When I was in college, I lived above a Ben and Jerry's. People were always amazed that I could resist. They wondered how I could manage to not eat ice cream every day. But ice cream wasn't that big of a draw for me.
For me, it was Pizza. All I have to do is think about and I can taste it. I can feel and hear the crunch of the crust and taste the tangy sauce and cheesy goodness.
Sadly, though. It's been about 10 years since I've really been able to enjoy a "real," piece of pizza. Ten years ago, I discovered that many of the health issues that I was experiencing were due to tomatoes. At first I tried to limit my intake. I used to say that I ate tomatoes "socially," kind of like being a social drinker. But after a short amount of time, it became clear that even a small amount had big consequences and I gave them up for good.
Pizza has become an even greater challenge for my family now that half of us try not to eat wheat and two of my sons shouldn't have cheese. A wheat-free, tomato-free, cheese-free pizza does exist, but, by definition, I'm not really sure you can still call it pizza.
A few weeks ago, I bought some italian sausage and I figured I would use it to make pasta. I started cooking it with onions. Since I had a bunch of green peppers, I decided to add some and immediately my kitchen started to smell like pizza.
I gathered some other ingredients, and pizza pasta was born.
It was an instant hit. My son asked if I could make it every night.
It was also a fairy easy meal to make (and would be even easier for families that don't have to make 3 different versions like I did because of all of our food "issues.") Plus, once you've made it the first time, you don't even need the recipe anymore- it's that easy!
1/2 lb Sweet Italian Sausage
1 small yellow onion- chopped
1/2 green pepper-chopped
4 oz. chopped mushrooms
@1/2 can black olives- sliced
pasta of choice
several slices of pepperoni sliced chopped into tiny pieces (not pictured)
Mozzarella and/ or Parmesan Cheese (optional- also not pictured)
Additional Ingredients for Wheat/ Grain or Tomato-Free
Fresh or Frozen Cauliflower Florets
Roasted Red Peppers in Olive Oil and Garlic
Start by browning the sausage
Add onions. Cook in the "juices" released by the sausage.
Add green pepper and mushrooms. Cook to desired tenderness.
Add pepperoni and sauté for about one minute.
Add Olives and Tomato sauce.
*For tomato free version, drain the roasted red peppers. Put the peppers and garlic into a blender. Blend gently so that it is still a little chunky and not liquified. Use this in place of sauce. Cook for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to combine.
Toss the sauce with pasta. Or....
Gluten-Free Pasta. Or...
My favorite way to go "wheat-free," roast some cauliflower, and toss the sauce on top!
Pictured above is the Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, Tomato-Free Version
The great thing about this dish is that it is so versatile and can be changed based on preference or on what you have on hand . What are your family's favorite pizza toppings? What would you include in your version of Pizza Pasta?
Incidentally, my 4 year old who doesn't currently like any toppings on his pizza, will eat all of the "toppings," when made into pizza pasta. If your family is not very adventurous, try one "new," topping at a time. If they turn up their noses, ask them to take one bite and then eat around it if they don't like it. In my experience, over time, it becomes easier to just eat the food than eat around it, and they typically eat some by "mistake," and realize it's not so bad.
This post is linked up at Allergy-Free Wednesday. You can check it out lots of Allergy Friendly recipes at Whole New Mom or at this link: Allergy-Free Wednesday.