Quick Gourmet Pizzas from Leftovers
One of the challenges of having many children close together in age is that they all hit the teenage years at the same time. Now, three of our four children are boys and if you have any boy teens, you know that they are going through massive growth spurts and physical changes. That means that most of their day is filled with eating: breakfast, after breakfast snack, mid-morning snack, pre-lunch, lunch, after-lunch dessert, mid-afternoon snack, mini-meal, late-afternoon snack…and I could go on and on.
Needless to say, I had to find clever ways to extend our meal budget to feed them while still trying to provide a semblance of healthful foods.
One of the ways I did this was to have a “leftover” pizza night almost each week. Whenever we had any leftover meat, whether it was roast beef, chicken or even lunchmeat, I would quickly hover over it, claiming it as my own for tomorrow night’s dinner. In the same way that Gollum would huddle over “my precious,” when there was a lull in the dinner feasting, I would quickly swoop in with my arms, cradling the main course and say, “Dinner is over and I am saving My Precious for another meal tomorrow! Sure, you can have thirds, just not of this. Look…there are perfectly good string beans in that bowl over there!”
And I would wrap up and mark my hoarded meat for tomorrow night. [DO NOT EAT!! MOM’S]
Years ago, I started a list of meals made from extra beef or chicken for times just like this, when we had (forced) leftovers.
One of my favorites was Margherita pizza. It was inexpensive, fresh, easy-to-make, and delicious!
Here’s one I made recently using sliced roast beef.
The basic ingredients are:
Pizza dough (three small loaves) Roast beef slices (about ½ pound) 1 large bag fresh spinach 3 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced ½ onion sliced into slivers 2 tbsps chopped garlic 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar 2 tbsps olive oil 8 ounces goat cheese
For the pizza dough, I used one package of Rhodes frozen bread dough. Follow the package directions to thaw (it takes about 2 ½ hours at room temperature). When I have time, I make my own pizza dough. It’s easy and much less expensive. If you do a search on Pinterest, I’m sure you will find lots of recipes to choose from. You also can buy fresh pizza dough at most grocery stores, too.
Once your dough is thawed, oil two large cookie sheets. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (Note: depending on your oven and where you live, temperature may need to be adjusted.)
Take one of the loaves and split it in half, adding each half to one of the other two loaves. This will make two larger pizzas instead of three small ones. I find it is helpful to add some oil to your hands so that they don’t stick to the dough. If you use flour, it just makes the pizza crust dryer. Take each lump of dough and gently begin to stretch it out in the air with your hands. Hold one side at a time, allowing gravity to pull the dough down. As you move your hands across the edges of the dough, it should begin to more easily stretch out. Once it is about half the size of your cookie sheet, place the dough down on it and continue to stretch it out to form a large rectangle (it takes a little work, but it will eventually spread out). Repeat with the other ball of dough. Lightly cover dough with a towel until time to put toppings on.
Don’t worry if your dough doesn’t stretch all the way to the edges of the pan. As it rises, it will.
For the toppings, add a little olive oil into a skillet, and heat to medium temperature. Add onions and garlic and saute’. Now add the spinach and sliced roast beef, stirring until the spinach has wilted.
Evenly distribute the meat mixture over the two pizzas. Add sliced fresh tomatoes. Now sprinkle balsamic vinegar over the top, then the crumbled goat cheese. Bake pizzas in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until edges are browned and cheese just begins to get toasted on the edges.
If you want to cook both pizzas at the same time, you can place one on a top rack and the other on a lower rack of your oven. Then switch them after about 15 minutes of cooking. You just need to watch them more closely if you do this. I had to do it this way because my kids would go through both pizzas so quickly that I needed them to be done at the same time!
The beauty of this “recipe” is that it can be so easily modified. You can change the meat to chicken, ground beef or shredded pork. You can leave the meat out altogether. You can swap the spinach with sweet bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, or whatever veggies you have on hand. You can add pizza sauce. You can change up the cheese with mozzarella or cheddar. One of our family favorites is to use shredded chicken, add barbecue sauce, and top with cheddar cheese. You can go Tex-Mex by adding salsa instead of pizza sauce.
I like to add spinach on most of my pizzas because once it is cooked down, it is almost invisible among the other toppings. But it adds a great boost of nutrition.
Have fun experimenting with the combinations. You will be extending your food budget and making something that is always fun to eat!