When my sons were little, pizza was served as a reward for a good report card, to celebrate a good game or a fun day at school. Sometimes even to enjoy with their friends who came over for sleepovers. And for me, it was my night off because then I didn’t have to cook.
One day, I ran out of pizza dough. To make semi-homemade pizza, I used to buy raw pizza dough from a neighborhood artisan pizza restaurant (yes, you can do that, too). Or I would buy the generic store-bought pizza dough. If I had plenty of time, I made pizza dough from scratch.
That night, minutes before meal time, I had absolutely no options and it was too late to jump into the car to drive to the grocery. When I opened my refrigerator to decide what to do next, I saw a pack of wonton skins. The idea hit me. I could use the bare Asian wontons as a pizza base.
I deep fried the wontons in a hot skillet a few at a time. It only took seconds to bring the wonton to life. Once I dipped the uncooked, soft piece into the frying pan, the edges turned golden brown and curled up slightly. So after a whole batch of 24 pieces of crisp wontons was ready, I piled on the pizza fillings. Just before serving, I popped the mini pizzas into the toaster oven. In minutes, the cheese topping melted and sizzled onto the ground beef filling, seeping down on the peppers, onions and pizza sauce. My family enjoyed the crackle of the thin pizza crust made of wontons which was a great backdrop to the savory beef filling and the fresh-tasting peppers.
Since that time I first made these pizza beef wontons from sheer lack of dough ingredients, I have served these bite-sized appetizers to my family and friends at potlucks, showers, birthday parties and many fun celebrations.
Sometimes when you lack an ingredient, the next best substitute can turn out to be the “breakout star” of the dish and that’s what makes a meal so memorable.