Special Report

Foods You Couldn't Buy Frozen 35 Years Ago

Colman Andrews

Source: Courtesy of Sambazon

Açaí

Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin have been eating the pulp of this dark purple “superfood” berry for centuries, and in the latter 20th century, açaí bowls, combining the fruit with other fruits and grains, became a popular energy food for Brazilian surfers. Two American brothers, Ryan and Jeremy Black, discovered açaí­ in 1999, and by 2001 had figured out how to import the frozen pulp into the U.S. Today, freezer cases stock everything from sorbet to smoothie packs to ready-made bowls made with the trendy berry.

Source: Courtesy of B&G Foods, Inc.

Broccoli rice

Cauliflower was apparently first turned into “couscous” in 1998 by chef Benjamin Ford — Harrison’s son — at his now-defunct Chadwick’s restaurant in Beverly Hills. This was virtually identical to cauliflower “rice” — which may itself have been invented accidentally by an Italian supplier to Trader Joe’s. For a change of pace, though, cauliflower’s more colorful cousin, broccoli, gets a similar treatment. Green Giant sells both broccoli rice and a broccoli-rice-and-cauliflower-rice combination in frozen forms.

Source: Courtesy of Nestle

Bruschetta

The original bruschetta was just grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil, sometimes with chopped tomatoes spread over the top. It became popular as a more sophisticated form of garlic bread in the 1980s in America, and today there are recipes that call for garnishing the toast with everything from cheddar and bacon to bananas and Nutella to Philly cheesesteak — and brands like Tyson, Cedarlane, DiGiorno, and Trader Joe’s offer a variety of frozen versions.

Source: Courtesy of Tattooed Chef

Buddha bowls

The name was apparently first used in early 2005, but interest in the bowls remained modest until late 2016, when interest in them soared. They blew up on Pinterest and Instagram in 2017 and 2018 because they tend to be very photogenic. A Buddha bowl is an artfully arranged one-dish meal, usually consisting of one or more grains or starches (rice, quinoa, corn, barley, etc.), some vegetarian protein like tofu or beans, and almost any other combination of vegetables, cooked or raw, from avocado to watercress. Frozen Buddha bowls are now sold under labels such as PlantPure, Tattooed Chef, and Green Giant (and other companies market basically the same thing as Power Bowls or Nourish Bowls).

Source: Courtesy of Caulipower

Cauliflower pizza crust

Not only can cauliflower be turned into rice or couscous: it can also be served as “steak” and combined with masa to make tortillas. Why, then, shouldn’t it become the main ingredient in a grain-free (read paleo- and keto-friendly) pizza crust, too? The first recipes for cauliflower pizza crust appeared in the late 1980s, but it apparently wasn’t available in frozen form until around 2005. As versatile as it is, of course, cauliflower needs help to form a crust, and various brands combine it with flours made from rice, corn, almonds, and cassava, as well as other ingredients.