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Week 42: Spinach, Mushroom Heaven

All I can say is the bubbling pizza tasted as spectacular as it looked, and I didn’t even fool with fixin’ a salad to go with it.

James Villas, Hungry for Happiness

We loved the spinach artichoke dip inspired pizza we made for week 40 so much that we wanted to so something similar this week. Both my partner and I found the vegan spinach dip far tastier than it’s dairy counterpart. I wanted to recreate that “mouth feel” this week, but sneak in more greens and veggies.

Until a few years ago I actively disliked mushrooms and avoided them on anything except the occasional pizza. In recent years I have read about the numerous health benefits of mushrooms and have come to appreciate their deep, earthy, umami flavor.

Along with broccoli and pineapple, mushrooms are one of my favorite pizza toppings. They take on the flavor of the oils and spices they are cooked with and taste delicious on top of melted cheese. This pizza looks and tastes decadent, but there’s only 4 oz. of vegan cream cheese (made of nuts, so added protein) and a small handful of vegan mozzarella. I added toasted pine nuts for added crunch and protein.

Thank you Bianca for the inspiration.

Ingredients

  • your choice of pizza dough
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2/3 cup vegan mozzarella, shredded (Violife is my fav.)
Spinach, Kale Cheese Mixture
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach leaves, washed
  • few stalks of dino kale, washed, stems removed, and loosely chopped
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4-6 oz. vegan cream cheese (I use Violife or Kite Hill.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons white miso paste (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable broth (optional)
Pan Fried Mushrooms
  • large handful of mushrooms (you can use any you like, I used simple white, button mushrooms), clean with a wet paper towel (do not run mushrooms under water or they get mushy), sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Roll out your dough to desired size and thickness, bearing in mind this pizza will have a lot of heavy toppings, so it should not be a thin crust pizza.
  3. To make the spinach/kale cheese mix, you can go the quick, easy route or add one or both of these steps. First, dip your spinach and kale in hot, salty water for 1 minute to wilt the greens, the remove with a slotted spoon and squeeze out the excess water. This is not absolutely necessary, but I have made this mix many times and this extra step adds a brightness and flavor to the greens. Second, if you have a food processor, combine all of the spinach/kale cheese mix ingredients in your food processor. Mix on low for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides. Add additional vegetable broth if you need, to thin the mix. It should be fairly thick and creamy, not liquidy. If you don’t have a food processor or don’t want to clean it (trust me, I understand!), you can mix all the ingredients in a bowl. If you use the miso (and I highly recommend you do, the flavor is amazing), dissolve it in vegetable broth or water first before adding to the mix. Miso is a paste and needs liquid to dissolve.
  4. Spread the spinach/kale cheese mix on your pizza and bake for 11-14 minutes, depending on your oven temperature and the size and thickness of your pizza.
  5. While your pizza is in the oven, heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and toast your pine nuts for a few minutes without any oil. They will become golden and look toasted. Don’t abandon them! Stir regularly to avoid burning. When done, place on a plate.
  6. Using the same frying pan over medium-high heat, add a glug of olive or avocado oil. Fry your mushrooms for 6-8 minutes until they are browned. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you prefer not to use oil, you can use vegetable broth to fry your mushrooms instead.
  7. When your pizza comes out of the oven, slide it onto a bakers cooling rack, if you have one. Immediately top with the mushroom mix. Allow to cool a few minutes. Top with the pine nuts, slice, serve, and enjoy!

We both loved this pizza. As the chef, I appreciate the simplicity of making the spinach cheese mix, putting it in the oven, and then making the mushroom and pine nut toppings while it’s baking. If you are short on time, you could make the spinach cheese mix a day ahead and store it in the fridge. Also, no one will tell if you don’t toast the pine nuts!

If you make this or any other vegan pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas. Enjoy!

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Week 41: Banh Mi

The Banh Mi sandwich is really the only good argument for colonialism.

