Cherry Tomatoes Stand In For Crust When Making Pizza Poppers

No matter where you are in the world, pizza is on most people's favorite foods list. Its blend of savory, herby, cheesy flavors has inspired many other recipes, from pizza-flavored chips and bagel bites to baked pizza pasta. While most of these iterations provide a carbohydrate staple like pasta, bagels, or potato chips to substitute pizza crusts, pizza poppers capture the essence of pizza without the dough. Instead, they use cherry tomatoes as a healthy two-for-one ingredient that acts as crust and sauce.

In a recent viral Instagram post, wellness and lifestyle podcaster, author, and influencer Liz Moody shows us how to make pizza poppers using cherry tomatoes, shredded mozzarella, dried herbs, and seasonings. She starts by spreading cherry tomato halves over a baking pan, cut-side up. Next, they're drizzled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano, and roasted in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The tomato skins blister and crisp up for the stand-in crust, while the insides still retain sauce-like juiciness.

Once the tomatoes roast, you take them out of the oven, sprinkle them with your favorite cheese, and slot them back in for around 5 minutes to melt. The resulting crispy, bite-sized pizza poppers pack a punch of sweetness and umami from the roasted tomatoes, saltiness and creaminess from the cheese, and earthiness from the olive oil and oregano.

Pizza popper ideas

Pizza poppers are healthy, easy snacks that satisfy vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-carb diets. You can customize them with your favorite seasonings and cheeses. The types of cheese you choose can diversify the flavor and texture of pizza poppers; for instance, cheddar would add sharpness, mozzarella a mellow, creamy flavor, and Parmesan a blast of saltiness. You could even place on a small dollop of ricotta for an ultra-indulgent popper.

Liz Moody asserts that oregano is responsible for the pizza flavor, but you could always add basil, fennel seeds, or powdered garlic to invoke other pizza varieties; fennel seeds are common in Italian sausage, basil is often a topping for margherita pizzas, and most pizza sauce recipes contain garlic. For even more flavor, you can finish your pizza poppers with a drizzle of balsamic reduction or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. If you're a carnivore, you could place the roasted tomatoes atop toasted pepperoni for a meat-lovers' pizza popper.

While they're perfect to eat on their own, you can also use the roasted tomato snacks as a garnish for sandwiches and salads. They'd provide a delicious umami pop for a simple Caesar salad and would also pair perfectly with Italian deli meats in a classic Muffuletta sandwich. You could add a bowl of moreish pizza poppers to an Italian charcuterie board, or use them as a topping for garlic bread, focaccia, or crostini.