Back when I had a cafe in uptown Toronto, one of the most popular quick meals we sold was the gluten-free pizza bagel.
We just took one of our popular gluten-free bagels, cut it in half, slapped on some chopped vegetables, topped it with slices of organic cheese, popped them into a toaster oven and in less than 10 minutes, you had a healthy lunch in your hands.
I LOVED MY TOASTER OVEN.
I also had one at home, despite having both a regular oven and a toaster.
Sadly, it’s given up on me and I’m in the market for a new one. But when I had it, it prompted me to create quick little meals that just seem so much more complicated if it involved a conventional oven. Now, you don’t necessarily need to run out and get a toaster oven for this one. A regular oven will do.
By the way, this yummy meal is kid-approved (I have three picky kids) and it is completely lunchable. Did I mention that it’s also vegan?
- An Organic Oven gluten-free vegan bagel (I prefer the multigrain)
- Organic pizza sauce (I like to make my own but if you’re really strapped for time, you can use a thin layer of organic ketchup — yes, I said ketchup)
- Any favourite pizza toppings (I like chopped up tomatoes, sweet peppers and onions)
- Cheese slices (For this one, I’m using Daiya’s Provolone Style Slices, but if you can have dairy, go ahead and use good-old-fashioned pizza mozzarella)
Start by cutting the bagel in half and laying it flat on a cookie sheet.
Spread the ketchup or pizza sauce on top of each half.
Top with your favourite toppings. Sometimes I put large slices of veggies. Sometimes I chop them into little pieces bruschetta-style. Do what makes you happy!
Top each half with a slice of cheese (I like to put two because… I love cheese). (I like to put all the toppings under the cheese, except for the onions. I like to slice the onions into rings and put them on top of the cheese. I think it looks cool. Lol.)
I also like to sprinkle some freshly-ground black pepper on mine. Some of our customers liked dried red pepper flakes.
Put it in a pre-heated toaster oven at 350 degrees Farenheit.
I usually wait until the cheese has melted to my liking, and the bread is slightly crunchy. (I generally don’t like crunchy pizza but I LOVE crunchy pizza bagels.) Keep in mind that it may take longer if you are using a large conventional oven. (My magic numbers are 7 minutes in a toaster oven and 12 minutes in a conventional oven, rotating it at least once.)
Slice. Plate. Enjoy.
Hold the sauce!
My eldest daughter is just like her daddy.
Those two hate tomato sauce and basil.
I have no idea why.
An alternative that we offered at the cafe was to drizzle each bagel half with extra virgin olive oil and thin slices of fresh organic tomatoes. The juices and flavours from the tomatoes provides a natural sauce as it cooks, and it ensures that the final product isn’t too dry.
Believe it or not, you can make a bunch of these in advance and then freeze them.
I have to warn you, though. Daiya cheeses have gotten extra melty over the years (WHICH I LOVE). So, here are some tips and tricks to help keep the cheese on your pizza and not on your containers.
First cool the pizzas to room temperature and lay them flat, side-by-side on a cookie sheet.
Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour (or until the cheese is noticeably harder).
Stack them on top of each other, using pieces of parchment to separate them.
Store in a container or large Ziplock bag.
Sometimes, I just wrap each one individually in cling wrap and then stack them inside a bag.
You can thaw one overnight in the fridge or throw it straight into a lunch bag.
I usually re-heat my daughter’s pizzas in the morning if I have time, and then I throw it into a heat-safe container.
If a classroom or lunchroom has a microwave then I just throw it in my daughter’s lunch bag frozen and she can heat it up at school.
(My daughter is in kindergarten and I was pretty surprised to find they had access to a fridge and a microwave. But I usually give her lunches that can be eaten as-is and stores well in a lunch bag all day.)