My colleagues tell me I am weird. Nothing truly dysfunctional, mind you – I don’t keep mice in my filing drawer (or tequila, for that matter); I don’t hum tunelessly to myself all day; and I don’t eat salt cod casserole, durian fruit or Epoisse cheese sandwiches to work. I don’t clip my nails at my desk (fingers or toes!); I don’t leave passive-aggressive notes on food in the fridge; and I don’t write ALL CAPS E-MAILS when annoyed. But I can resist temptation and keep a chocolate bar obtained mid-morning sitting on my desk until I have coffee mid-afternoon without any problems. In fact, I have been known to keep and entire slab of chocolate in my desk drawer for a week, doling it out a bit at a time to my 3 pod-mates, and never be tempted to gobble it all up when they aren’t looking. But if they were to leave a block of mature cheddar on my desk, it would be gone by noon.
When politicians suck their teeth and make concerned noises about how sugar is killing us all because it is as dangerous as crack cocaine and severe restrictions are imminent, I laugh without a care in the world. Because, you see, I am a savoury girl and my cravings very seldom extend into the sweet end of the spectrum. Of course, I am not saying that my cravings are healthy – far from it (cheddar, mayonnaise and crisp canapé, anyone?). But when people talk about craving a chocolate hit I just don’t get it. Between a dessert and a cheeseboard, the cheeseboard wins for me every single time. So when I am feeling low and craving comfort, you’ll never find me reclining on the sofa amid a sea of chocolate wrappers and discarded ice-cream cartons – but you may well find me hiding behind a wall of pizza boxes.
Check out the wonderful world of Pinterest and you will see I am not alone in my pizza love – there are well over 400 boards dedicated to the art of pizza (well, 400 is where I stopped counting!). There are oceans of featherlight, crispy thin base pizzas; supersized indulgent Chicago deep-dish pizzas; mini-pizzas; giant square pizzas for sharing; pizzas with bases made of cauliflower or zucchini or beets; and even sweet dessert pizzas. There’s also an entire culinary subculture of meals inspired by pizzas – pizza salads, dips, nachos, cones, breads and vegetables bakes. The list is endless and in equal measures inspiring and slightly terrifying! I’m not sure I am quite ready top make a pizza in an ice-cream cone, but what I do make fairly often is a pizza-inspired cheese toastie (grilled cheese sandwich for my American readers). The idea is simple: take the basic flavours of a margherita pizza (cheese, basil, tomato, garlic) and instead of piling them on a base, I sandwich them between two slices of bread and toast in a griddle pan. The result is instant pizza gratification without the hassle of having to make pizza dough! So as far as I am concerned, you can keep all your chocolates and your cakes – give me pizza in any form and I will be a happy camper forever.
- 4 slices good bread
- 4 Tbsp good quality chopped tinned tomatoes or passata
- 1 large ripe tomato, sliced
- semi-soft cheese (mozzarella, Edam, Gouda, Fontina or Provolone would all work)
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- dried oregano
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp butter, softened
- salt and pepper to taste
- Spread one side of each slice of bread with the chopped tomatoes/passata (use a thin layer only - you don't want the bread to get too soggy)
- Place thin slices of cheese on each slice of bread (you need some cheese on each side to make the halves stick together when the cheese melts), then cover two of the slices with tomato and basil leaves. Sprinkle dried oregano on all the slices and then sandwich together one cheese and one tomato slice to make two sandwiches.
- Mash together the butter and minced garlic together with salt and pepper to taste. Spread both outside surfaces of each sandwich with garlic butter.
- Heat a ridged cast-iron griddle pan on the stove until it is hot, then carefully place the sandwiches in the hot pan. Press down firmly with an egg lifter - you want to make sure that the two sides stick together properly. Check the underside of the sandwiches and when they have grill marks and the cheese is looking slightly melty around the crusts, flip them over and repeat on the other side.
- When both sides have good grill marks and the cheese is beginning to ooze out, remove from the pan, slice in half and serve immediately.
Here are some other pizza-inspire recipes from bloggers who love pizza almost as much as I do:
- Jac’s pizza dip with cream cheese
- Sarah’s pizza muffins
- Nazima’s pizza nachos
- Helen’s cheesy Margarita pizza hummus
If you enjoyed this recipe you might also want to have a look at my other recipes. You can also find me tweeting at @cooksisterblog, snapping away on Instagram, or pinning like a pro on Pinterest. To keep up with my latest posts, you can subscribe to my free e-mail alerts, like Cooksister on Facebook, or follow me on Bloglovin.