There will always be certain foods that remind me of being a kid. Any and all Little Debbie snacks (a staple of my school lunches), little sundae cups of chocolate swirl ice cream, and the pot roast with potatoes and carrots my mom would make almost every Sunday.
Then, there’s the foods that my sisters and I would make ourselves. Usually it was nothing fancy, things like cheese crisps in the broiler, and ill-advised concoctions like the snack my sister dreamed up once that consisted of butter, maple syrup and marshmallows in the microwave. English muffin pizzas also factored heavily in our homemade snack rotation, as they were easily cooked in the toaster oven and were fast to assemble after school while we watched re-runs of Charles In Charge on TV (oh, Scott Baio…).
What can be easier than toasty english muffins slathered with pizza sauce and melty mozzarella? This time around, I decided to fancy these up a little by making a super easy but super amazing tomato sauce from scratch, one made famous in Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking. A can of whole tomatoes, crushed and simmered with a simple yellow onion and a good chunk of butter — it’s the easiest sauce you’ll ever make, and is as fantastic over perfectly cooked pasta with a bit of good cheese and a glass of wine, as it is over these english muffin pizzas. Add some chopped pepperoni with your simple sauce and melty mozzarella, and you’re in business!
english muffin pizzas
(makes 12 single pizzas)
1 batch simple tomato sauce (recipe below)
6 english muffins, halved
6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded
24 slices pepperoni, chopped small
dried basil, oregano, parsley and black pepper
simple tomato sauce
1- 28 oz can whole plum tomatoes
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
5 Tbs (70 g) unsalted butter
salt, to taste
To make the sauce: In a large pot, add the entire can of tomatoes with their juice, and crush with a potato masher. Add the onion halves and butter, and let heat over medium-low heat until bubbling. Once the sauce is bubbling, turn to low heat and let simmer for 45 minutes. Fish out the onion halves and discard. Remove from the heat.
To assemble the pizzas: Under a preheated broiler, place english muffins on a sheet pan and toast both sides of the halved muffins until light golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Top the cut side of each half with 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce, a small handful (half an ounce) of the shredded mozzarella, and a large pinch of the chopped pepperoni. Broil the pizzas for 3-4 minutes until the cheese is melty and bubbling and just starting to brown. Sprinkle with the herbs and pepper, and serve hot.
For a quick bite, these little pizzas are simple and just plain good. They’re cheesy and crispy, and the tomato sauce elevates them past your usual after-school snack. Whip them up in an afternoon and enjoy a blast from the past!