Calvin Trillin

As a vegan it’s hard to find sandwiches in shops. Take away the meat, cheese, dairy and egg, and there’s little leftover to create a filling sandwich. My partner introduced me to one of his favorite sandwiches–the Banh Mi. We couldn’t find a shop that had a veggie version, so I decided to make my own.

There’s no definitive way to make a Bahn Mi. They typically include these three elements–pickled vegetables (carrots and radish or daikon), “filling” (AKA meat, or for vegans, cauliflower, tofu or tempeh), and a generous amount of aioli (mayo, hot sauce, and sweetener). It’s typically served on a baguette, which was introduced to the Vietnamese culture by their French colonizers.

We tried this recipe from Minimalist Baker which uses cauliflower as the “meat” with pickled carrots and radishes and a super tasty vegan version of the traditional mayo sauce. I’ve made it several times with toasted French baguettes and also my homemade no knead bread. Both versions are delicious.

Another version comes from My Darling Vegan, which uses tofu along with the traditional pickled veggies and mayo sauce. We decided to combine the best of both recipes to create this week’s pizza.

Ingredients

  • pizza dough of choice (I used a basic pizza dough made with bread flour. This would be interesting on a socca base, which I am planning to make next week.)

Pickled Veggies

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, leave skin on and cut into a similar size
  • 8 jalapeño slices
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used brown coconut sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Marinated Tofu

  • 4 oz. firm or extra firm tofu (this is 1/2 a block)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (Braggs, tamari, or soy sauce also works)
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil (avocado oil works too)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (optional)

Spicy Vegan Aioli

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha

Instructions for making the three toppings

The dough and pickled veggies can both be made the day before and stored in the fridge. Take your dough out and let it come to room temperature about 2 hours before you plan to use it. The pickled veggies can rest in the fridge until you need them. The aioli can also be made the day before and stored in the fridge in a sealed container. I love this aioli recipe. It’s the real reason I love Banh Mi. Warm pizza crust melts the aioli around the tofu and veggies and it’s a mess to eat, but oh so delicious.

A note about pressing tofu: when using firm or extra firm tofu, as you will want to do for this recipe, it’s a good practice to press your tofu for 30-60 minutes before slicing and using it. Since this recipe calls for just half the package, I cut it in half, wrap the half I want to use loosely in about 3 layers of paper towels and place it between two small plates. The idea is to press the excess liquid out, so place a can of something like beans on top of the plate and lightly press. Over the course of time, 30-60 minutes, the water will come out and your paper towels will become soaked. I typically rewrap my tofu and press it twice. If you are short on time you can skip this step, but patience will be rewarded with better tasting tofu.

Pickled Veggies

  1. Add vinegar, half the hot water, salt, and sugar to a glass Ball jar and shake it to combine. Add the carrot, cucumbers, and jalapeño slices. Pour the rest of the hot water over the mixture so that the liquid submerges the vegetables. Cover with a lid. Either let sit on countertop for an hour to cool then place in the fridge for a few hours to overnight or if you are making this mix as you cook, place it in the fridge immediately.

Tip: If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can use the liquid that comes with your jarred jalapeño slices.

Tofu Marinade

  1. In a wide bottomed bowl, add the coconut aminos, chili garlic sauce, oil, maple syrup, garlic and ginger. Whisk to combine.
  2. Place the tofu slices in the bowl and flip them so that they are coated on both sides. Set aside for 30 minutes so the tofu soaks up the marinade.

Aioli

  • Add vegan mayo, maple syrup, and sriracha to a small bowl. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust the flavor to your preference of sweet or heat. Sriracha isn’t spicy, but it can be hot, which is something I love about the recipe. If you don’t just add a little at a time.

