Burt’s BBQ Pizza

By Rip Esselstyn

Burt’s Barbecue was one of Austin’s best joints of its kind and was located just two buildings down from our fire station in Texas. At 2:00 a.m. one morning, the 911 fire dispatcher received a call from a passerby reporting a great deal of smoke coming from the place. The dispatcher told him the cooks were probably just smoking some meat. Thirty minutes later, another passerby called and reported some very serious smoke coming from Burt’s. Again, the dispatcher wasn’t too concerned until the caller said that he’d been barbecuing meat all his life and he had never seen anyone create this much smoke doing it.

So Engine 2 was dispatched to the fire–but it was too late. The building was destroyed. The next day, several local radio deejays–jokingly–accused us firefighting plant-eaters of letting Burt’s Barbecue burn. But it just so happens we were not on duty that shift–the meat-eating, barbecue-loving B-shifters were. So we were exonerated.

In a rather ironic twist, two weeks after Burt’s burned down, one of Austin’s best-known vegetarian restaurants, Mother’s, also caught on fire. Once again, the deejays were wondering why the plant-eating firefighters didn’t save the day. (And once again, everything that could be done was done. And anyway, it wasn’t our shift.)

Barbecue is our simple twist on the supreme pizza. After slicing up the toppings, we place them in individual bowls on the kitchen counter. One at a time, each of us tops the crust, choosing the assortment and layout of ingredients we think will yield the most delicious and best-looking pizza. Presentation is always important!

Serves 2 to 3

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.


 2 Kabuli crusts or another whole grain crust
 4 ounces tomato paste
 1 cup BBQ sauce
 2 teaspoons dried oregano 
 1 small red onion, sliced
 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
 2 handfuls fresh spinach
 1 jar pineapple chunks, drained
 ½ cup finely ground cashews


1. Mix tomato paste, barbecue sauce, and oregano together in a bowl.
2. Generously spread sauce on the crusts, and layer with vegetables and pineapple.
3. Top with cashews.
4. Cook on sprayed cooking sheet or pizza stone for 15 minutes.


Rip Esselstyn is a mission-driven man. As a swimmer at the University of Texas at Austin, he was a three time All-American. As a professional athlete, he was one of the premier triathletes in the world for more than a decade. As a firefighter for the Austin (TX) Fire Department, he helped people and saved lives. As a friend to other firefighters, he transformed the way Austin’s Engine 2 ate to save firefighters’ health. Now, as the author of The Engine 2 Diet, he is teaching people the irrefutable connection between what they put in their mouths and their ability to reach their ideal weight and their ideal health. Recently, he has teamed up with Whole Foods Market as a Healthy Eating Partner to raise awareness for Whole Foods Market team members, customers, and all of America about the benefits of eating a PlantStrongÔ diet composed of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Rip comes from a family steeped in medicine. His great-grandfather, George Crile, co-founded the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic, where his father, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., was chief of the breast cancer task force and completed one of the most extensive studies ever conducted on the relationship between the heart and diet–proving that a plant-based diet can stop, prevent, and even reverse heart disease.  

Rip serves on the Board of Directors for The Wellness Foundation, EarthSave’s Meals For Health Program, and the AllergyKids Foundation.

No posts to display