Do you remember The California Pizza Kitchen?
Sadly, most of them are closed now but it was the best! The Tostada Pizza was my absolute favorite. Now I sadly know better, but I used to eat a whole pizza all by myself – I used to be a bottomless pit. Hopefully, it doesn’t catch up with me someday.
The layers of the pizza went like this: crust on the bottom (crispy is best, in my opinion!), refried black beans seasoned with garlic powder and cumin, seasoned ground beef, melted cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, and a drizzle of ranch dressing.
It. Was. Divine.
All the flavors so perfectly went together and all of the glorious spices of cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne came together in harmony.
And then they closed.
My mom had the original idea of making our own version of the Tostada pizza. This is a slight rendition from the one we made, and I no longer use the ranch drizzle – but feel free if you like that! It definitely adds something wonderful, my husband doesn’t like ranch and so I would rarely use it before it all went bad. Perhaps I’ll have to just get some small packets just for this. 🙂
This dinner can be whipped up in about 30-45 minutes and I usually have leftover toppings which make a great and filling salad for the next day.
For the crust, my husband and I really enjoy the cauliflower plain crusts that are readily available in most supermarkets. We’ve tried quite a few and we prefer to eat the most “natural” ones possible. Cappella’s brand has been nice, but they are expensive and very small. The Caulipower is also a great brand that doesn’t add too many extra “unpronounceables” (ingredients you can’t say and probably shouldn’t eat). There are also some great cauliflower crust recipes out there! Typically when we make taco pizza it’s because I’m a little “cooked out” and need something simple and mindless, so I like to take the frozen shortcut.
The meat can be interchanged with ground bison, beef, or chicken. You could even do ground pork if you wanted to make your own chorizo topping!
Have fun with this – if you don’t have an avocado that’s okay. If you don’t have tomatoes, that’s okay. Use salsa if you don’t want to cut tomatoes. Use guacamole if you don’t want to buy plain avocados. Try Greek yogurt instead of the ranch dressing or sour cream. The options are truly endless.
The method for this pizza is designed to make it as seamless and efficient as possible. If you want to make the ground beef and the beans ahead of time, feel free, but I suggest heating them up again before topping the pizza. The reason for that is that the crust (especially if you are using gluten-free) can get soggy really quickly, so I like to cook my crust 90% of the way before adding any toppings and then just finishing it in the oven to melt the cheese before serving. Consequently, if you are using cold beans and meat, you may need to cook longer in order to heat through.
Makes up to 2 Small Pizzas
For the Ground Beef:
1 # Ground meat of choice
1/2 Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
2 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Oregano
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Chipotle Powder
1 tsp Cayenne or red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Can Black Beans, drained
1/4-1/2 Cup fresh water
1/2 Onion Diced
1 Garlic Clove minced
1 Tbsp Cumin
1/2 Tbsp Oregano
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Pizza Crust of choice
1-2 big handfuls of cheddar cheese
1/2 head Iceberg Lettuce, thin sliced
1 Avocado, diced
1 Tomato, diced
1 Lime, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 425 F (or temp according to pizza crust instructions)
1. dice 1 whole onion and divide in half. Mince 3 garlic cloves and separate them into 2/3 and 1/3.
2. In a large saute pan, heat oil and add in half onion and 2 cloves of garlic. Saute on medium-low until slightly translucent. Add in the ground beef, season with salt, and cook fully.
3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepot, add in the drained beans, water (just enough to come half-way to two-thirds up the beans) the 1 minced garlic clove, and the other half of the diced onion. Cook on medium, stirring often and smashing the beans until they become a paste. Add more water if it becomes fully absorbed before the beans are mashed, or becomes too thick.
4. Once the meat is fully cooked, remove from the pan and strain it. Place the pan back on the heat, but lower to low. Add tomato paste (if using) to the same saute pan you were using for meat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly until it becomes a rust color. Add meat back into the pan and add in spices.
5. Once the oven comes to temperature, place the plain pizza crust in for 90% of the time required per package instructions. I.e. if the package says 15 minutes, cook the pizza for 10-12 minutes without toppings.
6. Cover the cooked meat and take off the burner but keep warm. Keep the beans warm as well.
7. Once the crust is turning golden brown and looks mostly done, remove from the oven and top it first by spreading a layer of beans, then the beef, and then sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the beef.
8. Return the pizza back to the oven and cook for at least 5 more minutes until cheese is bubbling. While pizza is cooking, cut up the toppings as needed.
9. Remove from the oven and place it on a cutting board. Cut the pizza into wedges and top or allow guests to take the slices as is, and top their own tableside, as desired.