Warm cheesy and slightly garlicky pizza on a French bread crust topped with fresh salad, mushrooms, and grape tomatoes. A quick and easy recipe that is both delicious and relatively healthy for lunch or dinner.
I’ve been craving pizza. Not the typical pepperoni or combo pizza. I wanted one with fresh ingredients; maybe arugula, or farm egg, or butternut squash. But to go to a pizza parlor that specializes in these fresh ingredients means that the pizzas will be relatively expensive. So what better way to satisfy my craving than to make my own? I have most of these ingredients in my kitchen. All I really need is the crust.
I know I’m writing a food blog and sharing recipes, but I also love anything that is quick and easy. Sometimes, after a long day, I really don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen. As much as I love cooking, if I’m tired and hungry, I want to make dinner as quickly as possible so that I can start eating. This recipe is perfect for that. It’s quick and easy yet still delicious and healthy. Warm melted mozzarella cheese and a delicious spicy Italian seasoned garlic sauce on a thick slice of French bread topped with sliced grape tomatoes, thinly cut mushrooms, and a spring mix salad drizzled with citrusy balsamic vinaigrette. If you want, you can add or replace ingredients too. It’s that easy.
The recipe will look overwhelming because there’s a whole list of ingredients, but it’s really simple. I promise. Most of the ingredients just require mixing them together and stirring.
While you’re eating this delicious meal, you’re also getting your Vitamin A from the veggies, Vitamin C from the blackberries, and calcium from the cheese. Isn’t that perfect?
First, make the spicy white garlic sauce. Start by mincing garlic cloves. The amount in this recipe will give the pizza a garlic flavor, but it will not be overwhelming. If you prefer a more garlicky taste, you can add more garlic cloves.
In a skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium to low heat. After about half a minute to a minute, add the minced garlic and stir with a spatula. Keep an eye on the garlic. It will take a couple minutes for the garlic to turn a golden brown, but you don’t want the garlic to heat up so fast that it burns. Burnt garlic will taste very bitter.
In a small bowl, mix the heavy whipping cream with half a teaspoon of flour. The flour will help thicken the sauce. Make sure to stir well to dissolve the flour in the heavy whipping cream, otherwise, the flour will clump up and become gelatinous in random places. Once the flour has dissolved, pour the mixture into the skillet with the garlic. Add in the crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt. Stir well over medium to low heat until the sauce thickens. Then set the sauce aside.
Preheat the oven at 350oF while you make the pizza.
Now, start on the pizza. I used French bread that I bought from Safeway; the fresher the bread, the better. Bread that just came out of the oven will be softer. That’s what we want since we’ll be toasting the bread. If we use bread that’s already hard, it will only get harder and might be too tough to bite. I sliced the bread into thirds. Then I sliced each third in half lengthwise. For this recipe, I only used a third of the loaf of French bread, but the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
And yes, I know something is wrong with this bread. For some reason, all of the French bread at Safeway looked like that. I have no experience baking a loaf of bread so I’m not sure what might have been wrong with it. Maybe it’s the yeast.
Divide the white sauce between the two halves of bread. It will be just enough to cover both of them. I also chopped off the rounded end to make the pizza look more rectangular.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese onto both slices of bread, about a ¼ cup each.
Cut and slice one large mushroom into very thin slices. This will be enough for two servings. However, if you love mushrooms, go ahead and cut more. But make sure to slice the mushroom thin, that way it will cook faster in the oven.
Slice about ½ cup of grape tomatoes into thirds. This will ensure that the tomatoes are thin enough to cook through fast.
Now, you have two options. If you prefer your vegetables to be thoroughly cooked, place the slices of mushrooms and tomatoes on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350oF for 5 minutes. This will soften the vegetables first. Then place the cooked mushrooms and tomatoes onto the bread. If you prefer your vegetables a little bit more raw and undercooked, like I do, go ahead and place the mushrooms and tomatoes onto the bread. Then place the bread slices onto a foil lined baking sheet.
Bake the bread in the oven at 350oF for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through and the cheese has melted. Every oven is different so if needed, you can bake the bread less or more.
While the bread is baking, make the fresh salad. I used Earthbound Spring Mix salad because I like having a mix of vegetables. If you prefer a certain vegetable, you can use that instead. If you like arugula or spinach or kale, use those instead. It’s very easy to substitute ingredients in this recipe.
For the citrusy balsamic vinaigrette, I mixed 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons orange juice, ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. I prefer to use freshly squeezed orange juice because it’s naturally sweet and sour so it has more flavor.
Drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over the salad to taste. Or if you prefer, you can also use your favorite dressing.
Remove the bread from the oven. The tomatoes will now appear more wilted and the mushrooms will have softened.
I added more cheese just because I like melted cheese. You can stick it back into the oven for extra minute to allow the cheese to melt, but the heat from the tomatoes should melt the cheese.
Top the cheesy, garlicky pizza with the fresh salad and add more tomatoes if you have some left over.
Plate the cheesy garlic pizza. I added blackberries on the side with mint. If there is salad leftover, you can also use that as a side.
Serve the pizzas warm! Enjoy!
I know the recipes will look overwhelming when you first see it, but it really isn’t. The spicy white garlic sauce and citrusy balsamic vinaigrette just really require mixing ingredients together. It is worth trying this recipe. You’ll love it.
For a printer friendly version of the recipe, click here.
Click on the image below for an enlarged version of the recipe.