Easy Peasy Pizzas: Deep South Tuna Melt Flatbread “Pizza” and Variations

IMG_4425

Tuna Melt Flatbread Pizza “all the way!”

 

I don’t know why it took me so long to realize that a tuna melt and a pizza could truly become one, but necessity has often been the mother of invention in my kitchen. Recently, at the end of a very busy work day I was trying to talk myself out of making dinner when suddenly I spied some very thin flatbread waving at me from my fridge.

Well, pizza is always a fall back position, isn’t it? And I’ve become very fond of using thin and less caloric flatbreads to make quick and easy pizzas—but I had no sauce, no mozzarella, no pesto…none of the ingredients that I usually use for pizza.

What I did have on hand was a couple of eggs, some celery, a bit of leftover red onion, a nub of extra sharp cheddar and a can of tuna. Since mayo and sweet pickle relish are almost always in my pantry, I knew I had the makings of my “Deep South” style tuna salad and, if I used the flatbread and cheese, a tuna melt. Thus, my Deep South Tuna Melt Flatbread Pizza was born.

Now I’ll back up to say that I make this tuna salad a lot and in the past we’ve almost always eaten it as a salad. So imagine my surprise when my tuna melt pizza turned out to be so good that we’ve had it three times since then—the second time with a little baby arugula sprinkled on top to add a “green salad” component…delicious! And you know what? I like this Deep South Tuna Melt Flatbread Pizza better than a regular tuna melt on sliced bread any day. The crispy and thin flatbread is a perfect foil for this approach. It’s where tartine and pizza meet.

This makes a hearty and complete meal unto itself with one flatbread pizza per person, and any leftover tuna salad can be used for the next meal. Since there are just two of us and the tuna salad recipe makes four servings, we had the leftover tuna salad plated on a bed of arugula alongside a cup of soup for dinner the next night. Tuna salad is also wonderful stuffed inside a homegrown summer tomato.

The recipe below is for two pizzas, but to make four, simply double the pizza part of the recipe and use all of the tuna salad divided evenly between the four flatbreads. Just one of you to feed? No problem. Half the tuna salad recipe and the flatbread pizza recipe. Have your pizza one night and tuna salad plate the next!

 

Roll your cursor over each photo for captions or click on any photo for a slideshow.

For a printable recipe, click here.

Deep South Tuna Melt Flatbread Pizza
Makes 2 Flatbread Pizzas plus 2 extra servings of Tuna Salad

For the Deep South Tuna Salad:
1 – 5 oz. can water packed tuna (preferably no salt added), drained and flaked
2 – hard boiled eggs, peeled and grated on the large side of a box grater
3-4 stalks of celery, washed, trimmed and diced small (about 1 cup)
1 cup sweet red onion, diced small
1/4 cup drained sweet pickle relish (I use Wickles relish)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I use Duke’s Mayonnaise)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
More salt and pepper to taste, if needed

For the Pizza:
1/2 recipe of Deep South Tuna Salad (about 2 cups)
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
2 thin flatbreads such as Flatout brand rustic white artisan thin pizza crust
Optional baby arugula for finishing

To make the tuna salad, combine all of the tuna salad ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine well, making sure the mayonnaise lightly coats all of the ingredients. You want all of the ingredients to be just moistened, but not too wet. Divide the tuna salad in half and use half of it for the pizzas below and store the remaining half in a covered bowl in the fridge to use for another meal. Leftover tuna salad will keep for up to two days in the fridge.

Preheat the oven (and a pizza stone if you use one) according to the flatbread package directions, or 375 degrees F. Even if you don’t use Flatout flatbread pizza crusts which recommend a pre-bake, I’d recommend pre-baking your flatbread before adding toppings to crisp them up a bit. Pre-bake the crusts for 3 minutes, or until they just barely start to color. I use a pizza stone and transfer the flatbread from a pizza peel to the stone, but using a cookie sheet for pre-baking and the final bake instead is fine.

Once pre-baked, remove the flatbreads from the oven with the peel (or leave them on the cookie sheet) and top each crust with half of the tuna salad, dividing it evenly between the two crusts, smoothing it out into a thin layer and leaving about a 1/4 inch border all around the edges. Divide the cheese evenly between the two pizzas, sprinkling 1/2 cup of the cheese over the tuna salad on each.

