One thing I learned in restaurant school is the power of words: What you call a dish is half the sales appeal. And so when I decided to try to get away with a meatless, fishless dinner the other night, our entree could not be a casserole. It would be rice pizza. And it was actually pretty great.
Years ago I had come across a recipe for pizza using rice for the crust, and while the clipping is long lost, the idea lodged in my cranial sieve. In a hurry to get food on my family after squandering another day at the computer, I realized I had everything on hand to give it a try at last: I boiled half a cup of basmati rice and an ear of corn for extra protein, mixed the rice and the kernels with an egg and pressed it into an oiled gratin dish. Slices of my last tomato went over the top, then some chopped olives and fresh basil, and finally the fresh mozzarella left over from a tomato salad. As it baked, the rice got crusty, the topping melted together luxuriously. My consort ate it happily because it was so much more like a meal with a big salad than a real pizza ordered in would have been. And enough to serve at least four cost less than the vegetable focaccia and iced tea I had at the Chelsea Market the other day. I gotta start carrying a lunch when I go shopping...
Regina Schrambling is best known for her acerbic Web site, gastropoda.com, and blog, gastriques.blogspot.com, but proudest of being a two-time refugee from The New York Times. She left the national desk in 1983 to enroll in the New York Restaurant School and was lured back as deputy editor of the Dining section, from which she resigned in 2002 to become a contract writer for the Los Angeles Times food section. She writes for magazines including Metropolitan Home, New York, Real Food, and Edible Brooklyn, as well as Slate and Salon.
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