Mediterranean Calzones

California Ripe Olives are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and are also a flavorful addition to traditional foods from other cuisines, like these  veggie packed pizza pockets . Mediterranean Calzones are filled with a ratatouille made in the slow cooker.

Disclosure: I received free samples of California Ripe Olives mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Ripe Olives and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

It’s no secret, the Mediterranean diet is recognized as one of the healthiest ways to feed yourself and your family. I highly recommend this lifestyle because of its diverse foods and flavors and the fact that there’s  no calorie counting! I follow to the principles myself  and enjoy a myriad of foods including : fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, nuts, legumes, fresh fish and seafood, lean meats, cheese and yogurt, red wine, and California ripe Olives! I savor olives for their flavor, color and texture! But I include them in my diet for a reason beyond taste; they’re a source of monounsaturated fat. This is the fat that’s associated with increased longevity, reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of chronic disease, lower blood pressure and improved brain function.

For the most part, I eat according to the seasons. When it comes to California olives, I enjoy ’em year round because they’re packaged at their peak to preserve nutrients. A serving of olives is trans fat free, contains no cholesterol and provides : fiber (0.5 gram per serving), vitamin E (0.25mg per serving), vitamin A (60IU per serving), iron ( 0.49 mg per serving) and plant powered polyphenols.

Today I am  highlighting California Ripe Olives in a unique and tasty recipe that integrates whole grains, fresh vegetables, red wine, cheese, and garden herbs  into  a time-honored Italian meal: Mediterranean Calzones

the calzone. A slow cooker is used to make a quintessential Mediterranean ratatouille that fills the ‘hot pockets’ and is also spooned over the oven browned crust after baking. It makes a terrific dinner and  reheats for an easy lunch.

California Ripe Olives are one of the most versatile items you’ll keep  in your pantry. Be sure to check out the bottom of this post for more ways to enjoy ’em in a healthy diet.

Mediterranean Calzones

(serves 8)

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium green pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium American globe Eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 – 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup Shiraz or other fruity red wine
  • 1/4 cup roughy chopped fresh basil + additional for garnish
  • 5 springs fresh oregano
  • 1/2 cup California black ripe olives, sliced
  • 1 1/2 pounds refrigerated whole wheat pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 12 ounces part- skim mozzarella cheese shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

1. Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

2. Add olive oil to 10 inch saute pan. Heat over medium heat ; when hot add pepper, onions,  and garlic. Saute until vegetables until softened, about 8 minutes.

3. Place eggplant and squash into the bottom of slow cooker. Add tomatoes, and sautéed vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Pour wine over top.

4. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours adding fresh herbs and sliced olives during the last 15 minutes of cooking.

5. Allow the dough to stand covered, at room temperature, for one hour.

6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

7. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkled with cornmeal. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 6-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Top each round with 2 -3 Tablespoons ratatouille, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top rounds evenly with cheese; fold dough over, and crimp edges with a fork to seal.

8. Arrange calzones on prepared baking sheets. Brush tops with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes. Serve each calzone with additional ratatouille and fresh basil.

Tip: To reheat calzones stored in the refrigerator, microwave in one minute-bursts on high, until heated through (2-3 minutes total) or in the oven/toaster oven at 300 degrees F until heated through.

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Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

Days I’m out of the house until 7 pm are rare, but when they do occur, I am usually hungry when I walk through the door and want something to eat right away. It’s tempting to  do what I did in my twenties, pour dinner from a cereal box  and call it a day. Now that I’m older, I like to think I’m wiser. Call it what you want, but  I’m a bit of a stickler for adhering to a schedule of protein intake to maintain my hard earned muscle, stay energized and NOT feel any older than I am! What’s my schedule?  Taking in 25-30 grams of high quality protein at each meal and paying attention to the interaction between protein and exercise (more on that in another post, I promise).

In case you’ve missed it, here’s one of my breakfasts, a savoy Dutch pancake.  And one of my lunches, a 5 minute citrus salad. Today’s post showcases one of my dinners. This slow cooked chicken tangine is prepped early in the day and put into a slow cooker. Vegetables are added in  during the last 30 to 60 minutes to keep from over cooking.   I love it because it packs in the necessary protein (key for my optimal health), and it’s savory good.
 Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut SquashWhat do you think of when you think cinnamon?  I think of toast and lattes. But after making this savory slow cooked chicken tangine, seasoned with cinnamon, I’m seeing it from a different  perspective.
Slow  Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

Slow Cooked Chicken Tangine with Butternut Squash

by Diane Boyd

Ingredients (4 servings)

  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 shallots, quatered
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 cups cubed and peeled butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped

Instructions

1. Combine first six ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken thighs and toss to coat evenly.

2. Add tomatoes and chicken broth to slow cooker. Top with seasoned chicken thighs. Cover slow cooker and set to high for 4 hours.

3. After 3 1/2  hours, stir contents in the slow cooker briefly and return lid. Add olive oil to a saute pan and cook shallots with garlic for about 5 minutes or until just turning brown. Add to slow cooker along with butternut squash, and dried apricots. Replace lid and continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

4. After cooking time is complete, place in a large casserole or other serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve immediately with tricolored couscous.

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