Italian sausage and fennel calzone

Like a folded pizza, calzone make a great lunch or supper. Aaron Craze stuffs his full of exciting flavours and textures
By Aaron Craze
Italian sausage and fennel calzone
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus rising
  • Effort: medium


For the filling

  • 3 Italian sausages
  • 1 bulb fennel, preferably Florence fennel, cut in 1cm dice
  • 1 banana shallot, finely sliced
  • couple knobs butter
  • splash white wine
  • 100 g fontina cheese, roughly chopped
  • handful tarragon, finely chopped

For the tomato sauce

  • 400 g tin cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • pinch sugar, optional

For the pizza dough

  • 300 ml tepid water
  • 15 g fresh yeast
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 500 g "00" tipo pasta flour
  • 150 g polenta
  • 1 tbsp toasted fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • fine ground semolina, for dusting and coating
  • baby salad leaves, to serve

Tips and Suggestions

Using polenta as well as flour will improve the depth of flavour and crisp texture of the finished calzone or pizza.

Fresh yeast imparts a better flavour and also works faster than its dried alternative. Its harder to find than dried but can still be bought at some of the larger supermarkets, such as Sainsburys, with in-house bakeries. Independent bakeries sometimes will sell you some of their own supplies.


1. For the pizza dough: mix the water, yeast, sugar and olive oil together in a jug as soon as it starts to froth, its ready to use. Sift the flour, polenta and salt together in a large bowl with the fennel seeds. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water mixture. Mix and knead the mixture together to form a smooth dough. Tip it out on a board and knead for 2 minutes. Make a cross on the top of the dough with a sharp knife and place the dough in a clean bowl. Cover with a damp cloth or cling film, then leave to rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until doubled in size.

2. For the filling: meanwhile, make the filling. Cook the sausages in an oiled frying pan, then remove and cut them in 1cm dice. Using the pan you cooked the sausages in, fry the fennel and shallot slices in a little butter then pour in the wine and an extra knob of butter, then cook for 2 minutes. Mix in the sausages and cook for a few more minutes, then leave to cool. Stir in the fontina cheese and the tarragon. Set aside.

3. For the tomato sauce: pour the canned cherry tomatoes into a hot, dry medium saucepan to cook off any excess liquid quickly. Then immediately add the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened. Remove and cool. This mixture will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, or you can freeze it.

4. When the dough has risen, dust a clean work surface or chopping board with a little semolina. Chop the dough in equal size pieces, about the size of your fist. Roll out each piece of the dough so its roughly circular and about the thickness of a pound coin. Cut out neat circles about 15cm in diameter using a bowl or cake tin as a guide.

5. To shape the calzone: preheat the oven to 220C/200Cfan/gas 7. Divide the sausage mixture between each calzone circle, placing a pile in the middle, then paint the edges with the beaten egg mixture. Carefully lift the far edge of the pizza dough and pull it over the top towards you you basically need to fold it in half. Crimp the edges to seal them well, so none of the filling can spill out. Brush the calzone with olive oil then coat in semolina. Place the calzone side by side on one or two baking trays, or use a pizza stone or granite slab. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on the bottom of the oven until the dough is puffed up and golden on top and the filling is hot.

6. Serve warm with the tomato sauce on the side and baby salad leaves.

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