This was a weekend of family culinary tradition. I’ve written about our tradition of making Pizza Rustica, the incredible meat pie that some Italians bake to celebrate Easter. I even made a video about it. I’ve always loved these meat pies. Cheese, meats, pastry crust… what’s not to love? I also love the recent tradition of the whole family getting together to make 20 or so pies as we did this past weekend.
This post is about another family recipe from my childhood. One that started out as something I despised.
Another dish that was made around Easter time was simply known as “Nanna’s Calzone”. Growing up, I didn’t know many families that made this. It wasn’t very popular outside of my family. A few years ago I did some research and I found out it goes by many names depending on the town in Italy where you are from. The most accepted name for this is: “Calzone di Cipolla Alla Pugliese” (or “Puglian Onion Pie”). My maternal grandmother’s family is from a region outside of Bari, a port town on the Adriatic Sea. I found out that it’s made mostly in that area of Italy.
The dish did not play well with my early childhood taste buds. It’s a salty / savory concoction of olives, onions and most of all, anchovy. Not only did it taste horrible to a young, unexperienced little Long Island kid, I also dreaded the day that my parents would make it. The house would stink like onions, everyone’s eyes would be tearing, and all of this work was all for this fishy tasting, salty pie. It was all sacrifice and no reward!
Well, they say your taste buds change every 7 years. I revisited this pie 15 or so years ago and thought it was pretty amazing, but for reasons I don’t understand, our family hadn’t made it in years. I started searching for it online, and decided that I was going to try to recreate it this year, and surprise my family. This past Friday, I was visiting my parents’ house, and I noticed cans of olives and tins of anchovies on the kitchen counter. Great minds think alike, I guess, because my mother also decided to make the pie this year. As a result, this past weekend we got to have a “calzone contest” at Palm Sunday dinner. My mother made the traditional version that I (and she) grew up with, while I updated the recipe and made it my own. The winners were the entire family who got to eat lots of calzone.
Here is the recipe for something that started out for me as a most dreaded family culinary tradition, but quickly became one of my favorites. It’s my version of Nanna’s Calzone…. or Calzone di Cipolla Alla Pugliese.
For the dough:
(Note: You can use your own savory pastry dough recipe for this. I found a few that called for wine and came up with this simple recipe)
- 3/4 Pound of White Flour
- 3/4 Cup of DRY White wine (I used a Sancerre)
- 3 Tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
- Pinch of salt
For the Filling:
- 3 Tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
- 3 Medium Sized Onions thinly sliced (I used a mandoline set as thin as I could get it without the onions falling apart)
- 3/4 Cup of pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
- 8-12 (depending on your taste) anchovy fillets in oil, chopped
- Crushed red pepper to taste (I used a small pinch)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
Make The Dough
Put all of the dough ingredients together in a stand mixer. Mix on low until it becomes a smooth ball. OR, if you are old school… screw the stand mixer and knead by hand until smooth.
Separate the dough in to two equal balls.
Roll each ball out to a circle that will fill a 8-9 inch pie pan, making a top and bottom for your calzone.
Drop a bit of olive oil in the pie pan and distribute with your fingers so the pan is coated.
Place the bottom in the pan and make the filling
Make the Filling
Pour the Olive Oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat
Add the crushed red pepper and the onions
Slowly sauté until the onions are soft and well reduced, but NOT caramelized.
Add the chopped olives and anchovies, stirring to combine for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
Fill the pie pan that has the crust lining the bottom.
Use the second layer of dough to cover the pie, pressing around the edges to seal the filling inside. Make sure that it’s well sealed.
Poke slits in the pie every few inches
Glaze the top of the pie with a bit of EV olive oil, use a brush or your fingers
Cook in the 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until the top gets golden brown.
Let the pie cool. Serve at room temperature. Personally, I like this pie after it’s been refrigerated overnight, and then let to come to room temperature.