Instructions

As a test, I divided my dough in half and made the pizza base two ways. I heated half on my pizza stone in the oven at 425° for 11 minutes. We found that dough to be too crispy. It’s hard to bake pizza naked, without any toppings, and have it come out right. With the other dough ball, I fried it in a non-stick pan, 4 minutes on the first side, 3 minutes on the second side, then added the toppings. It was a bit more like a flat pita bread sandwich, but it was good. I’d recommend crisping your dough on the stovetop rather than baking it for this particular pizza. The bonus there is you don’t have to wait 45 minutes to heat your oven.

  1. Heat your frying pan with a little oil to coat the bottom. Place the tofu strips in the pan and heat for 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on how thick your slices are. They will get crispy and brown when they are ready. It’s fine to flip them to check.
  2. If you are like me and have only one frying pan, when the tofu strips are done, place them on a paper towel on a baking rack to keep them crisp. Rinse out your frying pan, heat it over medium-high heat and use it to fry your pizza dough.
  3. Let dough cool 2-3 minutes while you drain your pickled veggies.
  4. Slather crust with a generous amount of aioli.
  5. Layer with tofu strips and pickled veggies.

After thinking of myself as “not a sandwich person” for decades of my life, it was refreshing to find the Banh Mi. I love the flavor combination of this dish. The trio of toppings works well on a variety of breads and can be made gluten-free by using gf flour, soy-free by using cauliflower instead of tofu or tempeh. This is a versatile recipe, so play around with it and enjoy.

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Week 40: Spinach Artichoke Yumminess

Popeye was right about spinach: dark green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest food on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie.

Michael Greger

The last time I had spinach artichoke dip, was about a dozen years ago. I made it to take to a friend’s holiday party. I wanted it to be really special. I researched recipes and bought the ingredients, excited to share this dish with friend. It was the hit of the party. People gathered around with blue corn chips and slices of toasted French bread, ready to dip in.

I’ve seen recipes for vegan spinach artichoke dip and pizzas and thought a marriage of the two would be a yummy dish. Wow. This is heaven on a plate. Rich, creamy, flavorful, and also healthy, with fresh and frozen spinach, artichokes, garlic and onions, and spices. I thought of making it a deep dish pizza, but reconsidered and made it a flat crust.

For the dough, I used this recipe for cornmeal olive oil dough. I made it two days in advance and let the dough rest in the fridge. It’s a wet dough, perfect for deep dish decadence. With a little flour to coat it, it worked well for this pizza. The dough is pillowy and flavorful, a bit like focaccia.

This is a very adaptable recipe. You can use fresh or frozen spinach. I had some frozen spinach in the fridge, so I thawed it in a bowl of warm water, picked out the stems, and squeezed the life out of it! You want your spinach to be dry. Wet spinach, especially frozen and thawed, is slimy. No one likes slimy spinach, especially Popeye!

I used 1/3 frozen spinach and 2/3 fresh. I like fresh better so I doubt I will buy frozen again, as it’s failed in every recipe so far. I used both fresh garlic and garlic powder. I sprinkled in some nutritional yeast and also used miso. Both noosh and miso add umami flavor, which gives food an earthy taste. If you have either or both of these ingredients, use them. If you don’t you can use other spices to pepper your dip (pun intended!).

Final dishes are a reflection of the ingredients you use. Find a vegan cream cheese, mayo, and cheese that you like and use those. I love Violife and Kite Hill cream cheeses, Follow Your Heart Vegenaise, and Violife or Miyoko’s vegan cheeses, especially the hard Violife parmesan, which I used in this recipe. It’s a matter of personal taste, so find what works for your palate and budget. If you are up for it, you can make your own.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 4 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • vegan parmesan (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Add miso paste and garlic powder to the vegan mayo. Set aside.
  3. Heat a glug of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add artichoke hearts and spinach. Stir to combine.
  5. Add salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
  6. Scoop vegan mayo mix into the pan. Stir to combine.
  7. Add vegan cream cheese. I tore off bits and placed them in the pan, as you can see in the photo.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Roll out your dough. Bake dough for 3 minutes. Open and close oven door quickly so you don’t lose more heat than you need to.
  10. After a 3 minute “blind bake,” remove crust from oven and spread mixture over the top, leaving a 1 inch rim all around the pizza.
  11. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crust and your oven. When you smell it, it’s done.
  12. If you are using a brick of hard vegan parmesan, slice about 15 small strips off the block and place them on top of the pizza immediately after it comes out of the oven. It will melt right in!
  13. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
  14. Enjoy! This is a filling pizza. It would be great with beer!
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Week 39: Oh Sweetie

Those pizzas I ate were for medicinal purposes.

