Pizza with Baked Meatballs

"Avanzi means ‘leftovers,' in Italian," says Matt Jennings, who often made this pizza on Fridays with his host family in Florence, using leftovers from the week of cooking. He urges people to get creative: "Char cucumbers and sprinkle feta on top. We've even put toasted ground nuts, dried fruit and canned beans on the avanzi—although not necessarily at the same time!" Slideshow:  More Pizza Recipes 

Pizza with Baked Meatballs
Photo: © Fredrika Stjärne
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tablespoons panko

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound ground beef chuck

  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

  • Two 8-ounce balls of pizza dough, at room temperature

  • 1 cup basil leaves


  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Brush a large ceramic baking dish with olive oil. In a large bowl, whisk the egg. Stir in the panko, garlic, parsley, 1/4 cup of the cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Add the ground beef and gently knead to combine. Form the mixture into 1-inch meatballs and transfer to the baking dish. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning once, until browned.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat until bubbling.

  3. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce, cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes. With a large spoon, mash the meatballs into large chunks. Remove from the heat.

  4. Meanwhile, brush 2 large baking sheets with olive oil and preheat in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. On a lightly floured work surface, cut each ball of dough in half. Roll each piece into a 10-inch oval. Arrange the dough on the heated baking sheets. Bake for about 7 minutes, shifting the pans halfway through baking, until lightly golden on top.

  5. Spread the meatball sauce over the crusts, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the rims. Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup of cheese. Bake for about 5 minutes, until the crust is crisp on the bottom and the cheese is melted. Scatter basil leaves over the pizzas and serve hot.

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