English Muffin Pizzas

 

When Autumn was a toddler, I spent a fortune on palm sized frozen pizzas at Whole Foods. Like most kids, she wanted pizza for lunch, making these small pizzas the perfect choice when it was just her eating; her little brother Finn is no different. This time around, I have devised a homemade version of lunch sized pizzas that I assemble 12 at a time and freeze. They can be baked in about 10-15 minutes in a toaster or regular over. The only problem is that they are so good the kids, the father and the babysitters are eating them for dinner too…

I believe our bagel eating culture has lost sight of the practical and delicious English Muffin. They deserve to be revisited for both breakfast and lunch. Although I would normally opt for the whole grain version for health, the dough used to make white English Muffins is very similar to Ciabatta dough; resulting in a crackling crust and an even more holey, moist interior. The whole wheat has a less holey texture. English Muffins are the perfect serving size and many brands are offering whole wheat and high fiber options. Once baked as pizzas, the bottom remains crunchy and the interior soaks up the tomato and cheese. I did have to make one modification to these makeshift pizzas after several rounds. Once baked with a slippery sauce and cheese, they were too tall and the topping often slid off in Finn’s little grip. I solved this problem by taking a fork to the interior of each English Muffin and scraping out about 1 tablespoon of bread, making a little bowl for the sauce and cheese to settle in. (The one cup of breadcrumbs that you create can be frozen for another use, such as sautéed in a pan with minced garlic, olive oil and salt and used for a pasta topping or incorporated into meatballs.)

The sauce was also something I had to work on. If I was going to freeze these is large quantities, I needed to make them appeal to everyone. As I have mentioned before, Autumn does not like tomato sauce but, she adores Neapolitan style pizza and the fresh tasting tomato topping. The sauce I have devised is convenient and has a fresh tomato taste and resembles the sauce used on Autumn’s favorite Neopolitan pizza. I think it screams for some fresh basil….

For the cheese, I try to use mainly mozzarella for its melting qualities. However, every time I have made these, I end up cleaning out the cheese drawer of odds and ends. Whether it is a bit or Swiss, Cheddar or Pecorino Romano, just make sure the random cheeses are evenly distributed with the melting cheeses like mozzarella.

Whether you need a quick pizza for one or individual pizzas with custom toppings, preheat oven to 425 degrees and bake frozen pizzas until golden. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven and it will make the crust even crunchier.

 Do Ahead

The sauce needs about 20-30 minutes for the flavors to distribute.

Assemble English Muffin pizzas on a large cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour to let the pizzas freeze completely. Once frozen, place pizzas in large plastic container or bag with parchment paper between the layers and freeze until needed.

Ingredients

1 package of whole wheat English Muffins

(I use whole wheat Matthew’s or Rudi’s. Both have decent fiber and protein)

3-4 cups shredded cheese, mostly mozzarella

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes-preferably Organic Muir Glen, strained

1/2 t. sugar

1 small clove garlic, minced

pinch of Italian seasoning, or fresh basil

olive oil

salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Strain canned tomatoes and press them lightly with the back of the spoon to mash and remove some liquid. Let sit for a few minutes until the juice is running slower. Dump tomatoes into a bowl. Stir in sugar, garlic, pinch of salt and dried Italian seasoning or chopped fresh basil. Let this sauce sit for 20-30 minutes. Taste for salt and seasoning.
  2. Cut open English Muffins and with a fork, scrap out about 1 tablespoon of bread from center (reserve bread for homemade bread crumbs, you will have about 1 cup).
  3. Lay out “crusts” on a cookie sheet and drizzle them with olive oil.
  4. Once the sauce has sat for 20-30 minutes, top and gently mash about  1 T of sauce onto each “crust”.
  5. Top each pizza with cheese and any other toppings you can get away with.
  6. Place cookie sheet in the freezer to prefreeze pizzas before stacking for longer-term storage.
  7. Cook pizzas as needed in preheated 425 degree oven.

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