If you open any freezer in America, chances are good that you will find a frozen pizza. Or maybe that was just a 90s thing. The one you would find in my parents’ freezer circa 1996-2004 was Celeste. It’s a single-serving bar style pizza with a crust that’s not thick or thin, and the cheese goes out all the way to the edge of the pie. It gets a little crispy on the edges, or at least it might have if I hadn’t cooked it in the microwave It looked great on the box and it tasted… like frozen pizza with a heavy dose of oregano. I’d completely forgotten about them until I saw a picture of a homemade pizza that looked just like what was on those boxes.
I immediately emailed my brother the picture and he agreed that this homemade version looked just like what we grew up with. And from there, I pretty much had to make one. You see, you would not find a pizza in my freezer. Not because I have anything against frozen pizza. It’s pizza – even when it’s not very good, it’s still good. No, my freezer is pizza-less because it is too small for pizza. Thanks to the steeply sloped ceilings in my apartment, both the fridge and freezer live under my kitchen counter, and the freezer is too shallow for a pizza box (seriously, we generally have to shuffle to fit a bag of frozen dumplings in there most weeks). Satisfying a last minute pizza craving meant spending a while wrangling dough or ordering takeout. Well, no more.
I was skeptical that a tortilla with sauce and cheese would taste like a pizza, but the results were better than the Celestes I used to heat up in the microwave. This is not that microwaved pizza with a soggy crust and weirdly unmelted cheese. (Did you notice that on microwave pizzas? The cheese doesn’t always melt.) This is a good pizza. The hot pan gets the bottom browned and crispy, the cheese gets brown and bubbly, and in a few minutes you have a pizza that serves one. I load mine up with vegetables to enhance the pretense of healthiness.
I can’t promise that I’ll avoid frozen pizza forever. At some point we’ll have a full sized freezer again (fingers crossed), and you may find a pizza in there. But I don’t think I’ll ever give up this pizza either. It’s crispy, made-to-order, and relies mostly on fridge and pantry staples. Ad for the oregano in the recipe – it gives it a Greek-American style that reminds of the first pizza I can remember eating (and the place is still open!). If you haven’t had pizza like this, now is the time. And if you come up with any good topping combinations, let me know. I’m always up for pizza.
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tortilla
- Up to ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- Up to ⅓ cup shredded mozzarella
- ¼ cup yellow pepper + ¾ cup packed spinach leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 tbs feta cheese + ½ cup cooked asparagus spears, cut into two inch pieces
- Up to 1 cup toppings of your choice (the more toppings, the messier)
- PREP all your toppings before you start. This recipe moves fast so you need to have everything ready.
- TURN on your broiler - if you have a choice of settings, choose the High setting. Adjust a rack in the oven so that the pan will be a few inches from the flame.
- HEAT the oil in an oven-safe skillet (cast iron or thick-bottomed stainless steel are good) over high heat. After about 3-5 minutes, when the oil starts shimmering, add the tortilla.
- ADD your toppings to the tortilla (cheese that goes off the edges will get extra crispy) and turn off the heat.
- BROIL the pizza for five minutes, or until the cheese is melted and brown in spots. Remove it from the oven and use a spatula to transfer it to a plate.
This pizza is best when it's hot and fresh so eat it as a quickly as you can (while avoiding roof-of-mouth burns).