Thursday, January 6, 2011

January 6: Mega Meatball Pizza and Zippy Italian Popcorn

   Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, plus 2 tablespoons
1 pizza dough, pre-baked
2 tablespoons finely chopped dried rosemary
   Coarse salt
1 1/3 pounds ground sirloin
1  medium onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
   Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 3-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
   A handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 pound fresh mozzarella or brick mozzarella, sliced or grated
1 package microwave popcorn
   Salad greens of your choice with toppings and dressing of your choice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place your pizza dough on a round pizza pan. Drizzle the dough with EVOO, then season it with the rosemary and a little salt.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO, then the meat. Brown and crumble the meat for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and garlic.

Season the meat with salt and pepper, then work in the tomato paste using the back of a wooden spoon.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, parsley, and oregano.

Top the prepared pizza crust with the meat mixture.

Arrange the mozzarella cheese over the pizza, working from the center to the outside edge.
Return the pizza to the oven and bake until the cheese is golden, another 10-12 minutes.

Microwave the popcorn according to the package instructions and prepare your salad and dressing.

Cut the pizza into wedges and serve with the popcorn and salad.

This is one of Rachael's "TV Dinners," which I can see with a family of teenagers :) But I have very small children, and this pizza is very messy when you eat it. So we ate at the kitchen table. I did alter this recipe, but don't worry; if you want to try the Zippy Italian Popcorn, I will give you the recipe in a minute. The first thing I changed was the crust. I've made this recipe in the past, and the crust has always been the biggest problem for me. The kind you get in the refrigerated section of the supermarket (usually Pillsbury brand) comes in a can and rolls out to a rectangular shape. It is impossible to get it into a round shape, and it is almost as impossible to spread into a rectangular baking pan. It gives me so many problems that I just decided to take the easy way out and buy a pre-baked pizza dough. Oh my goodness, it's so much easier, and my pizza came out perfectly! I don't think it's any more expensive either. The next thing I changed was the popcorn. The recipe is:

natural-flavor microwave popcorn
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup parmigiano-reggiano

My husband and I did not like this recipe: we didn't like the red pepper, and the unsalted butter adds unwanted fat, but no flavor. Anyway, try it if you like that kind of thing, but we went for the plain buttered variety (it's what we had in the pantry). The third thing I changed was that I added the salad. This recipe calls for NO vegetables (no, popcorn is NOT a vegetable), and so it was not balanced. I used some spinach I had left from a previous recipe, 1/2 of a bell pepper, croutons, and some dried cranberries. I made a vinaigrette with honey, red wine vinegar, EVOO, oregano, salt and pepper. The fourth (small) change I made was to cut back on the beef to 1 1/3 pounds from 1 1/2 pounds. I should have used only 1 pound, but that's how big my package was. Also, Rachel always calls for Parmigiano-Reggiano, but it is super expensive, so I usually just sub in the cheap, store brand canned grated Parmesan. I can't tell the difference. And I used dried rosemary instead of fresh.

The pizza is delicious. The kids really like the popcorn, and I like the healthiness of the salad: a successful birthday dinner (it's my birthday today)! 


  1. I think my bible verse site is the one that is sent to your email. It doesn't have a link to this site. I have three. This is a link to the main site. It has a link to the other two.

  2. Looks good. We love pizza. We may have to try it.