Children, in the 1970s when I was growing up things were different. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we had 3 t.v. stations, drank Tab, and rode around in gigantic cars with unused seat belts. But did you know that they sold cigarettes in vending machines, and that you could obtain liquor as a minor by calling your neighborhood liquor store, having it delivered to your home and saying that your mom was in the shower when the delivery guy arrived? I’ve heard?
But let’s talk about food. Of course you could buy frozen pizza at the grocery store, you could even chose from 2 or 3 different kinds because it was America and we demand at least the illusion of choice! In Chicago most of us were lucky enough to have a decent pizza place on every block and that, young readers, is where we got our pizza. They were places called Alberto’s or Luigi’s. They flyer-bombed your apartment lobby bi-weekly and they were always there when you need a nice, hot thin-crust pizza and an RC cola. On special occasions, you could go to Pizzeria Uno’s, Gino’s or (my favorite) My Pie for deep dish and a crazy new fad called a “salad bar.”
But in 1974 the good people at Stouffer’s introduced the game-changing French Bread Pizza. I loved it and ate it well into adulthood. Truth be told, I still think it’s a pretty good convenience food. But guess what? You can make it yourself! Like most homemade things, it’s fresher and more customizable than store-bought and it’s actually kind of fun to make.
French Bread Pizza
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 24″-loaf French bread, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 8 even pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup canned tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 475-degrees. Microwave oil, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the basil and the pepper flakes in a small bowl for 30-60 seconds (until fragrant).
Arrange bread on foil-lined baking sheet, brush with half of oil mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake until cheese begins to brown, about 3 minutes and remove from oven.
Combine tomato sauce, remaining basil and remaining oil mixture and spread evenly over bread. Top with mozzarella and bake until cheese in melted and brown in spots, 5-7 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through cooking time. Serve.