Long before the big game even begins, there is one thing I can always bet on: Everyone at my house will be hungry by halftime.

I’m sure I’m not alone. When the whistle’s blown on the second quarter, there will be a living room full of people looking for something hot and hearty to bolster them, at least long enough to get through the halftime show.

When that time comes, Meatball and Ricotta French Bread Pizza will be there for you.

I love this dish for a crowd, as you can cut the French bread into as many slices or squares as necessary to make sure everyone gets a bite a two. It can be a small part of a big potluck table, or a large part of a more intimate affair, that may include some chips and dip and a couple of salads.

No matter how big the spread, this brawny, easy pizza will deliver.

It starts with the meatballs. Parmesan cheese and garlic give these oven-browned meatballs loads of flavor.

While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, another dose of garlic is delivered in the form of a highly seasoned olive oil, which serves double duty, as it’s brushed on the bread before it gets a prebaking in the oven for added crunch. The oil also forms the base of a potent tomato sauce that’s spiked with a generous amount of fresh basil.

Once the bread is out of the oven, it gets a liberal slathering of the potent sauce, before the meatballs are arranged over the top, along with dollops of creamy ricotta cheese. A sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese provides a finishing touch. The pizzas are baked just long enough to heat the toppings, then cut into slices or squares.

Because the meatballs and sauce can be made in advance, it will only take you minutes to throw together this winning appetizer.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredithdeeds@gmail.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at

@meredithdeeds.