If using a preheated pizza stone and peel, transfer the topped pizzas to the pizza stone with the peel, or return the cookie sheet to the oven, and bake for about 6-7 minutes for Flatout crusts, or until the edges of the flatbread crusts are light brown and crispy and the cheese is melted and bubbling. I usually turn on the broiler for a minute or less, to finish browning my crust and to get the cheese a little more golden. Watch it very carefully if you do this and do not let the cheese or crusts burn. When the pizzas are done to your liking, remove them from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. If you’re using arugula, arrange a few leaves down the center of each pizza. Cut each pizza into four slices with a pizza cutter and serve.

Note: As an alternative or in addition to topping your pizza with arugula, you can add about 1/4 cup of chopped heirloom tomato on top of the tuna salad on each pizza, then proceed with the cheese and baking.

Quick Flatbread Pizza Variations: Use Swiss cheese instead of cheddar on your tuna melt and proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.

Pesto Veggie Pizza ready for the cheese, please.

Pesto Veggie Flatbread Pizza: Sauté one sliced sweet onion and 8 oz. of fresh, sliced mushrooms in one tablespoon of olive oil. Spread about 1 generous tablespoon of jarred basil pesto (or fresh basil pesto is even better) on each of the two flatbreads. Divide the onion and mushrooms, about one cup of quartered cherry tomatoes and 1 cup of grated mozzarella cheese evenly between the two flatbreads and bake as per the tuna melt instructions. Remove from the oven and top with fresh arugula if you like, or a few torn fresh basil leaves. Cut each pizza into four pieces. (Don’t use fresh mozzarella as the water content will make the flatbreads soggy.)

The latest creation…cheeseburger goodness in flatbread pizza form…yummy!

Cheeseburger Flatbread Pizza: I do this one when we make burgers or sliders and have leftovers. Thinly spread about 1 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite (I like Whole Foods Organic) jarred pizza sauce over each flatbread. Crumble one fully cooked burger patty per pizza or two slider patties per pizza over each of two flatbreads. Divide 1/2 thinly sliced onion and 1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes evenly between the two pizzas. Top with 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese evenly divided between the two pizzas. Bake per instructions for the tuna melt pizzas. Remove from oven and top with baby arugula. Slice each into four pieces.

Advertisements

Pizza Bolognese

Pizza1

Seriously, I could eat this pizza every day and be a very happy camper! It is the ultimate comfort food.

When you have a really busy day or work day and you find yourself facing starting dinner at 7:30 p.m., what do you do? Well, you can go out for dinner—and sometimes that’s the best way to decompress from your day. Or you can make what you’d planned to make and eat at about 9:30 or 10 p.m. But, if you have some pre-made pizza dough or crust in your fridge or freezer, a delicious pizza can be only a few short minutes away. I love making pizza, either planned in advance or as a quick go-to because, much like a frittata, it is a great way to use and enjoy leftover meats and veggies in your fridge.

The pizza I’m going to show you today, however, happens to be one that is far from using leftovers, because this little pizza features the most amazing bolognese sauce I’ve ever tasted. And why wouldn’t it be? After all it’s a family recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Chicago John of the Bartolini Kitchens, and I really encourage you to click on his Sugo alla Bolognese to see how to make it for yourself. John’s instructions are easy and thorough, so I will just show you the three stages of my sauce below, the beginning meat and veg, the middle simmer and the decadent and rich finished sauce. It’s a relaxing process, one during which I felt almost like I had John and Zia in the kitchen with me looking over my shoulder, and the result is SO worth the time. Making this sugo has completely changed my ideas about how a truly great pasta sauce really deserves a homemade pasta to go with it. So now I’m looking forward to trying John’s method for different homemade pastas and breaking in my new pasta machine…stay tuned.

Meanwhile, back to how this sauce and the pizza came together. I made this fabulous bolognese for the first time last weekend and we enjoyed it so much that it was hard not to just eat it straight out of the pot when it was done! After we feasted on this sugo with purchased pasta, I froze some for later (hopefully to go with my own homemade pasta) and I also put about a cup or two of it in the fridge to have ready for a quick lunch or dinner when I needed it. Then I started thinking about all the dishes I’d ever tasted that involved Bolognese sauce, and how inferior they were to the real deal. Most recently, I’d had a pizza “Bolognese” from a local pizzeria, which was nothing of the sort since it didn’t actually have a meat sauce on it. That’s when it hit me. I could stretch out my cup of sauce by trying it on a pizza. (John, I hope this doesn’t make you cringe.) And it was truly transformative! Even using a pre-made crust on a busy night, it tasted better than you could possibly imagine…unless you’ve made this bolognese sauce yourself.

