccoli rabe stalks into 1-inch pieces and give the leaves a rough chop as well. Pour the olive oil into the pan and add the chopped broccoli stalk pieces. Stir and saute until stems are bright green, about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Add the chopped leaves to the pan and a splash of water. Cover with a lid and cook until the broccoli rabe leaves are wilted and the stalks are tender, about 1 minute. Season again with salt and pepper. Remove the broccoli rabe from the heat, ensuring that all of the water has evaporated. Allow to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide your pizza dough into 4 portions. Gently shape the portions into circles with your hands. Then, ldust your workspace with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll the circles of dough out to 6-7 inches in diameter.
Retrieve your cashew ricotta from the fridge. Place it near your workspace along with the cooked vegan sausage, marinara, and cooked broccoli rabe. In the center of each dough circle, spoon 2 tablespoons of marinara, ¼ of the cooked vegan sausage, 2 tablespoons of the cashew ricotta, and ¼ of the cooked broccoli rabe. Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients.
Fold the dough over the filling, tightly pinching and twisting the edges to seal. Place the calzones on your prepared baking sheet. Lightly brush the tops with olive oil and sprinkle chili, salt, and pepper on top.
Bake the spicy vegan sausage calzones for 25-30 minutes, using the broil function for 2 minutes at the end of the cooking process to brown the top if necessary. Serve the calzones warm or at room temp.