Meatball and Ricotta French Bread Pizza

Serves 6 as main course, 8 to 10 as appetizer.

Note: Meaty and cheesy, this hearty pizza will keep the crowd happy on game day and any other day. Panko breadcrumbs are larger and lighter than the traditional crumb, which could be substituted. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. milk

• 1/2 lb. ground beef (85% lean)

• 1/4 lb. bulk Italian sausage

• 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, plus 4 garlic cloves finely minced, divided

• 1 egg, lightly beaten

• 1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

• 1 large loaf French or Italian bread (see Note), about 4 by 18 inches, split in half lengthwise and crosswise

• 1 (14.5-oz.) can crushed tomatoes

• 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil

• 1/2 c. whole milk ricotta


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

To make the meatballs: In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the beef, sausage, 1 chopped garlic clove, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and mix thoroughly. Form into 10 meatballs and place on baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from oven. Let cool and cut each meatball into quarters.

To make the pizza: In a small saucepan, combine olive oil, 4 minced garlic cloves, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant. Do not let the garlic brown. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Brush the cut sides of the French bread with 3 tablespoons oil mixture and place on a large, rimmed baking sheet (cut crosswise if necessary). Bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the remaining olive oil mixture in the saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Add the basil.

Spread the sauce evenly over the cut sides of the bread (still on baking sheet). Top with meatballs and small dollops of ricotta. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the top. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until toppings are hot. Cut into slices, as desired, and serve.

Nutrition information per each of 10 servings:

Calories 330 Fat 17 g Sodium 760 mg

Carbohydrates 30 g Saturated fat 5 g Added sugars 0 g

Protein 15 g Cholesterol 50 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 starch, 1 medium-fat protein, 2 fat.