Saturday, February 13, 2010

February 6-7, 2010: Silverbeet calzoni & watermelon salad

We spent some of last weekend with Michael's mum and her husband, Melbourne being one stop on their current driving tour through New South Wales and Victoria. They had booked a pleasant hotel overlooking Princes Park, so on Saturday we ate breakfast with them at Green Refectory and gave them a walking tour of Sydney Road.

On Sunday we headed out to the Dandenongs with a simple plan - they provide the transport, we provide the food, everybody strolls and has a nice afternoon. I took great delight in planning the menu and with Michael's help it wasn't too hard to pull together. We started with crackers and dips - muhammara, sun-dried tomato hummus and beetroot pesto. Then I sprung calzoni on them - that simple pizza dough wrapped around silverbeet, mushrooms, garlic, pine nuts and preserved lemon. (Thanks to Emily for the inspiration!)

For a bit of freshness and something to segue into dessert, I made a watermelon salad. It was a post by Amanda last week that gave me the idea but rather than following her recipe precisely I tried to emulate the watermelon salad I ate a year ago at Hellenic Republic. In that time I've become increasingly irritated by George Columbaris' ubiquitous media presence, but I have to admit: the Dodoni feta he spruiks is the best I've tasted from a supermarket. The salad pleased me enormously, though I found that the watermelon cubes leached a lot of liquid in transit. Between that and the fresh mint leaves it was clear that this salad is best eaten as soon as it's prepared and I happily prioritised it that hot day, going back for thirds and finishing the leftovers for dinner.

And for dessert proper? Near-pure chocolate, of course.

Silverbeet calzoni

Finely chop some silverbeet (stems and leaves), mushrooms and a little preserved lemon. Gently toast some pine nuts in a fry pan until golden. Remove them from the pan, the use the pan to heat a little olive oil. Add some minced garlic and the mushrooms, cooking gently for a few minutes. Add the silverbeet and cook until it's beginning to wilt; perhaps another 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir through the preserved lemon and pine nuts. Set the filling aside to cool.

Prepare a pizza dough and when it's ready to roll, preheat the oven to 180°C. Sprinkle a baking tray with a little cornmeal. Sprinkle a clean bench and a rolling pin with flour and pinch off a small ball of dough - say 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Roll the dough into a thin circle and spoon some of the silverbeet filling onto half of it, leaving a 1.5 cm border. Fold the dough over and pinch together the edges to seal your half-moon calzone; place it on the baking tray. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling, then bake you calzoni until the dough is cooked and a little golden, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Watermelon salad

Slice the flesh of a watermelon into large cubes, removing as many seeds as you can stand to. Place the watermelon in a large bowl and drizzle it with pomegranate molasses and a tiny bit of rosewater. Dice some feta, rip up some mint leaves and toast some flaked almonds. Toss these ingredients through the watermelon only when you're ready to serve the salad.


  1. The unmentioned downside of the day: I promised everyone lyrebirds, which are usually pretty common on the tracks around Sherbrooke, but we left without a glimpse.

  2. I love those recipes - I used to hate watermelon but I think now I could like it enough to try this salad - I agree with you about the dodoni though I didn't know it was george's feta of choice - and the calzone looks fantastic - have you been to rickett's sanctuary in the dandenongs - it is such a lovely place that I keep meaning to return to.

  3. Lovely recipes! I'm a mad-keen for Silverbeet and lovely a good watermelon/feta salad - nice work. Very happy to have found your blog today. Having recently returned to Melbourne after over 10 years in Sydney, it's so great to get tips on where to eat, and it's nice to get some vege recipe ideas whilst I'm here!

  4. Too bad I can't seem to string a sentence together today..... I hope you still get my drift. Basically, love your blog. Will return.

  5. I love watermelon and feta salads, though have never made any with that particular fancy feta! I make a variety with quick pickled red onions, too - from memory, I think it's just a little salt, sugar, and red wine vinegar, left to soften thinly sliced red onions for an hour or so? Adds another nice layer of zing :)

  6. Glad you took up the suggestion! Your calzone looks wonderful and the preserved lemon and pinenuts would give a lovely Middle Eastern vibe to it.
    The watermelon salad looks great as well. Saskia makes a watermelon salad with garlic which seems strange but works surprisingly well(

  7. Johanna, you might like this salad even more if you mixed some green salad leaves in - it is otherwise very heavy on the watermelon! Thanks for the tip on Rickett's sanctuary - I just looked it up and will make sure it's on my itinerary next time I'm in the area.

    Welcome Tresna! Thanks for stopping by - I hope we'll see you here again soon. :-)

    Hannah, I have a MAJOR prejudice against salad onions but... pickling them just might work. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Hi Emily! Yeah, I can imagine those garlic greens working nicely - it would make the salad a proper savoury affair compared to the ambiguity of my version. :-)