Amy Neftzger
Gluten-free sweet potato crust pizzaWe

On vacation in Mexico two years ago, which seems like ages ago now! I had a sweet potato crust pizza at Mi Vegano Favorito in San Jose del Cabo. It was everything you want a pizza to be. Tasty crust that’s just the right thickness to hold all the veggie and melted vegan cheese goodness. It was so good that I’m still talking about it and trying to recreate it, two years later.

Back in week 3 when we were just starting out our pizza journey, I tried two different sweet potato crusts. Neither worked well enough to present to you on the blog. I wanted to try one more time before this yearlong pizza journey is through to see if I could find a recipe that works.

I found this recipe on From My Bowl and for the first time my sweet potato crust came out pretty good. I’m grateful it worked because sweet potatoes are a lot healthier than flour, so it’s nice to have the option of a non-flour, gluten-free crust. I didn’t have tapioca flour so used cornstarch instead. I added oregano to the dry mix and otherwise followed the recipe faithfully. I even used my kitchen scale.

I love sweet potatoes. They are high in vitamins A, C, B6, potassium and manganese. They have 4 grams of protein a serving and are almost fat free. Plus, they are very filling. My favorite are the hannah white variety, which is what I used above. Purple sweet potatoes are also fun to use and jazz up the look of your dishes.

As always, you can use any veggies you like. Because this was a dish I first tried in Mexico, I tried to recreate the flavors of that dish by using similar veggies. Here’s the original for some inspiration. I love that this pizza has a rustic crust with a hint of red sauce, light melted cheese, and a mound of healthy veggies. If you visit San Jose del Cabo, you have to try it (and bring me back a slice!).

Ingredients

  • Sweet potato crust (see recipe link above)
  • handful vegan mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 broccoli stem, florets cut into bite size pieces, use the stem if you like, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed in hot water for 10 minutes
  • 5 slices of zucchini or cucumber, diced
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and sprinkled with salt
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • guacamole or avocado to serve

Per instructions on the sweet potato crust recipe, I baked the crust for 10 minutes in a hot oven before putting on any sauce or toppings. It dried it out quite a lot, as you can see from the photo on the far left. Next time I will bake it with a scant amount of sauce or brush it with olive oil first before baking to keep it moist.

As you can see, I use only a small amount of sauce. I used a jarred marinara. Sadly, I threw the rest away. I sometime buy the type of tomato paste that looks like tomato toothpaste just so I don’t end up discarding an almost whole jar of marinara. But, the spices and flavors of marinara are really good, so it’s up to you.

See above that I have put the veggies on before the cheese? That’s because I was waffling on whether or not to use cheese at all. I knew I wanted to serve this with guacamole so thought I might go cheeseless. In the end, I put about 1/2 cup of mozzarella on top and it didn’t quite melt correctly. If you are using cheese, put it on over your sauce and under the veggies.

Instructions

  1. Bake your sweet potato crust for 8-10 minutes in a 425° oven. I recommend you bake it with either a brush of olive oil or 1/2 cup marinara to keep it from drying out.
  2. Remove from oven. Top with cheese first if using, then your veggies. You can pan fry your veggies first. I often do this so that I can toss them with olive or avocado oil and spices. Also, if you are using any hearty veggies like the stalk part of broccoli, they need more time to cook, so then pan frying before baking is the way to go.
  3. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. This makes approximately 20 minutes total.
  4. Slice, serve with guacamole (and maybe some margaritas!). Enjoy!
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Week 38: Pizza de los Muertos

The dead cannot cry out for pizza. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.

