Sunday, August 23, 2009

New Jersey Flavors

I was recently in New Brunswick, New Jersey for a week called "Urban Plunge." Teams came from several states in order to serve in various areas throughout the community. Fortunately, I was placed on a track that served at Elijah's Promise soup kitchen. Started in 1989, Elijah's Promise is now the largest soup kitchen in New Jersey. As a nutrition professional, I was very excited to learn that they are not just about putting food on the table but that they strive to provide nutritious meals that are fresh, balanced, healthy and taste good. It was such a rewarding way for me to spend my time!
In the mornings they would put us to work chopping fruits and vegetables for the lunch meal. It was truly amazing how the chef would organize the different volunteers every day, putting them to work (many of whom likely not having much cooking experience). And somehow the food always turned out great and no fingers were chopped off! One day we actually made fresh pizzas--enough for at least 175 people. The soup kitchen receives donations from area markets and farmers, plus they have a plot of land on a farm where they grow their own produce. We covered the pizzas with all of the vegetables, cheese and meat we could find, plus we also served sauteed pesto vegetables. Yummy!

Last week as I was thinking of what to make for dinner with friends, I decided to use my own pizza dough recipe and make calzones. A co-worker had given me zucchini from her garden and my little garden was ready to harvest tomatoes, green peppers, and some fresh herbs; so I thought pesto vegetable calzones would be perfect. You can fill yours with whatever you have on hand--ham, pineapple, peppers, mushrooms, sausage, chicken, tomatoes, olives--pull out what you can find in your freezer or refrigerator!

Elijah's Veggie Calzones
Serves 4

1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
1 tsp salt
3 c white flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 T honey
Pesto vegetables (see below.
2-3 cups fresh spinach leaves
16oz mozzarella, fresh cut into slices or shredded
4 oz Parmesan cheese
1 handful of fresh basil- chopped
1 handful of fresh oregano- chopped
8oz can of tomato sauce

Measure water into bowl and sprinkle with yeast. Stir thoroughly. Add 1 c white flour to liquid. Beat 3 minutes with mixer. Add salt and honey. Mix by hand or with dough hook on mixer. Add remaining flours, 1 c at a time; knead for 5 minutes. Roll into ball and let rest of 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450. Grease and dust baking sheet with cornmeal (or use airbake pan). Separate dough into four equal balls.
Roll out the dough and brush with a little olive oil. Leaving about a 1 inch perimeter, spread several tablespoons of tomato sauce over the inner portion of the dough. In the bottom half of the dough, spoon about 1/2 cup of the pesto vegetables, handful of spinach leaves, handful of mozzarella cheese, some of the fresh herbs and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Fold the upper half of the dough over the vegetable mixture. Pinch the dough to form a lip and then twist the dough together to close the calzone. Brush with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crust is browned.

Pesto Vegetables-Give all of the vegetables a rough chop
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
2 small green bell peppers
1 large tomato or 2 small-medium tomatoes
1 small yellow onion
3-5 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup pesto sauce (homemade or store bought)

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a skillet, heat on medium-high and add garlic and all of the vegetables. Saute for about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pesto sauce and evenly disperse through out the vegetables. Saute for 2-3 more minutes and remove from heat.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds delicious! Sounds like you'll fit in great in New Jersey!


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