School Pizza

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This old school cafeteria pizza recipe captures the essence of everything that was good in the school cafeterias of our youth. (Cafeteria ladies are not included).

This fall was a real mom step for me. After 28 years of recording the first day of school with a picture every year, then sending my daughters to kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and finally high school – multiplied by five! – I faced the first day of my baby’s last year – and my last “first day of school”.

All but the youngest children have now gone on to university, but as anyone who has ever done so will tell you, sending a child to university is a totally different experience than sending a child to first grade. In any case, this rite of passage brought back memories, and as I went online to update Em’s lunch account, I started thinking about the cafeteria and school lunches of my childhood.

I grew up in northeast Portland and attended the same elementary school from kindergarten to grade eight; and by that time I think I had eaten almost 1,500 meals in our basement cafeteria. More than two-thirds of those were “hot lunches”.

If you love and miss the old school rectangle pizza, here’s the recipe:
Half sheet pan and line with parchment paper.
Crust:
2 ⅔ flour
¾ cup powdered milk
2 T sugar
1 packet of quick rise yeast
1 tsp salt
1 ⅔ cup warm water (105-110 degrees)
2 T vegetable oil
Filling:
½ pound ground chuck
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 8oz block mozzarella cheese – grated yourself (To be authentic school pizza, you will have to use imitation mozzarella shreds.)
Sauce (I make sauce the day before):
6oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
⅓ olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
½ tbsp dried oregano
½ tbsp dried basil
½ tsp dried rosemary crushed

Crust:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray pan with Pam and lay Parchment paper down (Pam makes it stick)
In a large bowl – flour, powdered milk, sugar, yeast, salt – whisk to blend
Add oil to hot water (110-115 degrees) – pour into your mixture
Stir with a wooden spoon until batter forms – don’t worry about lumps – you just want no dry spots
Spread dough into pan using fingertips until it’s even. If dough doesn’t want to cooperate, let rest 5 minutes and try again
Bake just the crust for 8-10 minutes – remove from oven and set aside.
Brown meats until it resembles crumbles – set aside and drain meat
Get out the pizza sauce – to partially baked crust, assemble:
Sauce – spread all over crust
Sprinkle meats
Sprinkle cheese
Bake at 475 degrees for 8-10 minutes until cheese melts and begins to brown
Remove from oven – let stand 5 minutes
Cut in slices and serve!

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