Leftover Love: Roasted Chicken, Broccoli and Lemon-Thyme Ricotta Calzones

calzones finished2I can see now that “Leftover Love” is a recurring theme, as I’m often inspired by leftovers from one meal—or whatever is left in my pantry—to make something new. Is this true for you as well?

Today’s leftover revamp is a quick and easy way to use up meat and veggies in a fun little package. Yes, it’s the beloved calzone, made even easier by using purchased pizza dough for those extra busy days.

This version is composed of leftover pan-roasted chicken breast and some roasted broccoli crowns from a meal we enjoyed earlier in the week, plus a mixture of lemon, thyme, ricotta and shredded mozzarella. Place the ingredients into your rolled out pizza dough, seal, bake, add some homemade or purchased low-salt marinara sauce as a side and voilà! You’ve got dinner.

Certainly you could use purchased rotisserie chicken if you like, or substitute spinach for broccoli—or use all vegetables for a vegetarian version. In this instance, I was quite pleased with how the lemon, thyme, creamy ricotta and mozzarella mixture gave a wonderful boost of fresh flavor to the simply seasoned chicken (salt, pepper and rosemary) and roasted broccoli. The smell of these baking was tantalizing and they came out of the oven puffed, piping hot and oozing cheesy goodness.

Want to make these into a fun little appetizer? Just divide your dough into 16 -1 oz. portions, dollop a heaping teaspoon of the cheese mixture, one crown of broccoli and a bite of chicken into each rolled out mini calzone circle, seal, bake and use your marinara as a dipping sauce. Delicious, bite-sized party fun!

Got a little more time on your hands for calzone and marinara sauce making? Click on this link to check out my previously posted Kale Calzones with Spicy Homemade Marinara.

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Chicken, Broccoli and Lemon-Thyme Ricotta Calzones
Makes 10 Medium-sized Calzones

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmigiana Reggiano cheese, grated
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper
The meat of one roasted chicken breast, sliced thinly crosswise
2 cups roasted broccoli crowns
1 lb. uncooked pizza dough
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, warmed
olive oil for oiling the pan and brushing the calzones

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with sides in aluminum foil and lightly oil it with olive oil. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmigiana Reggiano, thyme, lemon zest and juice, the mozzarella and the salt and pepper, and mix by hand until well blended and fairly smooth.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and lightly flour your hands and a rolling pin. Divide your pizza dough into 10 equal portions. Roll each piece of dough out to be an approximately 5-6 inch circle. (Do the best you can…pizza dough is stretchy! I usually do these one at a time.) Place 1/10th  (about 2 tablespoons) of the ricotta mixture into one half of the circle. Next, layer 2-3 slices of the chicken breast (1/10th of your total slices) over the ricotta, then top with 3-4 broccoli crowns. Carefully pull one side of the circle of dough over to meet the other side, gently stretching it to cover the filling and pinching the two edges together to form a crescent. Press the seam firmly closed around the outer curved edges. Crimp the edges of the dough to seal it, pushing it back onto itself as you would with piecrust dough. Repeat this procedure with each piece of dough and the fillings until you have 10 calzones, placing each calzone carefully onto the oiled baking sheet as you finish them. Lightly brush the tops of the finished calzones with some olive oil applied to your fingers. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes watching carefully, until the calzones are browned on top and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and allow them to sit for 3 minutes. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

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36 thoughts on “Leftover Love: Roasted Chicken, Broccoli and Lemon-Thyme Ricotta Calzones

  1. Oh yeah, now that’s what I’m talking about… They look fabulous! I’m totally for using leftovers or whatever you happen to find in your fridge. I need to try these, I know that everyone in my house would love them… Brilliant!! I love your photo presentation too!! 🙂

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  2. Using pizza bases to make a calzone is such a great idea. I’d have never thought of it! And I do love how you’ve made these with leftovers – what a great ‘leftovers’ meal – so full of flavour! xx

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  3. Leftovers , shempovers. they are previously cooked foods. Most meals I cook start with previously cooked foods and them I add new stuff. joe

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    • I usually think of leftovers as yes, previously cooked foods, but foods that I cooked myself from scratch. I’m not a huge fan of what I perceive to be “previously cooked foods” by someone else because I don’t know what exactly is in them, though I do resort to canned low salt tomatoes, beans, stocks and some breads on a regular basis. 🙂 Regardless, added something new to revamp or refresh and extend a meal is always a good thing in my book.

