School Pizza

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.
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
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
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!