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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Upside-Down Pizza Casserole


I remember the first time I tasted pizza. (It certainly wasn't anything my mother ever made for us as children as most Newfoundlanders probably had never seen one, let alone tasted one.)  We were at Uncle Alex and Aunt Joan's for Saturday night supper.  While Aunt Joan was making homemade fries (so good), Uncle Alex brought from the cupboard an almost square box with a pizza mix inside.  He assured us it was all the rage on the mainland and we were in for a real treat that night.  (We revered his word as a well-education, well-travelled man of the world. And, he was our uncle.) He proceeded to make up the pizza, sprinkling it with the little package of dry cheese, popped it in the oven and had it baked by the time the fries were ready.  I was quite eager to taste this new and exotic food.  I felt as if I would become ten times wiser than any of my school friends because I would enlighten and free them from their ignorance of international cuisine. . . . . .

It was a strange taste sensation in my mouth and I wasn't sure if I liked it.  I ate it anyway, because I was a polite child when eating at someone else's house.   My father, whose palate was not accustomed to sharp cheeses or spicy tomato sauce, flavoured with the strange herbs of oregano and basil, summed it up when he declared, "I don't think this is going to catch on!"  I secretly agreed with him but aloud I gave my approval as I ate my first slice of pizza.  

Of course, since my first introduction, I've come to enjoy (love) the many faces of a pizza pie.  Even my mother learned how to make them and could produce a pizza to rival that of any pizza parlour.  

When I was first married, Don turned up his nose at anything remotely different from his mother's cooking and as they never ate pizza, Don turned his nose up at pizza.  That character fault was quickly remedied after he got a taste of the Italian inspired pie, rich with tomato sauce and cheese.  Now pizza is a looked for and welcome item on our table.  I suppose Don doesn't even remember not liking pizza.  

I've had many pizzas over the years, made many different ways but this recipe is actually a deconstruction of a veggie pizza.  ("Deconstructon"--ha, ha.  I've been watching too much Food Channel.) All the toppings are put in a casserole dish and the crust is on top.  Pizza is, of course, made with a yeast raised dough but this casserole is put together quickly using buttermilk biscuits for the crust.  I've included a recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits but you may have my permission to use a purchased tube of frozen biscuits instead. 

Upside-Down Pizza Casserole
2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion, diced
½ green, red or yellow pepper, diced
227 grams (8 oz.) fresh mushrooms, sliced
½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 or 2 garlic cloves finely minced)
1 package Yves Veggie Ground Round or any veggie burger equivalent to 1 pound of ground beef
1 ¾ cups pizza/pasta sauce
1 or 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning 
½ cup well drained pineapple tidbits, optional
125 grams (3 - 4 oz.) Mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1¼ cups )
1 recipe for Buttermilk Biscuits* or Baking Powder Biscuits

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease or pan spray a 2 liter (quart) baking dish.

In a large frying pan, over medium heat, cook the onion, peppers, mushrooms and garlic powder (or minced garlic cloves) in the oil.  Add the veggie burger and stir until heated through.

Add seasoning and pizza sauce. Bring to a simmer.  Add pineapple, if using

Pour the mixture into the baking dish. (If you are using an oven proof frying pan save some washing up and use the pan--I did.) Top with shredded Mozzarella cheese. Top with 8 unbaked biscuits which have been cut in 4 pieces each. (The recipe for the biscuits is at the bottom of this page.)

Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, or until the biscuits are nicely browned and the casserole is bubbling.

Prepare the vegetables.  I already had frozen mixed peppers in the freezer which worked well in this recipe.


The vegetables are in the pan.  As they cook the mushrooms shrink and everything fits nicely.  The veggie burger and pasta sauce are mixed through the cooked vegetables. 


I decided to bake the casserole in the cast iron frying pan everything was cooked. I added fresh oregano to the mix, then mixed in the pineapple.  Sprinkle everything with the Mozzarella cheese.


Top with the biscuit pieces and bake 15- 18 minutes until bubbling and biscuits are golden brown.

What's for dinner?  
UPSIDE-DOWN PIZZZZZZZA!


********************************
  
*Buttermilk Biscuits
The butter and flour blended together.

Stir together:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

With pastry blender or  hands blend in finely:
6  tablespoons very cold  butter 

Add:
1 cup cold buttermilk or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
   
Stir with a fork to make a soft dough.  Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times.  Roll or pat to desired thickness (biscuits will double in height when baked).  Cut with floured cookie cutter or floured glass.  (For Upside-Down Pizza, cut each biscuit in fourths and follow directions in the above recipe.) For regular biscuits place biscuits on ungreased pan and bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown. 


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