Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent Style Italian Bread Pizzas

Ash Wednesday Pizzas

Today is Ash Wednesday.  While I am not of a faith that observes many of today's traditions, my family is and I always try to make extra sure that I don't forget their views today and on Fridays during lent.  Respect goes a long way in a family and I value their dedication to their faith. 

I am a good Southerner but even I can stand only so many fried catfish dinners!  I am from the "Catfish Capital of the South" but even a Paris, Tennessee lady has her limits :)

Today's solution to a no meat dinner was Italian Bread Pizza...Lent Style!

1 Loaf Italian Bread
8 oz Ricotta Cheese
2 c Shredded Italian Cheese (I like Kraft Italian Blend)
1/4 c Feta Cheese - optional
1/4 c Grated Parmesan Cheese (again, Kraft is fine)
1 1/2 c Alfredo Sauce (I like Bertolli)
1 1/2 c Spaghetti Sauce (brand of your choice)
1 Bell Pepper
4 Green Onions
1 c Sliced Mushrooms
2 Roma Tomatoes
2 c Fresh Spinach
2 c Petite Shrimp
garlic flakes (or powder, or 1 Tbl. minced )
onion flakes (or powder)

Chop all veggies into a medium to fine chop (depending on how chunky you like your pizza veggies).  Saute (in a pat or butter or in a splash of water for a lighter version) green peppers first until they start to soften, add green onions, then mushrooms and cook until they start to tender.  Add tomatoes at the last minute as they take just a minute to cook - you don't want them mushy.  Drain and set veggie mix aside.

Chop spinach into small pieces.  Saute in a pat of butter for just a minute or two.  Spinach looks big when raw but cooks into 1/4 it's original volume.  As soon as it wilts and turns a darker green, remove from heat and set spinach aside.

Saute shrimp for 4 minutes or so, until they are cooked tender, drain and set aside.

Mix Alfredo sauce with 4 oz of Ricotta cheese, sprinkle in 1/8 c shredded Parmesan cheese.

In a separate bowl, mix Spaghetti sauce with 4 oz of Ricotta cheese and remaining 1/8 c shredded Parmesan cheese.

Slice your bread horizontally then into sections.  I cut big pieces for the hubs and small ones for me.

Spread each slice of bread with just a small dab of butter.  Sprinkle each slice with just a tiny pinch of onion flakes and sprinkle lightly with garlic powder (I like to use heavier garlic on the Shrimp Pizzas).  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Place in a 350* oven for about 7 want it to warm and toast but don't use the broiler (it will burn on you in a New York minute)!

Remove bread...spread 1/2 of your bread pieces with the Alfredo mix, add spinach, then shrimp. Sprinkle with just a pinch of Feta cheese, then top with Italian Cheese mix. (You can omit the Feta cheese of you are not a fan.)

Spread the other half of your bread pieces with Spaghetti sauce mix, add sauteed veggies then top with Italian cheese.

Place bread back on the baking sheet and pop it in the oven @ 350* for 7-10 minutes (until your cheese melts and starts to be golden). 

Remove and serve! 

I don't come up with stuff in my head very often but today I had an "on it" moment and came up with this concoction!  The hubs LOVED IT!  When you're a hit at 6:00 for dinner, you've had a pretty good day Ma'am (or Sir)!

Get creative and use zucchini or other veggies and amp this up to suit.  The secret to really good sauce is mixing the Ricotta with your sauce and adding the makes a wonderful base!

Serves 2-4 depending on appetites and if you want left overs for lunch tomorrow!

You don't have to make both types, just pick a favorite and go with it!  Do all cheeses for the kids and mix in some shredded cheddar!  There are no rules in Pizza....just no meat until after Good Friday!

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