Over the past few weeks, I’ve been posting about my adventures in cheese-making. Let’s be honest, most of that cheese goes straight into our tummies without ever making it into a recipe. It’s just so darn good! But I have had a chance to make some really yummy dishes with fresh mozzarella, including one of my favorites: semi-homemade french bread pizza.
I love semi-homemade recipes. You have all the satisfaction of doing it yourself but it only takes half as long. Plus, you can cut the costs (prepared food = $$$), and who among us isn’t at least a *little* cheap.
Of course, if you want to, you can make the dough for this french bread pizza from scratch too. That’s a great option if anyone in your family has gluten allergies, since you get to control the ingredients, and it’s also a great option for using the whey left over from making cheese.
To make my version of semi-homemade french bread pizza, you need a loaf of french bread, a large can of petite cut tomatoes (or two small cans), garlic, 1 small onion, olive oil, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese. You can also add some of your favorite toppings.
I start by making the sauce. You could used your favorite canned variety, but I like the taste and chunkiness of making it myself. Add a little olive oil to a large frying pan and add your garlic and chopped onion.
When I was making this batch, I actually opted not to use onion since I didn’t have any in the house and didn’t feel like running to the store. This happens to me often: I get a hankerin’ for something but don’t have all the ingredients, so I improvise. My best example of this was the time I was making chocolate pie and it became Chocolate Coffee Pie. I like to think of myself as…creative.
Yeah, that’s it. Creative.
Anyway, once your garlic is toasty and your onion is translucent, it’s time to add the tomatoes.
You want one of the large cans (28 oz) or two of the smaller cans (15 oz each). If you’re using fresh tomatoes, eyeball it! I like to by the petite cut with basil and oregano if I can find it. Use whatever you like best and throw in some extra spices or even some hot sauce to kick it up a notch if that’s what your family likes.
Get it a-bubblin’ and cover to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
In the meantime, clean your basil by washing and picking the leaves off the stems. You also want to cut the bread in half like you were going to make one huge sandwich and then cut each piece into thirds. Arrange onto a baking sheet.
This is also the time to cut your chunk of cheese into think slices. You don’t have to make homemade cheese if you don’t want to. Definitely go for the chunks of fresh mozzarella instead of the pre-cut slices or shredded. It just tastes better.
For this recipe, you need about 1/2 pound of cheese.
Once the tomatoes have had some time to cook, take off the cover to allow the liquid to reduce a little (about 5 minutes) and if you are using regular diced or stewed tomatoes instead of the petite cut, use a fork or potato masher to squish them a bit so it’s more sauce-like.
Tear the basil leaves and add to the mixture.
Allow to cook for 3-5 more minutes, then carefully spoon onto your bread. Add any other toppings you like (chicken, bits of cooked hamburger or sausage, sauteed mushrooms, peppers, olives, etc.) and end with two or three slices of cheese on top. Drizzle with olive oil.
Put the tray of pizzas under the broiler (on low) for 5-10 minutes, just long enough for the cheese to get melty and browned.
YUM! I seriously could eat this for dinner a few times a week. Here’s the printable:
- 1 28-oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon crushed or minced garlic
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 1 package fresh basil
- 1 loaf French bread
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella cheese
- olive oil for drizzling
- other pizza toppings (optional)
- Add garlic and onion to large pan with a small amount of olive oil. Cool over medium high heat until onions are translucent.
- Add tomatoes to pan. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Cut bread in half lengthwise and then cut each half into thirds. Arrange on a baking sheet, crust side down.
- Cut cheese into thin slices.
- Uncover sauce to reduce the liquid for about 5 minutes, then rid the basil into pieces and add to the mixture. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
- Divide the sauce evenly onto bread slices. Add other toppings if desired and cover with cheese.
- Drizzle with olive oil and put under the broiler on low for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and browned.
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