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  4. I love leftovers and intentionally cook extra so that I can get two meals (hopefully different ones) from one! I often make pizza but never calzone – thanks for a timely reminder to make this delicious dish soon 🙂

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    • I do the exact same thing, Tanya, sometimes just to have the same meal again, though often one or more components may end up in a frittata or, as here, a calzone, or in a soup. And also, like you, I usually make pizza, but I hadn’t made calzones in some time, so this was particularly fun and enjoyable to eat. 🙂

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  5. I do that too Betsy, recreating the left overs into something new and very different than the original recipe! In fact, tonights dinner will be a new rendition of the roast turkey we had last night! Blogging is a nice way to record these impromptu recipes so that you can recreate it again, and this one sure looks like a winner. Using the pizza dough is a great idea too! The Ricotta cheese mixture sounds like a wonderful base, I’m licking my lips as I type this.

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    • The ricotta mixture definitely made the calzone, Eva. It was a perfect marriage of flavors, and reminded me of how much I love ricotta cheese anyway. Don’t know why I don’t use it more, in fact! Can’t wait to see what you make from your leftover turkey. 🙂

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      • Hi Betsy, I made a turkey green curry the other night and although it was rather tasty, it was not blogable because the night-time photos are awful and I may have forgotten to take the photo!
        Your weather looks absolutely awful, I’m sorry so many people are stranded on the roads; I suspect that they really don’t know how to handle the snow driving since you generally don’t get much. Hope you’re keeping warm.

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        • Hi Eva, we all joke amongst ourselves down here about how the city becomes paralyzed at the mere mention of the word snow. But the fact is that our snow is quite wet, so when it hits the pavement it immediately turns into sheets of ice, then further compacted by all the traffic we have here (too much). Driving on ice is much harder than on snow, and we don’t have the resources down here to melt it or deal with it very well. Yesterday 4 million people…adults and kids…left work and school at about the same time, as we were only predicted to MAYBE have some flurries, and then it changed. And what you see on the news is what our normal rush hour looks like, but with trucks jackknifed and cars frozen and stuck to the road. It hasn’t gotten above 20 degrees, so it will probably continue until tomorrow when we’re supposed to get above freezing. I feel so badly for everyone stuck out there for almost 24 hours now. We are home safe as we work from home, and are warm. Thanks so much for your concern. 🙂 Green curry sounds wonderful!

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          • That does sound awful Betsey, I’m glad you’re safe and warm. Ice is really difficult to travel on, even by foot. We had some awful times just prior to Christmas so the pain of it is still fresh.
            We do get a lot of snow but it never ceases to amaze me every first snow fall how stupidly most drivers deal with it. It’s really quite ridiculous!

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  6. Dear God those looks good Betsy. I’ve never had a good calzone – every restaurant I’ve been to always makes terribly boring calzones out of just a regular margharita pizza folded over! I want MORE from my calzone… something delicious inside like this!

    By the way, I love your header image – are they real berries? It looks so darn colourful!

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    • Thank you so much, Charles, I’m so pleased that you like these. The lemon-thyme ricotta mixture really makes this calzone. I like it so much I’m going to experiment with it further in other applications. 😉

      The berries on the header are not real,it’s part of a wreath on our front door and I love the winter look of it, especially against the newly painted red door (it was aqua before our lightning incident last year.) I’m so glad you like it. I think we need some color during this wintery time of year. 🙂

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  7. I just found your blog and as soon as I saw “leftover love” I had to comment- I love leftovers! They’re such a great way to save money. I do “leftover makeovers” all the time 🙂 Everything I’ve read from you looks great so far- looking forward to reading more! Feel free to check out my blog anytime, I write about living an organic lifestyle on a budget- something leftovers help me do tremendously! This calzone looks DELICIOUS.

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    • Hi Jennifer, and welcome to my blog. Thanks for your great comment and I’m glad you’re a “leftover lover” too! 🙂 I, too, buy organic whenever I can afford it and am a believer in trying herbal remedies whenever possible. So we have a lot in common! Love your blog, too and am now following you. So glad to “meet” you.

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