Ahh, packing lunch for the kiddies... always so challenging. As I mentioned before, my kids always want to have the pre-packaged stuff that their friends get in their lunch bags. Never mind that mommy is trying hard to minimize the amount of (a) factory produced food we consume and (b) waste we produce.
So once in a while, I have to pull out a trump card to get my kids reinvigorated about their Food Inc-wary, stainless steel container lunches. Some good ol' standbys are anything related to pasta, pizza and hamburgers. (Ever notice how kids' favourite foods slowly evolve into a take-out menu? Where has my three year-old, school-naive son whose favourite dessert was red bean buns gone? Apparently, he's been swallowed up by this new SK kid who talks with his friends about how they all loooove ice cream ;)
Of course, who has time to make these things the night before or, worse yet, the morning of school? And if you made said meal for dinner the night before and tried to serve the same thing for lunch the next day? Ha! Good luck selling that doggy bag.
So I've taken to having some lunchbox friendly meals in the freezer to make my life easier - in the morning, I just reheat and package. I've posted about my frozen individual mac and cheese before and this post is about calzones.
I almost always have some calzones in the freezer, ready for our hectic school mornings. Since you can make them with store-bought pizza dough and they can be as simple as pepperoni and cheese filled, they are also an easy and portable hot lunch.
Do you remember when they used to teach us how healthy pizza was because it contained all four food groups? Well, here's one that finally fits that bill! It always amazes me how much kale/spinach/chard, the kids will eat when it's stuffed into a pizza crust. Not to mention that the sauce usually contains blended carrots and peppers as well as fresh tomatoes!
The calzones of choice at our house are sausage and dark leafy greens combined with cubes of real mozzarella and a touch of sauce. I just cook up the filling, let it cool and then mix with with some sauce before stuffing it into divvied up bits of pizza dough. They heat up so easily with a brush of oil in the oven or toaster oven. Anyway, here's an approximate recipe for anyone who's interested.
Sausage and Mixed Green Calzones Yield: 12 lunchbox-sized calzones
1 lb sausage meat (or you can buy sausages and remove the casings), formed into tiny 1 cm meatballs
2 bunches mixed greens, chopped (I had a large kale, a small bunch of beet greens and a small bunch of radish leaves)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano, crumbled with your fingertips
8 oz mozzarella, cubed
1 cup tomato sauce (homemade or prepared)
1 lb pizza dough (homemade or prepared)
- In a large saute pan, heat a small amount of oil over medium high heat and fry sausage meatballs.
- Add greens and cook until wilted and most of the moisture has evaporated.
- Add garlic and oregano and cook for 2 minutes more. Taste and season with salt and pepper as necessary. Let cool.
- Add mozzarella and tomato sauce to the cooled pan and stir to evenly distribute the cheese.
- Divide the pizza dough into 12 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll or stretch the dough into 6 or 7-inch rounds.
- Spoon a generous amount of filling (~1/3 cup) into the centre of the round. Stretch the top edge of the dough down over the filling and pinch the edges to seal.
- Bake or freeze the calzones for later.
- To bake (fresh or frozen)... Preheat the oven to 400F. Using a sharp knife, cut a small slit in the top of the calzone. Brush the calzone with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden and some juices are starting to bubble out of the slit/steam vent.
Experiment with your fillings - It's basically a delicious stuffed sandwich that you can fill with whatever you want and then stick together using yummy cheese!