Toast Pizza

January 28, 2010 § 2 Comments

This is what we had for lunch today. Toast pizza!

(Re the photography: I really lucked out today with the sunshine, which allowed me to take some nice pictures – it was a brisk, brilliant, cold winter day – just the kind I love for physical work outside.)

Toast pizza is, again, one of my most recent discoveries. It’s a great lunch item, and it has all the flavors of pizza, at least in my mind, but I don’t have to make the crust (which is useful when you’ve got small children dangling off of you like grapes from a vine).

I make my own tomato sauce with my own canned tomatoes, and we grow many tomatoes every year (my sister-in-law, a gardener extraordinaire, is chiefly responsible for that). Those can easily be substituted with canned whole tomatoes from the store – Muir Glen would be my choice. Just pass them through a food processor, together with their canning liquid, until smooth, or use a hand blender. This sauce is also a foundation for my Bolognese-type spaghetti sauce, which is another one of my supper staples. I learned how to make it from The New Basics Cookbook .

Sauce and cheese are my two only toppings, but you can certainly add other things you might enjoy b/w the layers of sauce and cheese. For me, however, two is just enough, plus the sauce is full of all kinds of vegetable matter as it is.

But first, I would like to start with an ode to a pot. This here is an enameled cast iron dutch oven from… no, not Le Creuset – Lodge! This baby here costs $70 (considerably less than your ordinary Le Creuset). Aside from price, it offers two more advantages over the Le Creuset – the walls seem a tad thicker on this one, and also it has a rounded bottom, which, for some reason, I like better. I really, truly love this pot! Note: the lid’s plastic handle is supposedly not heat-proof after a certain temperature if you wish to place it in the oven, at least that’s what the Amazon reviewers have said. Personally I haven’t had any trouble, but I have not baked in it at higher than 350 degrees. I don’t use it for my bread, however, which would be baked at the searing heat of 450 F. In any event, this can be easily remedied by replacing the handle with what you can find at your friendly neighbourhood hardware store.

This is what it looks like on the inside.

Now on to the toast pizza!

Here we have a medium onion, a couple of garlic cloves, a quart jar of canned tomatoes, vegetable oil, tomato paste, Worstershire sauce, red wine, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and dried oregano and basil.

And here we have the cute baby Cyrus.

We’ll also be needing some parsley and a couple of carrots…

…along with some bread and cheese (I prefer cheddar). Just the basics, you know.

Start by peeling the onion and garlic. I don’t usually peel my carrots, just trim off the front and the back ends. My carrots are organic, and, moreover grown by the family we know, so there’s nothing to fear.

I chop the onion by slicing it lengthwise…

…and then crosswise.

I also dice carrots using small dice and chop the garlic.

Then I heat the oil in my nice dutch oven…

…and add the vegetables.

I cook them until they are soft (the garlic will burn a little, but I sort of like the burnt garlic flavor, so I let it)…

…and then add some tomato paste.

Stir it in. Note: You can skip the tomato paste, causing the sauce to have a lighter color and a brighter, instead of a deeper, flavor. It’s every bit as delicious.

Next, I add my pureed tomatoes…

…and some wine (perhaps about 1/2 C) and some Worcestershire sauce (optional).

My friend Jen, who knows all kind of interesting scientific facts about the ways different foods behave, shared with me once that tomatoes need some sugar and some alcohol to bring out their full flavor. Luckily for me, I had been intuitively adding wine to my tomato dishes (chili, spaghetti sauce) for years.

Now’s the time to add some spices – basil, oregano, nutmeg, salt, and black pepper.

Bring everything to a boil, lower the heat to medium (or even low, if it’s still boiling too much), and simmer until the sauce has reduced and become visibly thicker. (The original recipe calls for simmering it covered for the first fifteen minutes, which I sometimes do, and sometimes don’t).

Now chop some parsley…

…add it to the sauce, and simmer for the additional 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, grate some cheese……and slice some bread. Arrange the slices on a cookie sheet. Remember how I told you I was the world’s worst bread slicer? Now you can see for yourself.

Spread the slices with the sauce.

Top with the cheese, and bake in the 350-degree oven until the cheese has melted (about 5 min).

And you’ll get this!

Pizza Toast with More-is-More Tomato Sauce

For the sauce:

  • 1 qt canned tomatoes – homemade or store-bought (I recommend Muir Glen), processed till smooth in a food processor (or use a hand-held blender or even chop them with a knife, if you don’t have either).
  • 2 T tomato paste, optional
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1-2 small carrots, diced finely
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 1 t to 1 T dried basil
  • fresh parsley, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil (I used sunflower – don’t use canola).
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce (optional)

For the pizza:

  • 6 slices of bread
  • a large pile of grated cheddar cheese (roughly 3 C?)

To make the sauce, saute the onions, carrots, and garlic in oil over medium-high heat (you might want to turn the heat down if the garlic is burning too much). You can also add garlic towards the end of the sauteing instead, if you don’t want it to burn. When all the vegetables are tender and began to brown, add tomato paste and stir it in. Add the tomatoes, wine, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, nutmeg, basil, and oregano. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium to low, and simmer until thickened (roughly 25-30 min?). You can choose to simmer it covered for the first 15 min. Try it both ways, then tell me if there’s any difference. Add parsley and simmer for the additional 5 min.

To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place 6 slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Spread with the sauce and top with the cheese. Bake at 350 F for 5 min, or until the cheese has melted. Serve right away.

Note: My friend Jen, who is no stranger to culinary tour-de-force, shared with me that, in making toast pizzas, she toasts the bread first, rubs it with garlic, and brushes it with the olive oil before spreading it with the sauce, which, she said, keeps the bread crispy and prevents it from getting soggy. Definitely try this if you like crispier bread!

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