This is how relationships go.
You spend the first little while – six months, maybe – trying to be impressive as hell, your sparklingly best version of yourself. Even if you are a real, down-to-earth, no artifice kind of person, this is just how humans roll. We want to be loved and accepted for who we are, but it’s much easier to reveal the best parts first, the parts that are easy to love.
You and your new particular friend may do new and interesting things.
Maybe you try exciting new hobbies or go on long walks or eat at interesting places you have always wanted to try. Maybe you sit through the boring lecture or sporting event because it lights them up. Maybe they do the same for you.
Whatever happens, you don’t fart out loud, and if you fart at all you keep a dog handy.
And then, somewhere around the six month or one-year mark, things begin to shift.
Contrary to popular cultural belief, this is where things start to get good.
Because it’s not the new adventures and the new food and the no-farting that make human relationships deep and wonderful (although all of those things definitely enhance life together).
It’s that part where you can exist in a space with another human and just be 100% who you are, the best and worst parts of yourself all at once without any effort or any need to go or do or be anything.
It’s when you allow yourself to relax enough to read at opposite ends of the couch together, and that’s the night without guilt or remorse or a shred of FOMO, even on Fridays and Saturdays where you start to feel hella old if you are in jammies by 9 but are secretly proud you made it even that late because you really wanted to put jammies back on around 5.
It’s sitting on the back porch in unseasonably warm weather, watching the earth spin as a planet moves across the sky. And that’s it.
It’s all of those nights where there is no pressure, no plan, a weekend off from running from thing to thing, a night in after being pulled in a million different directions, dealing with the slings and arrows of this mortal coil.
Maybe not every night. You don’t want things to get boring.
But just enough nights so that you can see how spending more time with your particular friend might just unwind into a whole new lifetime of love and adventure, even on nights when there is not much happening.
And this realization needs an appropriate snack: tater tot pizza.
You heard me: Tater. Motherfucking. Tot. Pizza.
I am not scared of salty language, but I will tell you that I am holding myself back from unleashing a torrent of curse words.
It’s just that fucking good.
Seriously. Tater tots + pizza sauce + cheese = perfection. Sheer, utter perfection.
This Saturday night, after a long walk and some bad news about a car (not mine, but still), this is the kind of easy, early night in food we needed.
Full disclosure: we ate the entire cast iron pan full of it. Zero scraps left.
And even more full disclosure: I won’t say this recipe is perfected as a pizza.
In fact, it’s still just a little bit messy and not quite the same all three times we have made it. The tots aren’t quite accepting of their role as a crust, and sometimes when you can’t wait for it to cool it ends up looking nothing like pizza and more like a bowl of deliciously crispy bits of potatoes slathered in tomato sauce and dripping with fresh mozzarella.
It’s kind of like how real life is with a new person after the new starts to wear off, just a bit if you’re lucky: comforting and warm, infinitely adaptable, and pretty good no matter how things turn out.
Tater Tot Pizza
One bag of tots
One jar of pizza sauce
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella
Whateverthefuck you like, toppings-wise
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. You can use a cast iron skillet, a pizza stone, or a baking sheet – stick that in the oven while it’s preheating.
Meanwhile, shred your cheese and get your toppings ready. No rush, and you’ll see why.
When the oven is hot, take out whatever you are heating (it will cool a little; that’s okay) and dump about 1/2 a bag of tots to cover the bottom. Get fancy, or don’t, but make one even layer. If you are using a pizza stone, allow a two-inch gap between tots and the edge of the stone.
Pop back in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes.
Pull the pan out and smash the tots into an even layer that climbs a bit up the sides of the pan or reaches out to the edge of the pizza stone.
Place back in the oven and cook until the tots are done and crispy on the top and sides.
When Khristian makes it on a pizza stone, he uses the edge of a spatula to press the tots towards the center, forming a sauce-containing structure.
Add your toppings, and put back in the oven until the cheese is bubbly and brown and delicious-looking.
Here’s the dumb part: after you take your pizza out of the oven you have to wait for at least ten minutes, probably more like 20.
It SUCKS. Truly. I am one of the least patient people, especially when it comes to tater tots and/or pizza.
However, waiting allows everything to firm up a bit and allows you at least the chance of picking this up like a pizza.
For me, I don’t give a crap if it looks like a pizza or not. At this point, I will put it in a bowl and be perfectly happy. When Khristian made it last night, though, it was more pizza-like than any of my creations, and he cooked for me, which made it taste EVEN BETTER.
However it turns out, it’s pretty much the most delicious thing ever.
- Tater tot “crowns” by Ore Ida may work better for a pizza stone (no rolling), and all Ore Ida fries are gluten-free.
- Why they give you two full cups of pizza sauce when you only need less than 1/4 cup for most pizza-making endeavors is beyond me. I portion the leftover out into 1/4-cup servings in ziplocs and freeze them flat until I need them.