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My early school years took place primarily in the 90’s, and I remember the cafeteria serving up super cheesy rectangles of pizza on a thin crust every Friday. Everyone looked forward to Pizza Friday! As I grew older, I realized that “rectangle pizza” was a more widespread thing that existed in many schools other than my small lil’ educational establishment in East Tennessee.
While I’m sure school cafeterias had their own standardized way of preparing these pizzas on endless, massive sheet pans to be sold to hungry kiddos, you can create a very close substitute of school cafeteria pizza at home to help relive some childhood memories.
To keep things easy, I used a ball of premade dough that I found at my regular grocery store (Kroger). I recommend you do the same if you don’t want to make a homemade dough. You technically could use the canned pizza dough, but because this pizza is made in a large 10×15″ baking sheet, the dough from the cans will be very, very thin when pressed into the pan.
As far as toppings, I remember my school mostly serving the plain cheese variety, though on some days there were meat varieties offered. You can stick to those basic options for your homemade school lunch pizza, but you can also load it up with any of your favorite protein or veggie toppings.
To me, one key feature of classic school rectangle pizza is the fact that there is very little visible crust around the outside. To achieve an authentic look, spread the sauce and toppings allll the way to the edge of the crust.
Want to make things a little healthier? Consider a whole wheat crust to increase the fiber and complex carbohydrate content. Use a part-skim mozzarella and use a lean protein such as cooked chicken or lean ground turkey.
Even if you’re not seeking a hit of nostalgia with this meal, it’s also just an easy way to make a big and simple pizza for the family for your own at-home Pizza Fridays. Enjoy this school pizza recipe!!
|Rectangle Cafeteria Pizza | School Lunch Copycat|| |
- Approx 1lb pizza dough (see notes)
- Olive oil and cornmeal/semolina flour for preparing the pan
- 1 8oz can tomato sauce
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- 1 TBS Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- Pinch of black pepper
- ½ tsp sugar
- Toppings: Cooked ground beef or sausage, chopped pepperoni, cooked onions or mushrooms, cooked bell peppers, etc. I used 1lb of cooked ground sausage.
- 1 8oz bag of mozzarella cheese, shredded - more if desired.
- Preheat oven to 425F. Brush a 10x15 baking pan with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a small amount of cornmeal or semolina flour. Use your fingertips to press the dough into the pan, keeping the dough even in thickness all the way to the edge.
- Brush the top of the dough with more olive oil and use a fork to create pricks all over. Bake for 5-7 minutes. If bubbles begin to form while baking, reach in with a fork and poke them to let the gas escape.
- While crust is pre-baking, mix together the tomato sauce, tomato paste, italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and sugar. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed - add a bit more sugar if sauce still tastes too acidic.
- Spread sauce over pre-baked crust, going all the way to the edge. Top with meat, veggies, pepperoni, or any other desired toppings. Add a generous layer of mozzarella cheese on top.
- To recreate the look of a school pizza, have the toppings and cheese go all the way to the edge of the crust.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into rectangles and serve.
You can also use a canned pizza dough if you want, but your crust will be quite a bit thinner as those cans are usually 10-12oz.
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