I’m not going to mention brand names, but there are definitely some French bread pizzas out there in your grocer’s freezer cabinet. Thing is, I can promise they don’t taste as good as my recipe, and they cost more. And that is before we begin to talk about the things those brands add to their pizzas that definitely are not in mine.
Plus, if you are concerned about food waste, this is a great recipe for you. The heat of the oven softens and crisps even day old French bread into mouthwatering goodness and it is a great way to use up ends of pesto, tomato sauce and veggies that might be hiding in your fridge or freezer. Of course this recipe works very well with fresh French bread too!
You need to slice the French bread in half lengthwise, and then cut it into serving size pieces. Sometimes I slice a tiny bit off the crusty top part of the bread to make the slices lie flat on the baking sheet – otherwise they wobble round and the fillings can fall off, which is frustrating, especially if you are hungry.
So slice your portions of French bread as big or small as you want. (By the way, after they are cooked, you can slice these pizzas in hors d’oeuvres size thinner slices, but you need to use a lot less topping – otherwise they are too hard to eat one handed as finger food.) However, my family’s favourite way to eat them is for a quick and easy casual meal, picking up the long slices with two hands and digging in!
Put the French bread slices on a baking sheet and preheat your oven to about 375℉ (190℃ or 170 to 180℃ for a fan oven).
Spread the bread slices with some tomato sauce – or you can use leftover salsa if you like your pizza a bit spicy- and some pesto if you have it.
In terms of toppings, the only limit is your imagination. This is also a great way to let your kids help in the kitchen by topping their own French Bread Pizzas (which they are also much more likely to eat if they have made them ‘by themselves’).
You can use roast vegetables you already have in your fridge for these pizzas, or you can thinly slice raw onions, peppers, and tomatoes. I suggest thin slices because if you are not using already cooked vegetables, the veggies need to cook lightly, and as these pizzas only take about 15 minutes to cook up, thin slices work better.
This is also a great way to use up ends of deli marinated artichokes, peppers, sun dried tomatoes and even olives. Just slice everything up thinly and spread it over the tomato sauce (and pesto if using).
You can add bits of pineapple if you like pineapple on pizza (sadly I’m not a fan). You can even use up leftover niblet corn.
As for cheese, don’t feel you have to use the traditional mozzarella. Any meltable vegetarian cheese (or combination thereof) is fine. I’ve used vegetarian cheddar mixed with mozzarella, or a bit of Swiss or Gruyere cheese, and my son is a huge fan of using vegetarian Pepper Jack cheese on his French bread pizza. Grated cheese works well, but thin slices melt okay too, and can make the pizzas look really interesting.
Once you have topped the pizzas, being careful not to over-top as it can make them wobbly, transfer the baking sheet(s) to the oven and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is beginning to melt and turn golden brown. Carefully remove them from the oven and let them sit for a couple of minutes as the cheese will be absolutely piping hot. Seriously, I learned just how hot from bitter experience – you don’t want anyone burning their mouths!
Serve with a crisp green salad and, depending on what toppings you have used, you are ticking quite a few nutritional boxes with this meal, as well as using up your leftovers, eating something scrumptious and taking quick and easy to a whole new level. Happy Meatless Monday everyone!