Land of Leftovers

At my house, pizza is almost a tradition on Sunday evenings. We're often tired from a busy -- but fun -- weekend and we're ready to have a great dinner that's easy to make. Therefore, pizza seems a natural. It usually takes less than 20 minutes to bake and everyone can help out with the toppings.

Speaking of toppings, there are as many varieties of them as there are people out there. I've seen everything from peas to pears to pesto on a pizza. And that's just one letter of the alphabet! So it only seems practical that leftovers can play an important role in making that perfect pizza a reality...no matter which day of the week it is!

Here is a list of my favorite leftovers for use on a pizza:

  • Cooked cubed chicken
  • Lightly steamed spinach
  • Salsa (makes a great substitute for a tomato sauce base!)
  • Shredded pork or beef
  • Breakfast sausage
  • Pesto (with walnuts!)
  • Taco fixings
  • Grilled portabella mushrooms
  • Caramelized onions
  • Stuffed peppers (slice them thin while they're cold and layer them over a rich tomato sauce!)
  • Steamed artichoke hearts or broccoli
  • Chunked pineapple

Of course, we all have our own favorites. If you see something missing from my list, feel free to let me know about it! I'm always looking for great ways to top a pizza -- especially if it helps save time and money.

The trio of recipes I'm including in this month's column take advantage of some of the ingredients I listed above. They have been chosen because they take advantage of leftovers, take little time to make, and have unusual crusts. While the Chicken & Feta Calzones aren't technically pizzas, I figured the theme of bread and toppings/fillings would be enough to include them. Besides, they're some of my favorites!

And now, without further ado, here's our special trio of leftover pizzas:

I hope these treats inspire you to think pizza next time you open your refrigerator to see what's waiting for you!

Mini-Taco Pizzas

These individual pizzas take advantage of leftover taco meat. Next time you have some left, pull out some refrigerated biscuits and make some pizzas!
  • 1 can large refrigerated biscuits (such as Grands)
  • 1/2 c. salsa
  • 1 c. taco meat
  • 1 c. black beans
  • 1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 c. red pepper strips
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Separate biscuits and press each into a 5 inch circle on ungreased cookie sheets.

Combine salsa, taco meat, black beans, and cilantro in a medium bowl; mix well. Spread evenly over the biscuits, leaving a 1/4" border. Top evenly with onions, pepper and cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes for until biscuits are golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve one pizza per guest.

  • Yields: 8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Sourdough Sausage Pizza

The next time you have breakfast sausage and a loaf of sourdough available, make sure that you save enough to make this unique pizza.
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 2 oz. breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 c. skim milk
  • 1/4 c. white wine
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/2 large sourdough loaf, cut in half horizontally
  • 1 1/2 c. grated asiago cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook red pepper and onion in a skillet coated with cooking spray until crisp tender. Add mushrooms, sausage, spices and milk. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.

Meanwhile, combine white wine and cornstarch in a glass. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add to boiling sausage mixture and mix constantly until thickened. Remove from heat.

Place sourdough halves on an ungreased cookie sheet. Carefully spoon sausage mixture over the bread, leaving 1/4" border. Sprinkle generously with grated asiago cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cut each pizza into 2-3 slices, depending on the shape of your loaf. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Chicken & Feta Calzones

Calzones are pockets of pastry that are filled with the types of things you would top a pizza with. These call for leftover chicken.
  • 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 T. onion, diced
  • 8 oz. feta cheese, cubed
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken breast, cooked and cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. rosemary leaves
  • 1 T. grated asiago cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Separate dough into four rectangles. Pinch perforations to seal. Place two of the rectangles on an ungreased cookie sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine onion, feta cheese, and chicken; mix well. Spoon 1/2 of the mixture into each of two of the pastry rectangles on the cookie sheet. Carefully lay the other rectangles over the filling and press the edges to seal. Cut three slashes in the tops of the calzones to all steam to escape. Brush them both with egg and sprinkle with rosemary and grated cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before serving. To serve, cut each calzone in two.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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