Growing up, my family and I enjoyed pizzas most Friday nights. We would gather in the TV room, my sister and I on the emerald green carpet and my parents on the two-person sofa, watching Family Matters, Boy Meets World and Step-by-Step. We would laugh until we cried, not always at the corny sitcoms but at the jokes we made with each other. I still love spending time with my parents and sister like that. I doubt that will ever change. My hope, deep in my heart, is that I can help create similar memories for my family. The kind of memories that make us all remember that we are blessed to be able to act like the crazy, weird people we are without shame. I think French bread pizza might be the answer.
This is one of the easiest meals that I routinely make for dinner. Lately, it has been appearing on the dinner table once a week, usually on the nights when I know Brad will be working late. Any time I see some nice French bread at the grocery store, I go ahead and buy it so I can put it in the freezer for the next French bread pizza night. Then there's shredded mozzarella cheese, which I try to keep around always, and pizza sauce. This may surprise some of you, but I use store-bought pizza sauce. Sometimes that's just the way to go. For sanity's sake.
From start to finish, these pizzas take barely 10 minutes to put together and there are hardly any dishes to clean up afterwards. One of my favorite things about meals like this is that they act like a blank canvas. You can add vegetables that need to be used up, like broccoli florets or baby spinach, or leftover roast chicken. You can be as creative or as simple as you like. The classic combination of sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil never gets old in my opinion, and I often sprinkle red pepper flakes on top of my pizza. Or hot sauce. Lots of delicious hot sauce.
Having friends over for dinner? Why not make a variety of toppings available so everyone can make their own French bread pizzas? Pizza and beer cannot be a bad thing for a party.
I've been thinking about why pizza nights are always so much fun and I think I know the answer. It's because no one has to spend a ton of time preparing food, doing dishes, or generally stressing over what to have for dinner. Everyone is relaxed and happy. I may not be right about many things, but I'm pretty sure I'm right about that.
French Bread Pizza + Basil
Makes 4 Servings
- 1 loaf sourdough French bread
- 1 cup pizza sauce
- 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- course salt
- 1 garlic clove
- fresh basil, chopped or cut into strips
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- Begin by preheating the broiler.
- Cut the bread in half the short way, then cut each half again as though you were going to make a sandwich. Brush the cut sides with the olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt. Place the bread on a baking sheet and put under the broiler until the bread is lightly golden. Rub the cut sides of the bread with the garlic clove.
- Next, spoon some pizza sauce on each piece of bread then sprinkle with the cheese. Return to the oven under the broiler and, watching closely, cook until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Sprinkle the cooked pizza with fresh basil and red pepper flakes. Serve and enjoy!