For many folks school lunches don’t bring up happy memories of eating good food. But, if your school experience was anything like ours then there were a few stand-out lunch items that really were very good, despite the bad reputation that school food has. One of our favorite school lunches was that rectangular pizza. It was never topped with pepperoni, but instead has a mixture of sausage and ground beef that made these pizza slices unique.
For this recipe you’ll start by making the dough. This mixture is made from flour, oil, and yeast, as one would expect. But, this dough has an unusual ingredient that we don’t normally see in pizza dough recipes: powdered skim milk. This ingredient was a staple in school cafeteria kitchens as it had a long shelf life and added body or flavor to many a recipe. And, we think that powdered milk is what gives the dough that same flavor that we remember from childhood.
Once you’ve got your dough mixed up and spread into a lined and greased baking pan you pre-bake the crust for 6-8 minutes so that it comes out perfectly done when all the toppings are on and its baked a final time.
The next step is to brown a mixture of ground beef and sausage and you’ll want to break up the meat as finely as possible to mimic the school pizzas of yore. This is the other thing that makes it taste just like we stepped back in time. You don’t find this mix on a lot of pizzas today, but boy is it good!
Next spread out ready made pizza sauce on top of the pre-baked dough. We find that there really is no substitute for pizza sauce since it has a different flavor profile and moisture content to spaghetti sauce. It also has a sweetness to it that is important to the finished taste.
Sprinkle Italian seasoning over the sauce, followed by some black pepper. There’s no fresh garlic or artisanal ingredients here: it’s a very straightforward flavor profile we’re building here.
Top the sauce with the meat, then top the whole thing with shredded mozzarella. you really want to take the toppings to the edges on this one since there really wasn’t a lot of “extra” crust on school lunch pizzas.
Bake at 475˚F for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is browning at the edges. Don’t under-bake or you may end up with a soggy crust.
Slice into 5″x6″ rectangles and serve immediately. For extra nostalgia you might serve this with apple slices, or baby carrots, or even fruit cocktail- just like the lunch ladies used to.
Lunch Lady Square Pizza
Makes 8 pieces of pizza
30m prep time
25m cook time
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 3/4-oz packet quick-rise yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 2/3 cups warm water
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 lb Italian sausage
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 12-oz jar pizza sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Pepper to taste
- 8 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 475˚F. Grease an 18”x13”x3/4" baking pan and line with parchment paper.
- Microwave water for 30-60 seconds until just warm. Do not overheat. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, milk powder, sugar, yeast and salt. Add oil to warm water and stir, then add to flour mixture and stir just until dough forms.
- Pour dough onto pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before spreading dough to edges of pan. Make sure each corner is covered and that dough is an even thickness all around. Bake crust for 6-8 minutes.
- While crust is baking brown sausage and ground beef over medium heat, breaking up the meat into as small of bits as possible with a spatula or spoon.
- Top crust with pizza sauce and Italian seasoning and pepper. Add meat on top in an even layer. Sprinkle cheese on top of meat and return pizza to oven for 8-10 or until cheese is beginning to brown and bubble.
- Slice into roughly 5”x6” rectangles and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Foodstastic Mom.