Friday Night Mini-Pizzas

These have quickly become a family favorite of ours. Fridays are supposed to be fun, and easy, and fun. And, well, easy. So here we are – Friday night is approaching quickly, and I want to be able to put dinner together even quicker. Another great thing about these pizzas besides the hot melty cheese, delicious Italian meat combo, the light crunch crust, and fresh basil on top? All the prep can be done in advance, and then it’s as easy as slapping it all together when everyone’s (almost) ready to eat. Get a little crazy and let the kids make their own — nothing like lots of little olive oiled fingers flinging sliced meat and banana peppers across the table at each other. Remember? Fridays are supposed to be fun!

Recipe:

This is truly a recipe you can alter to fit your own taste. The greatness of the pizza is in the crust and the fresh toppings sprinkled on at the end. All quantities listed below are estimates. Feel free to change them to fit your preferences! Makes 8 servings of 2 mini-pizzas each.

8 fresh-baked hamburger buns (from your grocer’s bakery)
Olive oil for brushing buns
1 8 oz can tomato sauce with garlic, basil, and oregano
2 C shredded mozzarella cheese or shredded Italian cheese blend
1/2 C finely diced red onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced (if you don’t have time, garlic powder works great here too)
1 C thinly sliced deli ham (we use Boars Head Tavern Ham) cut into
strips
1/2 C thin sliced salami, cut into narrow strips
1/2 C thin sliced pepperoni, roughly chopped
1 C banana peppers, drained
1/4 C freshly grated parmesan
8 basil leaves, snipped or torn
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, and maybe even a little crushed red pepper flakes.

Pre-heat oven to 375F. Slice all buns in half and brush or rub the “inside” sides liberally with olive oil. Place them face down on a cookie sheet (a silicone baking liner is perfect here). Spoon a layer of tomato sauce onto each bun and spread evenly. Sprinkle each bun with Mozzarella cheese, red onion, garlic cloves, all three meats, and banana peppers. Add another little sprinkle of Mozzarella over the top. Bake in the oven for about 8-10 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle on salt and pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste. Then add Parmesan and fresh basil.

Then sit down, get comfortable and take a delicious bite. It’s OK if you feel the need to moan in delight. Really. I’ll join you.

Recipe inspired by Sunny Anderson’s Avenue J Pizza on The Food Network.

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