Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Double Big Vegan Whammy: Calzones & Cake!

For this final Big Vegan virtual potluck post, I couldn't decide whether I wanted to make a main course or a dessert... so I made both! This often happens to me with real-life potlucks as well.

For the main course, Robin's book has a section on pizza and calzone recipes, and it was nearly impossible to decide what I wanted to make first. How do you choose between recipes like Cast-Iron Alfredo Pizza with Spinach & Olives, or a Deep-Dish Mushroom-Spinach Pizza, or a Roasted Potato & Rosemary Pizza? In the end, I decided to try out one of her calzone recipes, because I had never made homemade calzones before and was feeling up to the challenge.

Calzones really aren't hard to make, since they're basically mini pizzas folded in half. I tried to remember the last time I'd actually had a calzone - I think it must have been almost 20 years ago! I remember them being huge and overstuffed, oozing with tons of gooey cheese. Basically a heart attack on a plate. Robin's versions are much more appropriately sized, delicious, and filled with healthy ingredients, like kale and sundried tomato in the version I made. In fact, they were so surprisingly light, and so packed with flavor, that we actually ended up eating two of them. The recipe doesn't mention a sauce, but I served these with a side of warmed marinara sauce. They are certainly worth the effort, but if you're feeling a bit lazier you could easily use some store-bought pizza dough.

Kale & Sun-Dried Tomato Calzones (from Big Vegan)

serves 8

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
12 oz. firm tofu, drained, pressed, and crumbled
2 cups chopped fresh kale
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 oz. silken tofu
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped
1/2 cup dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour, plus extra for counter
2 tsp. bread-machine yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for bowl
1 Tbsp. brown rice syrup

1. Make the filling: In a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and firm tofu, saute until onions start to brown. Add the kale and garlic and cook 2 minutes, until the kale is soft. Take the pan off the heat and add the silken tofu, tomatoes, bread crumbs, basil, and salt and knead until it holds together. Let cool.

2. Make the crust: In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or a large bowl, mix 2 1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, and salt. In a measuring cup, measure 1 1/4 cups warm water and stir in the oil and brown rice syrup. Add the liquids to the dry and mix, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Divide the dough into 8 pieces. On a lightly floured counter, roll out each dough piece to a 6-inch oval. Scoop 1/2 cup of the filling into the center of each. Dampen the edge of the dough and fold over. Seal and crimp the edges with a fork. Put the calzones on an oiled baking sheet. Poke a vent in the tops with a fork. Cover and let them rise in a warm, draft-free place until puffy, about 30 minutes.

4. Uncover and bake the calzones until the bottoms are browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve hot, or let them cool completely before wrapping in foil and refrigerating for tomorrow. 

And for dessert, I made Robin's Pumpkin-Cherry Bundt Cake with Cherry Glaze. It is pumpkin dessert season, after all, and this was actually one of the first recipes I flagged in the book to try. Pumpkin and cherry is a delicious combination and this cake couldn't be more perfect for the fall/winter holidays.

Pumpkin-Cherry Bundt Cake with Cherry Glaze (from Big Vegan)

serves 12

Vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups wholewheat pastry flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
15 oz. canned or pureed pumpkin
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup soy yogurt (I used vanilla)
2 tsp. egg replacer powder
1 cup dried cherries, plus more for garnish

For glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup cherry juice
1/2 tsp. almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 10-inch Bundt cake pan with oil spray. In a large bowl, combine both flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, maple syrup, oil, and yogurt. In a small cup, whisk 3 Tbsp. water with the egg replacer powder until frothy, then stir into the pumpkin mixture. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture, and when they are almost combined, add the cherries and mix them in. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack.

2. Carefully run a paring knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake, then put a cake plate on top and invert the cake onto the plate.

3. Make the glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cherry juice, and almond extract until a thick glaze forms.

4. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and sprinkle it with dried cherries while the glaze is still wet. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

It's the very last day to enter to win your own copy of Big Vegan! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment here answering this question: What's your favorite VEGAN main course to make for the holidays?


  1. This year I'll make spicy orange-glazed tofu with cardamom rice and portwine sauce and a rainbow salad with raspberry vinegraitte. Decided to go vegan from 8 years of vegetarianism, starting today - surely there can't be a more appropriate day to do so than this?

  2. Would it be possible to use eg. Swiss chard instead of kale in your calzone-recipe? Am yet to find kale in the Swiss supermarkets...

  3. Spicy orange-glazed tofu sounds amazing! Yes, you could definitely use swiss chard, spinach, or any other leafy green in this recipe. Sad that you can't find kale there though - it's one of my favorites!

  4. My favorite vegan main course to make for the holidays is a big plate of Aglio E Olio. My gramma used to make it for holidays and it's easily my families favorite vegan dish! :)

  5. I made a huge chickpea cutlet with stuffings on the inside last year. It made for a nice centerpiece!

  6. I so love pumpkin! What a perfect dessert to choose for today!

  7. Okay, that cake looks divine! My favorite holiday meal lately is savory lentil butternut squash latkes, roasted baby red potatoes, mushroom gravy, and a green vegetable (like brussel sprouts)!

  8. My favourite vegan main course would have to be curry... I can't believe I've been converted to Indian cuisine so easily! :)

  9. I haven't made a vegan holiday main course yet, but I'm giving seitan a shot this year!

  10. I love serving curried lentil loaf! Thank you for sharing the yummy recipe!

  11. Hmm! I am curious about the kale calzone; maybe I'll have to make it!

    I think butternut with a festive cranberry stuffing would be my choice for a holiday vegan main course.