Look. I'll level with you. To call this pizza would insult the generations of hardworking Italian nonnas who have done nothing but bring us some of the finest cuisines to come out of Europe.
But, in fairness, at month-end when all you’ve got in your pantry is a stale loaf of ciabatta and some squishy tomatoes, anything with a bit of melted cheese on it is a close substitute.
What this bread pizza lacks in authenticity it more than makes up for in deliciousness. I don’t have kids, but I’m confident that this meal would go down a treat for family dinners. If you can’t be bothered to slow-cook the tomatoes, just smear the bread with a bit of tomato paste and a few leaves of thyme if you like. I won’t tell if you don’t!
This recipe was born from ingenuity, which is to say that I don’t quite know yet how to make pizza dough and one night I thought, “Well, I could just put some mozzarella on this ciabatta and call it a day.” That was during my student days. This recipe, dear reader, has stood the test of time. I’ll tell you how to make it.
What you’ll need from the shops
A loaf of ciabatta (this is a great way to use up an old one)
Rosa tomatoes (or tomato paste if you’re taking the easy way out)
A few cloves of fresh garlic
A few sprigs of thyme, parsley, or basil - we love a fresh herb in the kitchen!
You can put whatever toppings you like on your bread pizza. I’ve made it in the past with packet olives, anchovies, and caper berries from the store for a quick and salty treat.
This time, I made it with bacon, because that’s what I had in my fridge. Are you catching my drift yet? This is quite an easy meal to throw together with very little notice. Let the contents of your pantry guide you!
How to make it
Step One: Prep your kak
Slice your tomatoes in half. Chop your bacon or whatever toppings you’ve decided to go with. Grate your mozzarella. Preheat the grill to about 200 degrees Celcius.
Step Two: Have a bread fiasco
Slice into your ciabatta. Feel your chest fill with a ballooning sense of pride. This ciabatta is stale, yes, but you are singlehandedly expunging the earth of the scourge of food waste. Children will chant your name in adoration for decades to pass.
Realise that the ciabatta has, in fact, gone mouldy.
Sprint (skirts streaming in the buffeting Cape winds) to the local deli and beg for a fresh ciabatta. Feel your heart break as the lady behind the counter shakes her head solemnly. It is past lunchtime, Mia. You fool. How could you ever have hoped to find a fresh ciabatta at this hour? Everyone knows that they sell out by 10 AM.
Stomp dejectedly to the local Spar. Select a German roll from a sparse selection of breads. Resolve to abolish food waste another day.
Step Three: Prep your tomatoes
If you’re using fresh tomatoes, then follow the detailed instructions in my Very Sexy Bacon and Tomato Pasta recipe for an idea of how to prepare them on the stove.
If you can’t be arsed to open up a recipe in a new tab, take my word for it: fry your chopped bacon, take bacon out, fry tomatoes in bacon fat and some extra butter if need be, slow cook the tomatoes on low heat for 15-20 minutes with a few cloves of garlic for good measure.
Add your herbs in at the last second to flavour the tomatoes. They should be browned, soft, and fragrant. Perfect for smooshing onto your ciabatta.
Step Four: Prepare the base
Toast your ciabatta slices gently so that they’re crunchy all over after they’ve been in the oven.
Step Five: Assemble!
Smoosh your slow-cooked tomatoes and garlic onto the base. Divine!
Top with your bacon bits, or whatever you’ve chosen to top your bread pizza with. Delicious!
Sprinkle generously with grated mozzarella cheese. To die for!
Step Six: Into the oven
As you can see, I baked my bread pizza (and almost anything else that goes into the oven) on my Humble and Mash Silicone Baking Sheet. It was a Christmas gift from last year, and I’m still chuffed every time I use it.
It is the easiest thing in the world to clean, and it soothes my eco-anxiety to consider how much baking paper I am diverting from the landfill. I failed to divert half a loaf of ciabatta from the landfill not moments ago, but who amongst us is perfect, really? I ask you.
Anyway, enough existential ennui. Leave your bread pizza under the grill for about ten minutes. I think? I’m not sure. My approach when it comes to melting cheese is that of a vodka aunt who has recently been asked how old her nephew is. Nine? Ten? Thirteen? When the cheese is golden brown, take it out of the oven. That’s my philosophy.
Sit back with a lovely glass of red blend from a box and eat your budget bread pizza in peace. We’re not in Italy, baby, but don’t let that stop you from putting a gondola in your bathtub.