Syrian Kismet Calzone
Here’s a pepperoni calzone recipe with a seedy past!
Some say that string cheese originated in the middle-eastern country of Syria. However, there is also evidence that this popular cheese came to Syria by way of the Armenians. Commonly known in Arab-speaking countries as jibneh mshallaleh, this white cheese starts out as a braided bundle that one untangles before eating. It is made from cow’s milk, and contains Mahlab an indigenous spice of the Middle-East. The little black dots on the string cheese are seeds from the nigella sativa, called ḥabbat al-barakah meaning the “seed of blessing” which lends to the string cheese a unique flavor. During the course of culturing, the cheese is pulled in such a way that produce elasticity and then it is tightly braided.
For centuries the “seed of blessing, or fortune”, also known as black seed, had been used in middle-eastern countries to treat such ailments as bronchitis, bronchial asthma, and arthritis, as well as certain inflammatory disorders. The seed is also helpful in increasing the milk production in nursing mothers, to remedy digestive problems, to maintain and enhance the body’s immune system, to aid in digestion and purging, and to fight infestations of parasites. This oil has also been used to treat skin afflictions such as boils and eczema, and used topically to assist in the treatment cold symptoms.
1 cup canned, crushed tomatoes
½ tsp Italian seasoning
2 ropes of string cheese
2 cups chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup thin-sliced onion
2 cups coarsely chopped spinach leaves
1/2 TBSP. minced garlic
25 pieces of chopped pepperoni
1 package refrigerated dough
Flour, for dusting
5 (tsp). Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp crushed red pepper
Non-stick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375°. In a microwaveable bowl, sprinkle tomatoes with Italian seasoning garlic powder, onion powder and crushed red pepper. Set aside.
Slice string cheese sticks into three pieces and coarsely chop. Set aside.
Spray a large skillet with nonstick spray, and heat to medium heat on the stove. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally. Sauté for about four minutes; until soft. Transfer mixture to paper towel-lined bowl to absorb the excess moisture. Set aside.
Place the spinach and garlic in the skillet and sauté until wilted—a minute or so, stirring frequently. Place in the same bowl to the bowl as the mushrooms and onion. Remove the paper towels and pat the vegetables dry with fresh paper towels.
Add the pepperoni and ½ of the crushed tomatoes to the vegetable mixture. Mix well. Set aside. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Set aside. Roll out the sheet of dough evenly. Ensure that the dough is of uniform thickness. Cut into five, 3” x 9” sections.
Dust workspace with flour, and place one section of dough in the center. Fold the section in half twice and level out with palm. Using a rolling pin dusted in flour, roll the dough into a large oval. The longer ends should be at the top and bottom. Place 1/5th of pepperoni vegetable mixture in the middle. Top with 1/5th of the shredded cheese and 1 tsp. of the Parmesan cheese. Brush edges lightly with egg wash. Extend the top of the dough over the filling to the bottom; to forming a crescent shape.
Seal the edges firmly with a fork. Gently transfer to a non-stick-sprayed baking sheet. Repeat the process for the remaining four calzones. Dust workspace with flour, if necessary.
Make a few slits in each calzone, to allow steam to escape. Bake for 17 minutes, until golden. Heat the remaining crushed tomatoes. When calzones are slightly cooled, serve with tomatoes as a dipping sauce.