October Pesto Calzones
Mini Calzones packed with autumn vegetables and flavor!
Known as The King of Herbs, basil is one of the eldest and most frequently used herbal plants. It is a veritable wellspring of significant nutrients. This illustrious plant is thought to be a "holy herb" in many traditions worldwide. The word “basil” originates from the Greek basileus which means, "king", as it had supposedly grown above the very site at which St Helen and her son St. Constantine came upon the Holy Cross carried by Jesus. Some speculate that basil could have been an ingredient in a ceremonial oil, bath, or medicine. In Boccaccio's Decameron, an unforgettably gruesome tale concerning Lisabetta, whose brothers kill her lover. He (the lover) comes to Lisbetta in a dream and divulges his burial location. She secretly exhumes his head and places it in a container of basil, which she waters every day with her tears. Her cruel brothers steal the container of basil and not long afterward, Lisbetta dies of a broken heart. Boccaccio’s tale is derivative of Keats' poem Isabella or The Pot of Basil - which then inspired Millais’ paintings, Isabella, and Isabella and the Pot of Basil.
Another disturbing legend regarding basil is that if one chews its leaves, spits and places the wad in sunlight, they will immediately transform into worms. But wait! There’s more: an alternative version reports that the chewed & spat basil would turn into scorpions. And had the basil been swallowed, the scorpions would have set up house-keeping in that person’s brain. Yikes!
1 large Butternut squash, peeled, seeded; cut into bite-sized pieces
1 sliced red onion
1 thin pizza crust
2 cups of basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
4 TBSP of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp all-spice
⅛ tsp Sea salt
⅛ tsp ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400°.
In a bowl, lightly toss the pieces of squash, onion slices, cinnamon, all-spice, salt and pepper with 1 TBSP of olive oil. Place mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for a half hour. Toss again after twenty minutes. Remove from oven.
Meanwhile, place the basil pine nuts, minced garlic, grated Parmesan cheese and a dash of salt and pepper in a food processor. Add the 3 TBSP of oil while the food processor is running and mix until smooth.
Unroll the pizza crust on a floured surface. With a pizza cutter, separate the dough into six squares. Spoon out a bit of the pesto onto each piece of dough, and top with roasted vegetable mixture. Sprinkle additional cheese over the top. Extend one side of the dough over the mixture and toward the opposite side. Press the edges together on the other to seal.
Gently brush each calzone with oil and return to 400° oven and bake according to pizza dough directions ; about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.