Hello blog friends! Tim here, the other half of the Hayes Amaze team. I'll be popping in every now and again to write a post, starting with my first installment of Way Too Easy Recipes, a column for food that is quick, easy and light on the pocketbook but not on flavor. Some of these dishes are so easy they barely require a recipe, but you're going to get one anyway because, gosh darn it, you deserve one.
Now I'm no stranger to making fancy things that take all day, look fantastic and are picture perfect for facebook bragging (and I will be sharing some of those recipes with you as well), but I don't always have the time, energy or desire to do that. And for those times, there are things like French Bread pizza. It's a childhood classic that had completely slipped off my radar, but we threw a Halloween party and needed something quick and cheap to feed a bunch of people and this was it. And it was a hit! It immediately took a place of honor in our easy meal pantheon. And now, without further delay, our recipe:
(This recipe is easily scaled up for a crowd and will be a hit if you need quick party food. Trust me on this one.)
French Bread Loaf (We use one to feed the three of us, but one of us is very small, so adjust accordingly)
Tomato or Spaghetti Sauce
Mozzarella Cheese (A little Parmesan is nice, too, if you have it)
Pizza Toppings (Pepperoni, olives, salami, ham, pineapple, onions, peppers, anchovies, really whatever you can agree on.)
Pictured is a one dollar Walmart loaf. It is not great, but for a dollar it is hard to beat. If you cannot find a one dollar Walmart loaf, bakery bought is fine. Just make sure it's decently wide. You don't want a little tiny baguette for this recipe. It will just make everyone sad.
Place an oven rack in the top third of your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. You want it nice and hot to melt the cheese and crisp up the bread.
Remove the bread from the bag. (You probably knew that already)
Use a knife to cut the loaf into top and bottom halves. You now have the canvasses upon which your pizza dreams shall be painted.
Remove the halves of bread to a sheet pan. We made half the loaf early to eat with our toddler and the other half later. They get a little soggy if you let them sit too long before eating. Not bad, but not as good as fresh. Pour some tomato sauce onto the loaf, about a half cup, more or less depending on your taste, and spread it around with the back of a spoon. I used some strained tomato sauce, but a spaghetti sauce like Newman's is also quite good. Whatever is on sale is best.
Get your cheese. I used grated mozzarella and a grated "Italian blend". If you don't have grated cheese, grating it yourself is fine.
Apply a good layer of cheese to the pizza. If you live with a child this is a good time to have them help. If you do not have a child, it is not necessary to get one for this step.
Prepare your toppings. Here we have some Safeway salami and some Grocery Outlet pepperoni. Your toppings may look different. Do not be alarmed if this is the case.
Begin applying your toppings. I like to place them in a neat, symmetrical fashion but this is unnecessary and speaks more to my persnicketyness than to the recipe. Here we have a layer of pepperoni.
And here we have an interlocking layer of salami. Again, it is not necessary to be so fussy when laying out your toppings. That's my problem, not yours.
Now that your toppings are laid, I like to dust the top with a layer of cheese. Parmesan is good here, or more mozzarella or some cheddar. I tell myself that this layer helps keep the toppings secured to the pizza, but it really just looks nice and it crisps up right good. Mmmmm, crispy cheese.
Place your pizza in the top third of your preheated oven and close the door. You will note some excess cheese on the pan, I blame my child helper for this. Set your timer for seven minutes. The pizza should take about ten, but I always like to check. Burned pizza makes for a sad family.
Your pizza is done with the cheese is melty and starting to brown, and the crust on the ends has turned a dark, dark brown and crisped about the edges. Don't be afraid to let it get pretty dark, but you do need to watch it carefully at this point. Remove the pizza when it is done to your liking and let sit on some trivets for a couple minutes.
When your pizza has cooled to the point that there is no longer a danger of burning yourself, remove it to a cutting board and cut into slices with a knife. A pizza wheel really won't do for this, the bread is just too thick. And now it is time to enjoy! Dust it with parmesan, maybe sone red pepper, grab yourself a beer, root or otherwise and eat! This is an informal dish, best enjoyed in the company of loved ones and perhaps with a family movie playing in the background.
There you have it, folks! The very first installment of "Way Too Easy Recipes" is in the books! Let us know what you think, and, as always, stay tuned for more great content from the Hayes Amaze team!