Can we just talk about pizza for a minute? Tomatoes. Cheese. Carbs. The trifecta of Italian food. As a college student, I can tell you all you want to know about pizza: Hungry Howie’s has the best deals and coupons; Home Slice is, by far, the best slice in town (but a $20 margherita isn’t exactly in my budget most of the time); and Red House Pizzeria is a pretty fantastic middle-ground between high-quality pizza and reasonable prices (it doesn’t get much better than half-price pizzas during a daily happy hour). But there’s no need to get fancy here; I think it’s a graduation requirement to know at least one Domino’s employee on a first-name basis. Also P.S. The Mr. Gatti’s on MLK definitely does NOT check the expiration date for BOGO coupons. (I think the only time I draw the line for pizza is Kinsolving. Vom.)
We at The First Kitchen are no strangers to pizza — usually there’s a frozen container of pizza sauce in the freezer, mozzarella cheese in the fridge, and a bookmarked pizza dough recipe on the laptop. During finals and midterms, pizza is our fuel of choice. It’s also an easy way to bring vegetarians and omnivores to the same table (a challenge that has been made much easier since Jeff started inhaling large quantities of meat at an alarmingly rapid pace).
Unfortunately, studies show that constant pizza consumption has empirically caused wallet shrinkage and, uh, my pant size to augment. Recently though, Mama Pea of Peas and Thank You (yes… I read a food blog that also is sort of a mommy blog…) posted a recipe titled “Quinoa Pizza Casserole.”
Let’s say it again: “Quinoa Pizza Casserole.” Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah for those of you who don’t live inside the bulk aisle of HEB like I do) has protein, fiber, antioxidants, and iron. It also prevents migraines, gallstones, and heart disease. It’s also freakin’ delish and CHEAP if you buy it in bulk. Casserole (pronounced CASS-er-ole for those of you who have never been to a Baptist potluck) means I can throw a bunch of stuff in a dish and let it hang out in the oven for a while. Quinoa pizza casserole… you had me from hello.
I made this the other day and explicitly requested that the roommates not eat anymore so that I could save a small serving for lunch today. I just found the empty Tupperware container in the sink. It’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’s easy, and it’s totally pack-away-able for lunches at school.
Quinoa Pizza Casserole, serves 4 to 6 as a main dish. Adapted from Peas and Thank You.
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 c. vegetable broth
1/2 t. oregano
1/2 t. basil
1/2 t. smoked paprika
sprinkle of cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 T. dried minced onion (or 2 T. fresh)
1/4 c. nutritional yeast (can be found in your natural foods and/or bulk foods aisle)
1/4 c. raw cashews
1 1/2 T. yellow or white miso (can be found in the refrigerated section of Whole Foods or an Asian market/specialty store. I’ve also heard of people buying small portions in paper cups from a sushi place)
One 14.5 oz. can organic fire-roasted tomatoes, drained (reserve juice)
salt and pepper to taste
Desired pizza toppings (cheese, veg, meat)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, if baking immediately. In a pot, bring to boil quinoa and vegetable broth. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and grains are fluffy. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine oregano, basil, paprika, cayenne, garlic, onion, nutritional yeast, cashews and miso. Add enough liquid from the canned tomatoes to get the mixture to blend smoothly. Then add the remaining tomatoes and pulse until combined but still chunky. Add the “pizza sauce” to the cooked quinoa and stir until combined. You can add salt and pepper to taste. I also added some of my “toppings” – cheese and spinach. Transfer the mixture to a prepared baking dish and cover it and stash it in the fridge. Or bake immediately, uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and top is slightly browned. To serve, put a scoop of quinoa in the bowl and top it with your pizza toppings.