So here’s my version of a Pizza Bolognese, and I hope you will try it by making some of John’s Bolognese. It really ticks all the little comfort food boxes for me. From now on, whenever I make Sugo alla Bolognese, there will be a portion assigned to a pizza, too!


Pizza Bolognese
Makes 6 slices

1 – 12-inch ready to use pizza crust
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup of Chicago John’s Sugo alla Bolognese, warmed, (or in a pinch, you can use a high quality purchased bolognese meat sauce, or a marinara with your own cooked and crumbled Italian sausage added to it, which will be good, but not Pizza Bolognese!)
6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and small diced
1/3 to 1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
4 oz. white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 oz. buffalo mozzarella cut into small pieces, about 3/4 – 1 inch in size
A fresh grating of fresh parmigiano reggiano (optional)

Garnish: A sprinkling of fresh arugula leaves (optional)

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F with your pizza stone in the center of the oven, or if you’re using a cookie sheet or pizza pan, place your rack in the center of the oven.

Place your prepared crust on a pizza peel sprinkled with a little cornmeal, or directly on the cookie sheet or pizza pan, if using that. Sprinkle the olive oil onto the crust and rub it around the edges with your hands and over the surface, distributing as evenly as possible. Next, spread your Sugo alla Bolognese sauce evenly over the pizza. I like to spoon mine out in quadrants, then spread it. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the sauce, then the red onion slices, then the mushrooms. Top the pizza with the mozzarella, spacing it evenly across the surface. Grate some parmigiano reggiano over the top of the pizza, if you like, it is terrific with and without.

Place the pizza onto the hot stone (I usually sprinkle a little more cornmeal on the hot stone before I place the pizza on it to bake), or place your cookie sheet or a pizza pan with the pizza into the oven. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese has browned but not burned and the crust is a golden brown, too. Remove the pizza from the oven (with the peel if you’re using one), and slide it onto a cutting surface. Cut into 6 slices and serve.

Note: If you like a little salad on your pizza, you can sprinkle the top with a few leaves of peppery fresh arugula…again it’s nice with, or without!

If you like, you can add a sprinkle of fresh arugula leaves to the finished pizza for a little peppery bite!

*****
And on another note: Tomorrow we actually start work on replacing the chimney…two weeks after I said it would begin. All should go fast now, relatively speaking, which means about 4-5 weeks of work and contractors coming and going. Fortunately we have our kitty kids to help us put this in perspective!

When your feeling stressed and like your world is upside down, it's good to have Thumbelina help you put things into perspective!

When you’re feeling stressed and like your world is upside down, it’s good to have Thumbelina help you put things into perspective!

Roasted Chicken Pizza with Shallot-Thyme White Sauce

Pizza before cooking and ready to eat...yummy!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I really do love pizza. Whoever invented it has my eternal gratitude. It’s so versatile, easy and fun to make. Whether savory or sweet, fully cooked in the oven, or a cooked crust with “raw” toppings, it’s all good. I mean, what’s better for a quick and tasty meal than concocting a sauce—or no sauce at all—customizing your toppings to taste and cheese…must….have….cheese—then popping it into the oven and only minutes later, pulling out the finished product? Okay, eating it…eating it is better. Continue reading

Cheater Pizza

All dressed up and ready for dinner.

Really, I shouldn’t dis this pizza by calling it “cheater”…it’s actually delicious pizza. It’s my fall back when I’ve been working all day and it’s really too late to make dinner. I call it cheating because, I confess it, I keep some whole wheat pre-made (cheater) pizza crust in my fridge. I know, home made is so much better, but when it’s 8 p.m. on a weeknight after I’ve been working all day, and I don’t already have some crust of my own made, the last thing I want to do is make pizza dough. It’s so easy to just pull out some cheater crust, place it on my peel, throw on some toppings, slide it onto my pizza stone, and in 12 minutes I’ve got a really tasty, crispy pizza, lickety-split! Continue reading