Did you know it is National Pizza Party Day? Sounds like a good thing to celebrate or maybe I’m just searching for a good excuse to celebrate. Either way, there has been more pizza eating in our house than usual. Come to find out, we’re not alone. According to QSR Magazine, pizza chains are thriving during this pandemic and there is data to prove that “amid the crisis, pizza is at the top of consumers’ minds when it comes to takeout and delivery. ” In fact, “63 percent of people said they wanted pizza.”
So if we are all having more pizza, perhaps there are pizza leftovers, too. Here is a review of some of my favorite ways to enjoy leftover pizza.
The following was originally published on August 10, 2019:
With the school season here, there are sure to be hectic schedules and long days, which probably mean pizza nights are here, too. Pizza nights can leave leftover pizza hanging out in the fridge. Leftover pizza–some of you may say no such thing exists, others may say it’s the best way to start a day. This week as I was getting ready for my regular segment on WAFB, leftover pizza was the “hot” topic or perhaps I should say the “cold” topic. Everyone seemed to have college leftover pizza memories. The majority of us ate leftover pizza cold straight out of the box and many ate the cold leftover pizza while headed out the door to classes. My adult self now would not eat cold pizza or leave the pizza in the box overnight without properly wrapping it. I do still love leftover pizza for breakfast, but now it is in a hot strata, or layered casserole.
I admit, leftover pizza strata is one of those leftovers that I really look forward to, in fact, I have even been guilty of ordering extra pizza just so I can have the leftovers for breakfast. My love for leftover pizza strata can even be seen in my Instagram feed, it is the leftover I have posted the most times!
For these recipes, I used cold slices of thin or regular pizza.
Leftover Pizza Strata: I most often make individual ones, since hubby doesn’t eat eggs, but you can certainly make it as big as you would like, just increase egg amount and cooking time. This strata is also a good way to use up odds and ends, too, like herbs, cheese, olives, and leftover cooked meats, chicken, or veggies,
- Lightly grease a small casserole dish or large ramekin.
- Separate toppings from crust, set aside
- Tear up crust and fit into bottom of dish
- Top with pizza toppings and any additional toppings
- Whisk egg, cream or milk, and pepper together. (I like to add basil or Italian seasoning, too.) Pour over casserole. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Bake at 350* for 15 minutes or until middle is set.
- Loosen strata from sides with knife. Invert onto a plate. Enjoy.
Pizza Panini: Use pizza as “bread” to make an easy cheesy panini. This works really well for leftover “Sicilian” style pizza, or square pizza, but if not, use two pieces of pizza of equal size, or cut to match. Lay one slice down, top with desired fillings. I used leftover rotisserie chicken with sautéed onions and peppers for a chicken philly panini. Top with other slice of pizza. Press together. Brush sides with olive oil. Use a panini press or put down in skillet or grill pan over medium heat and use a bacon press to weigh sandwich down. Cook for 3 minutes. remove press. Flip. Replace press. Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
Pizza Croutons: These are a great way to fill your pizza craving without much guilt, especially when used on a salad! Cut pizza into strips and then into equal sized cubes. Put cubes together with crust on the outside. Gently press together. Spray or brush one side of cubes with olive oil. Put cubes into non-stick skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes. Brush tops with olive oil. Flip cook an additional 2 minutes or until desired crispness. Croutons can also be set on a rack in a 375* oven and baked for 8-10 minutes. Enjoy leftover pizza croutons on salads (love it on Caesar salads) or in soups. FYI: So delicious as a topping for tomato soup!
Pizza Cheese Sticks: This is a definite crazy splurge but is so worth it! This falls in the parameter of, “Oh, no you didn’t” and “Oh, yes, I did.” If you enjoy crazy fried creations than this has your name on it, but to make you feel better, it’s not even fried-it’s baked. Doesn’t that make it a bit healthier? Most enjoy cheese sticks with marinara sauce so consider this a time saving trick. Gently flatten pizza slice. Place a frozen cheese stick at small end. Roll up. Press down to seal. (If needed, use a toothpick to hold pizza together, but don’t push into cheese stick.) Place seam side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 450* for 8-10 minutes. No cheese sticks? Use frozen chicken tenders or even fish sticks.
Pizza “Breadcrumbs”: There are so many possibilities with these pizza “breadcrumbs”. Break up pizza into a food processor. Mince. The crumbs can be mixed with regular breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese as a coating for Baked Pizza Chicken Tenders. The crumbs can also be toasted on a parchment lined baking sheet in a 350* oven for 5 minutes. Use toasted crumbs to make pizza meatballs, hamburgers, or meatloaf or as a crispy pizza topping for casseroles.
Pizza Dip: This is a quick and easy fix when the kids are fighting over the last slice of leftover pizza. Break up a pizza slice into a food processor. Mince. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 1 can of tomatoes and the minced pizza. Heat until hot, stirring occasionally. Top with cheese. Serve with cheese sticks, garlic bread, pizza chicken tenders, chips, or use in a pizza lasagna.
Pizza Lasagna: If you have a lot of leftover pizza, make this plan ahead freezer friendly meal. Use pizza dip as sauce and the leftover pizza as noodles in your favorite lasagna recipe and add in any additional desired toppings. Make a double batch of pizza dip, line the bottom of a casserole dish with thin layer of dip, top with layer of pizza slices, crust side down, add layer of seasoned ricotta mixed with egg and Parmesan cheese, and any additional desired toppings. Top with pizza slices, topping side down. Spread remaining pizza sauce on top. Top with mozzarella cheese. Wrap and freeze. Bake covered 375* for 1 1/2 hours. Remove cover and continue to bake until hot and bubbly.
Put on Your TO COOK IS TO CREATE Thinking Cap: Think of all the pizza possibilities! Use these recipes as a chance to add any and all of your favorite pizza toppings. Think about how different pizza toppings could change the flavor of these recipes, like a leftover seafood pizza wrapped fish stick or a Hawaiian pizza strata. Leftover veggie pizza? Make crumbs and use it as a coating for eggplant or zucchini sticks. Use the pizza dip as a sauce to top a meatloaf. Get creative and remember it is after all, leftover pizza, so anything is going to be good!
Food Fun: According to The Pizza Joint, approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S each year, equaling 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second! That’s a whole lot of pizza…leftovers!