Summertime is in full swing now, and I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. My family and I traveled down to Amelia Island on the Florida coast and enjoyed the long weekend on Fernandina Beach. We had the best time eating delicious food, often overlooking the ocean, and shopping in the downtown area, albeit in a little bit of rain. We watched the fireworks from the beach, and at night time where the dark sky meets the sea, the explosions of color were truly spectacular.
As I write this, Tropical Storm Elsa has just passed through our area. We lost power for a few hours and had a large downed tree limb in the backyard, but are otherwise OK.
Speaking of being OK, one food that always makes me feel right with the world is pepperoni pizza. What is it about pizza and cheesy goodness that’s the ultimate comfort? From the time we’re kids, pizza is immediately associated with fun. Do you remember what it felt like as an elementary or middle school student knowing that Friday was pizza day in the cafeteria at school, or having a pizza party in class to celebrate the year’s end? Wherever there was pizza, there was a good time.
With that in mind, I have what may be one of the most delicious and easy recipes I’ve ever shared. Inspired by Sal’s Pizzeria, one of my favorite Italian restaurants on St. Simons Island, it’s my Pepperoni Ciabatta Bread. Sal’s serves a cheesy bread appetizer with marinara sauce, baked in a wood fired oven, that got me thinking about this idea.
Ciabatta bread is elongated, broad and flat, unique for its holes, commonly found in artisan breads. I recently learned Ciabatta was invented in 1982 by a baker in Rovigo, Veneto, Italy due to an overwhelming affinity towards French baguettes, which had taken Europe by storm.
Pick up a fresh baked loaf on your next trip to the farmers’ market. Perfect for slicing in wide widths, I drizzle the bread with Georgia olive oil and bake it at 425 degrees for about seven minutes just until it’s crispy.
Then the bread gets topped with pizza sauce, homegrown tomatoes, shredded mozzarella and pepperoni, and browned under the broiler. I sprinkle on red pepper flakes for a little heat, freshly grated parmesan cheese and garden fresh basil to finish.
Pepperoni Ciabatta Bread can be made in a toaster oven or on the grill, and served as a handheld appetizer for friends, or as a dinner for two with a salad to boot. You can customize it to your liking too: Try it with peppers and onions or meatless. The options are endless, and the recipe is really pure assembly.
I’m here to tell you it is Some Kinda Good. Make it any time of year for a pizza party you won’t soon forget. To see this recipe featured on video, connect with me on social media.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season. Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.
Pepperoni Ciabatta Bread
1 loaf freshly baked ciabatta bread
3 tablespoons Georgia olive oil
Store bought jarred pizza sauce
3 small tomatoes, sliced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 bunch fresh basil, chiffonade
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice ciabatta loaf into ¼ inch slices and place on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for seven minutes. Meanwhile, slice and season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top each slice with pizza sauce, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. Turn the oven to broil and bake for 3 - 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Allow to cool just slightly, and if desired, garnish with red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese and fresh basil.