I’m a big fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Her cookbooks offer a great mix of simple and elaborate recipes, many of which have at least one unique element that makes them fun to cook. I fell in love with her latest, Isa Does It, the moment I first laid hands on it at the library. It’s big, it’s pretty and it has an entire chapter dedicated to “the bowl.”
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of “the bowl,” too. I’ve come up with several of them myself and they’re often my go-to recipes when I want a comforting lunch or need a quick dinner. So of course when I saw that the bowl chapter contained a recipe entitled “Pizza Bowl,” I had to make it. Heck, I had to buy the book.
The recipe is exactly what it sounds like: pizza turned into a bowl, complete with grains, greens and a protein; in this case, vegan sausages. There’s a bunch of sliced garlic and some red onion in it, too, along with a topping of sliced black olives. It’s a bit different from the basic cooked grain/steamed green/warmed protein model as the kale, onions, garlic and sausage all get sauteed together, but doing so helps to infuse the flavor of the garlic into everything and get it a bit toasty. And then, of course, there’s the “cheese.”
The “cheese” on this pizza is a cashew sauce made with some garlic, tomato paste and roasted red pepper. Now, nut-based sauces freak me out a bit. After struggling with anorexia/bulimia and disordered eating in general for several years, there are still a few things that I find scary, and anything that’s super heavy on nuts, coconut or avocado falls into that category. But I’ve been trying to “make peace” with those foods, so I didn’t make any substitutions in ingredients or quantity for this recipe.
I’m glad I didn’t. Though it wound up being a bit too much sauce for my taste, the texture was smooth and the flavor was lovely and lemony with a hint of tomato and pepper flavors. It did kind of smother the bowl, which I don’t think was the point, but what’s a bowl without a good sauce?
This is a concept that you can really take and run with. You’re by no means restricted to the toppings in the recipe–in fact, there’s a sidebar note to that effect in the book. Just about anything you’d put on a pizza would taste good here: mushrooms, peppers (or more roasted peppers!), tomatoes, broccoli…you could probably even get away with eggplant if you were feeling enterprising, though I think roasted eggplant would be better! If you think of the rice and kale as the base or “crust,” it opens up a limitless amount of possibilities.
Personally, if I were to make this again (and I have no excuse for not having done so yet), I’d add a few mushrooms or possibly replace the sausages with mushrooms, use more kale and decrease the amount of sauce. I would also make the sauce a bit closer to serving time to ensure that it didn’t cool the rest of the bowl down; I like my food HOT! I can’t say I would make any changes bigger than that–this was pretty darn awesome!
The only downside to my pizza bowl experience was that I anticipated making it for so long that it couldn’t live up to my mental expectations. That’s not to say it wasn’t tasty, because it was, but you know how looking forward to something can make you build it up in your mind a little too much. I still think that pizza in a bowl is a brilliant concept, and my only true complaint is that I didn’t think of it first!
But then again, that’s what’s so awesome about the vegan blog and cookbook community: there’s a bunch of talented people out there thinking up these recipes all the time for the rest of us to take a crack at, toy with and generally enjoy. My hat goes off to Isa for this one!