If you remember coming home from school to the smell of melting cheese, bubbling tomato sauce, and warm bread, then chances are you were lucky enough to have pizza bagels in your after-school snack rotation. Making pizza bagels was always a good idea. Whether they were the Bagel Bites brand we all know and love (who can forget that jingle?), or homemade versions, your heart would skip a beat when you saw the saucers of spicy sauce and gooey cheese cooling on the counter. And who can blame you? We all share a deep, unrivaled love that borders on addiction when it comes to pizza.
But if you have ever revisited your favorite childhood foods as an adult, you find yourself having one of two feelings: you're either blown away by nostalgia and impressed by the fact your snack tastes exactly like it did when you were a kid, or you find yourself questioning your childhood taste buds and your parents' decision making. I experienced the latter when I recently brought home a box of frozen pizza bagels. The cheese was definitely melty, the sauce smelled flavorful, the pepperoni looked spicy, and my hopes were pretty high. After chowing down, my stomach was full, but I was left with an empty feeling. They just didn't live up to the beloved memories I had of pizza bagels of days past. One thing was sure: it was time for a grownup makeover, pizza bagel style.
Forget the freezer section, and leave your microwave behind you with the days of Lisa Frank notebooks and Beanie Babies. It's time to embrace adulthood, and try these three simple but delicious at-home pizza bagels:
Makes six large pizza bagels
- 3 plain bagels, or 12 mini bagels
- 8 oz. tomato paste
- 6 oz. diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 2 tbsp. fresh chopped basil
- 1 tbsp. oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt + salt to taste
- 1 tsp. rosemary
- 1 cup mixed cheese (a mix of Parmesan, provolone, and mozzarella works great)
For three-cheese pizza bagels
- 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
For vegetarian pizza bagels
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1/2 green pepper, sliced
- Roasted red peppers
For meat lovers pizza bagels
- 1 Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled
- 1/4 cup pepperoni, diced
- 1/4 cup bacon bits
1. If preparing to eat right away, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine tomato paste, diced tomatoes (including liquid in the can), and water. Stir well, until the mixture is blended and even in consistency. Add in basil, oregano, salt, and rosemary, and mix until fully incorporated.
3. Cut bagels in half. Place them on a non-stick baking sheet, inside face up. Coat very lightly with olive oil (spray olive oil works best). Spread about two tablespoons of sauce on each bagel. Note:
You will have extra pizza sauce. It can be saved and refrigerated for up to two weeks.
4. Sprinkle mixed pizza cheese over the sauce. Add toppings.
5. If eating immediately, bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until cheese is melted and starts to bubble. Serve.
6. If freezing, cook for about six to eight minutes until cheese begins to melt. Let cool, and cover with foil. Freeze for at least four hours, and then transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container. Keep them in the freezer for up to one month. To cook after freezing, place the bagel in a toaster oven for about 10 minutes, until the bagel is cooked through and cheese is melted and bubbly.
Thanks to this DIY grown up pizza bagel recipe, I can safely say I will be having pizza in the morning, evening, supper time, second supper time, and for my drunk snack. Fresh out of the oven, these circles of heaven were warm, cheesy, and bursting with flavor (my favorite was the vegetarian one, though I bet it would be even better with sausage crumbles). Freezing them was simple, and they tasted just as good out of the toaster oven a few days later. Next up in the adventures of pizza bagels: breakfast style, extra cheese, extra bacon.
Images: Sadie Trombetta