I’m all about comfy, cozy power bowls. They warm the soul and offer a wide range of flavors, colors, and textures that serve as the perfect distraction for those ever-changing cravings that scamper in alongside the cold weather. Pesky little things, aren’t they?
The idea behind this power bowl is pretty straight forward: take a delicious meal, parse out each element, give everything a healthy twist, and nestle it all within a snazzy bowl. The tastiest thing I can think of on any given day is usually… PIZZA! So this La Vita è Bella Pizza Power Bowl is a deconstructed, veganized version of everyone’s Italian love.
The Crust | My childhood favorite pizza was deep dish from Gino’s East (to my fellow Chicagoans, Lou’s was always a close second). A thick layer of gooey mozzarella was nestled on top of a cornmeal crust and slathered with a simple tomato sauce. Something about that cornmeal crust got me every time. So the “crust” in this bowl is creamy polenta with garlic, oregano, basil, and olive oil.
The Toppings | I’ve always been partial to loads of veggies liberally strewn about a cheese-laden slice of ‘za. My go-to choices are mushrooms and spinach, so the “toppings” in this bowl are sautéed mushrooms, spinach, and yellow onion (for an added flavor kick).
The Sauce | I love lots and lots of sauce on both pizza and pasta, and it’s probably because I have what some might call “an obsession” with tomatoes. Obsessive? Nah. That’s amore. The sauce in this bowl requires just three simple steps: 1. open 2. dump 3. heat. You’ll simply add one can of pizza sauce and one can of diced tomatoes to a sauce pan and heat the mixture.
The Cheese | I like to save the best for last. I initially set out to create a cold, mozzarella-ish cheese but ran into a lucky streak in the kitchen last weekend and ended up creating a warm, gooey, stretchy vegan mozzarella cheese. Seriously, it stretches. Check it out…
To make the cheese, you’ll add cashews, water, white wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder, garlic, and sea salt to a blender. You’ll blend it on high until smooth, pour it into a pan, heat over medium, and whisk together for about five minutes until you have a thick, cheesy mixture. A dollop of this dreamy mozzarella along with a sprinkle of basil pulls the entire pizza bowl together like one big, happy, Italian family.
La vita è bella e la pizza è deliziosa.
La Vita è Bella Pizza Power Bowl
Creamy polenta, tangy marinara sauce, sautéed spinach and mushrooms, and gooey cashew mozzarella are nestled into the confines of one bowl in this deconstructed, plant-powered twist on classic deep dish pizza!
For the Polenta
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup polenta
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- Sea salt, to taste (I use 1/2 teaspoon)
For the Veggie Mixture
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 10 ounces baby bella (i.e., Cremini) mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into rings
- Sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Sauce
- 1 15- ounce can pizza sauce*
- 1 15- ounce can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning
For the Vegan Mozzarella
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Chili flakes, to taste
To Make the Polenta
- Add the water and sea salt to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Slowly add in the polenta, whisking continuously. Once the polenta is added, continue to whisk for 1-2 minutes to ensure that it is smooth and free from clumps. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until tender and creamy, whisking every few minutes to prevent clumping.
- Once the polenta is done cooking, stir in the garlic, olive oil, dried oregano, dried basil, and sea salt.
- Set aside until ready to assemble.
To Make the Veggie Mixture
- While the polenta is cooking, add 1 olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add in the spinach, mushrooms, and onion. Cook for 15-18 minutes or until the veggies are tender. Season with sea salt and black pepper, to taste.
To Make the Sauce
- Add the pizza sauce and diced tomatoes to a medium sauce pan and heat over low until hot.
To Make the Vegan Mozzarella
- Add the cashews, water, white wine vinegar, nutritional yeast, arrowroot powder, garlic, and sea salt to a high-powered blender** and blend on high for 2-3 minutes or until completely smooth.
- Pour the mixture into a small sauce pan. Heat over medium and whisk continuously until it becomes thick and stretchy (approximately 5 minutes).
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
To Assemble the Bowls
- Divide the polenta, veggies, and sauce between 4 bowls. Drop a dollop of vegan mozzarella in the center, and garnish with fresh basil and chili flakes.
- Refrigerate leftovers.
*Tip: check your pizza sauce label to make sure there isn't added and unnecessary sugar.
**If you don't have a high-powered blender, simply soak the cashews in warm water for an hour or two before blending.