Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Faking It?

I have a confession: I like Rachel Ray.

So many people don't. They think she's too cheery, too fakey, too cutesy. But I disagree. Her energy is infectious--seeing only a few moments of her 30 Minute Meals almost invariably hooks me and brings a smile to my face. This is especially true when Ray offers up an easy, time-saving alternative to a recipe I already love.

For example, she has a recipe for Calzone Rolls with Salami, Tomato, and Basil. Now, I love calzones, but putting them together can be daunting, especially when you're me and your kitchen is only thisbig. So Ray's proposed alternative of Kaiser rolls cut in half (with some of the bread scooped out for easier stuffing) totally appeals to me.

Except I wasn't feeling the Caprese salami filling. I really wanted a spinach calzone. But guess what? The next recipe on Ray's section of the Food Network website was for real calzones with spinach-artichoke filling. One flash of genius later, I decided to combine the recipes, using the filling from one and the crust from another.

The filling goes as follows (with my changes):

- 2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese (about one and a half smaller--16-ish-ounce--tubs, or part of a larger tub)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or slightly less ground
- Black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or as much as you like)
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and dried (in the event that you're popping into the grocery store just before dinnertime, pick up a package of fresh spinach, boil it, drain it, and shred it with a fork)
- 1 (15-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or garlic powder to taste, in a pinch)
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Large, crusty Kaiser rolls (one time, I couldn't find Kaiser rolls at the store--no joke--and substituted large onion buns, which worked out all right)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Mix up everything but the mozzarella and the rolls in a bowl. Set aside. Cut the rolls, making sure the top portion is smaller than the bottom, and scoop out some of the bread from the bottom portion. Fill the rolls with some of the filling, then add mozzarella cheese to taste and replace the tops.

Spread the rolls evenly across a baking sheet. Heat 10-12 minutes, or until cooked through.

The result will look something like this:

And it will be delicious. The best part is that you should have some filling left over, so you can make another couple of rolls for lunch the next day, or use it as dip to go with crackers.

See the original recipes here and here.


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