French Bread Pizza with Herbed Ricotta, Spinach & Tomatoes
We all love pizza, but sometimes we crave something a little different. Enter the French bread pizza. Yes, French bread pizza tends to be a pretty traditional dish, honoring the age-old combination of marinara sauce, sausage and melted mozzarella cheese. But why not redefine the French bread pizza in a simple, new way? My version of French bread pizza with herbed ricotta, spinach and tomatoes is just that, an updated, fun way to enjoy a classic.
To make this pizza, start with a fresh whole-wheat baguette. Slice it and brush it with a garlic-infused olive oil. After a little toasting in the oven, top it with low-fat ricotta that’s been combined with thyme and oregano. Then add a layer of fresh spinach, sliced tomatoes and a dusting of shredded cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted to perfection and serve it with a side of marinara sauce for dipping.
Not only does this turn a simple dish into a sophisticated one, but it can also be a more nutritious way to enjoy pizza. Choose a whole wheat baguette for the base. This way you’ll get more whole grains which equals more nutrition in the way of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Then add plenty of nutritious flavor with fresh garlic and herbs. Finally, top it all with fresh spinach (loaded with iron, B vitamins and vitamin C) and ripe, red tomatoes (a nutritious source of vitamins A and C as well as the powerful antioxidant lycopene.)
Food Safety Tip: This is a great meal for a crowd, but just like other food you serve at parties, keep track of how long it’s been sitting out on the buffet table. Set a timer to go off when 2 hours have passed. After that, the food is no longer considered safe to eat. Better yet, set the timer for 1 1/2 hours and notify your guests when it goes off that “last call” on the pizza has been issued.
French Bread Pizza with Herbed Ricotta, Spinach and Tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced (a fine grater works well here)
- 1 loaf whole wheat baguette (about 12-16 ounces)
- ¾ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese or mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup marinara sauce, warmed
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a sheet pan with foil.
- Combine the olive oil and the garlic in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- Cut the baguette in half horizontally. Then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place the sliced bread on the sheet pan.
- Using a pastry brush, brush the oil and garlic mixture on the cut side of each piece of bread. Place in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
- Spread the ricotta evenly over the top of each piece of bread. Sprinkle with thyme, oregano and salt. Cover the top of each piece with spinach leaves and tomato slices. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and return to the oven. Bake an additional 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden and bubbly.
- Remove pizzas from the pan and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.
Sara Haas, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based dietitian and chef. She currently works with Roche Dietitians as well as Centered Chef, is a Food & Nutrition contributing editor, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson, and is also the voice of The Eating Right Minute, a public service announcement of the Academy that airs daily on WBBM Newsradio, 780 and 105.9 FM. Find her helpful lifestyle tips on Twitter.