If you aren’t familiar with her show, Sandra Lee hosts Semi-Homemade on the Food Network, which is where she creatively combines pre-packaged foods with other ingredients to create unique and time-saving meals. She’s received criticism for lacking real cooking skills, but in my mind her ideas are no less inventive than using exclusively fresh ingredients. For example, she loves using store bought rotisserie chicken as a base for pot pie. This kind of shortcut-minded thinking has a place in any kitchen, regardless of the ingredients you use.
The way I shop now has almost entirely scrapped any of the pre-packaged stuff I used to consume in college. I primarily purchase from a farmers market, then supplement my pantry with whole ingredients from the grocery store. I consider it a smart lifestyle choice to cook and eat this way because knowing exactly what I’m putting into my body is healthier than blindly diving into a plate full of chemicals, preservatives, and colorings. Additionally, it’s super convenient to cook large meals, which I split up and freeze for easy reheating. The last TV dinner I ate was locally made and was purchased at a farmers market.
Not too long ago, I was still doing the majority of my shopping in the center aisles at my local mega mart, and every visit included a trip through the frozen foods section to hunt for pizza sales. This was also right around the time I first caught Sandra Lee working her magic on Semi-Homemade. It was under these circumstances that I created my version of gussied up frozen pizza. While I’ve prepared it many times since then (especially as a quick party appetizer), I hadn’t thought to make this garlicy treat for a while since banishing convenience foods from my home. On a whim, I found the wheels of my shopping cart turning down the chilly frozen foods aisle, stirring up memories and a hunger for my yummy pizza concoction.
While this method would work perfectly well on some freshly homemade pizza, I have a spot in my heart for that crispy fresh-from-the-freezer crust, as well as the ridiculously convenient preparation.
Begin with any frozen pizza. I like to use one with minimal toppings so my additions properly shine through. Margherita pizzas are my favorite. On this occasion I grabbed one from Newman’s Own.
Begin by preheating your oven to the temperature listed on the box, then thinly slice up some peeled garlic. I go for about four nice big cloves. The thickness of the slices will determine the garlicy bite intensity, which is why I try to get them as thin as possible using a slicer with a nice sharp ceramic blade. In a small bowl, mix the sliced garlic with about a half teaspoon of olive oil and a big pinch of kosher salt.
The salt helps flavor the garlic, and the oil will help it cook, taking off the raw edges and producing a bit of sweetness. Spread this evenly on top of the pizza, then drizzle just a little more olive oil over the whole thing.
Add any additional herbs and spices per your preference. I like a few dashes of dried oregano, some dried thyme, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss it in the oven and cook per the directions on the box.
When it comes out, the surface should have some nice browned spots thanks to the extra olive oil, and the garlic will have cooked ever so slightly in the heat of the oven.
Finally, drizzle on some red wine vinegar to cut through the richness of the cheese and give the whole thing a nice tart bite. Slice up your pizza and serve with some of the classiest two-dollar wine you can find. Enjoy!