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Apulian calzone Fried or baked, round or with a half-moon shape, it can have many different types of stuffing: spunzali and anchovies, mozzarella and tomatoes, ricotta and broccoli rabe tips, to which pitted olives, anchovies, capers can be added… by Dario Ersetti
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Apulian Calzone. The “round” version with a filling of baked ham, mozzarella, tomato and basil. Irresistible! Photo by Dario Ersetti

In Puglia it is called panzerotto and calzone in Salento, it can be fried or baked in the oven, it can have many different types of stuffing, it is widespread all over southern Italy but apparently it was first made in Puglia not in Campania, as is commonly believed.

Perhaps it was first made to entertain children and to keep them quiet while their mum was busy baking bread. And it is exactly with the dough for making bread that small half-moons of dough were prepared and stuffed with pieces of cheese and tomato and baked in the oven.

A variation is the Bari panzerotto, which consists of a disc of dough with a diameter of about thirty centimeters folded in two and stuffed with spunzali and anchovies.

Apparently this specialty gave the name to spunzali, spring onions, that are very popular in Puglia (see article “Apulian Cooking” of March 2013), as it was served as a good omen during the ceremony when a betrothed couple promised to marry, a ceremony called “sponsali” (“the couple to be wed”).

In addition to the half-moon shape there is also a round version with a rather marked edge in Puglia recalling the focaccia, which is also typical.

 

The recipe

 

   4 servings:

 

- 150 g of leavened dough

- 300 g of spunzali

- 1 desalted anchovy

- ½ liter of extra virgin olive oil

- salt

 

 

Gently fry the spunzali, cut into thin slices, in olive oil on a very low light. Then, remove from the heat, and add the anchovy making it melt, adding salt if needed.

With the dough make a disc of about thirty centimeters diameter. Place the stuffing on one half and cover it by folding the other half, sealing carefully the edge. Make a small hole on the upper part to let the steam out. Brush with olive oil and bake in the oven at 220° C until the dough becomes a light golden brown (about fifteen minutes).

As an alternative, with the same amount of dough make two or more discs to obtain small half-moons which are fried in abundant olive oil.

Normally for the round version the stuffing is much more abundant and the calzone is cooked on a baking tray.

This seems to be the oldest recipe. In other versions we can find mozzarella and tomatoes, ricotta and bacon, ricotta and broccoli rabe tips, to which pitted olives, anchovies, capers, provolone cheese, tomatoes etc., can be added.

In Acquaviva delle Fonti (Bari) the local red onion and ricotta forte (fermented ricotta with a very strong taste, typical of Puglia) are used, whereas in Ischitella, in the province of Foggia, the calzone has a sweet and sour taste, since in addition to spunzali and anchovies there are raisins. Here calzone has a round shape and is rather big with a marked edge. Every year a “Calzone festival” takes place in these two villages; other festivals in the province of Bari are held in Binetto, Canosa and Corato.

In the pictures, the stuffing of a half-moon calzone is made of red onion, ricotta and ricotta forte. The round calzone is filled with cooked ham, tomatoes, mozzarella, grana cheese and basil, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with pepper.

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