Lois McMaster Bujold (quote loosely translated)

We’re looking forward to celebrating Dia de los Muertos this weekend. Tomorrow is Halloween and a full moon. It’s also the second full moon in the month, so it’s a blue moon too. Normally we would be out celebrating, but with Covid, we are snuggling up at home and cooking, baking, and decorating.

We wanted to bring some of the Day of the Dead festiveness to our pizza blog in preparation for this weekend’s feast. Mexican inspired food is always so good. To make the dough, I used 1/3 “masa harina” and 2/3 bread flour. I would have preferred to use all-purpose flour, but alas, our local stores have again sold out. Next time I will try this recipe that uses whole wheat pastry flour with masa harina.

If you are wondering what masa harina is, it’s dried corn dough used as flour. You add water and salt to it, and sometimes oil, to create tortillas. “Masa harina” translates to masa (dough) harina (flour). I’ve used it with water and salt to make thin tortillas I fry in a pan. I’ve also mixed it with all purpose and whole wheat flours to make more of a doughy consistency, perfect for pizza.

Masa harina is gluten free, so if you are avoiding gluten, this could be a great addition to your pantry.

Ingredients

  • dough of choice, I recommend using part masa harina, but it’s up to you
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • about 10 jalapeño slices
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (I use frozen, placed in hot water to thaw)
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 organic red pepper, diced
  • few broccoli florets
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • handful vegan cheese shredded (I used jack cheese from Violife)
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce of choice or tomato paste thinned with water, add salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • spices of choice- I used cumin powder and chili powder
  • squeeze of quality sriracha

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Roll out your dough to desired size. I place a ball of dough between two sheets of parchment paper and use a rolling pin. This method works for me.
  3. NOTE: You do not have to heat your veggies in advance, but I typically do so that I can heat them, coat them with a bit of oil, and season veggies in the pan.
  4. Heat a glug of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. I used avocado oil.
  5. Add onions and stir for 2 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and stir, 30 seconds.
  6. Add peppers, broccoli, corn, and tomatoes. Season with chosen spices and sriracha. Stir and heat for 2 minutes. Take pan off the heat.

Assembly

  1. I roll out my dough and keep it on one piece of parchment paper. This makes it easier to get into and out of a hot oven.
  2. Spoon a thin amount of marinara sauce over your dough.
  3. Sprinkle with vegan cheese.
  4. Top with veggies.
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes in a hot oven.
  6. Slice, top with avocado or guacamole, and enjoy!
Yum! Pizza to share with you living friends or those you love who have passed over.

We hope you enjoy this pizza. We are looking forward to honoring our loved ones who have passed over this weekend. Dia de los Muertos is a lovely way to celebrate the life of those you love. And if your loved ones loved pizza, why not make some to share?

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Week 37: Aloha Spirit

I burned my Hawaiian pizza today. Should’ve cooked it on aloha temperature.

Unknown

I love pineapple on pizza. It adds a tart sweetness that complements melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and jalapeños. To make a vegan pizza true to the ‘Hawaiian’ pizza name, I needed to find something to replace the traditional ham flavor. I found a recipe for bacon flavored coconut flakes and decided to adapt it to flaked almonds to add some protein to this meal.

Over the course of this year, my partner and I have tried at least fifty different pizza variations. Hawaiian is one of my favorites (and not just because I miss living on Maui. There is no actual connection to the islands. Hawaiian pizza was invented by a Greek immigrant to Ontario, Canada. You can read more about the story here.)

To make this pizza unique, I tried a new dough recipe from the book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by this book at first. The authors are highly accomplished bakers. I bought a $10 digital kitchen scale to ensure that my measurements are accurate and decided to give one of their recipes a try.

I made the Cornmeal and Olive Oil Dough that the authors initially created for deep-dish pizza. The authors generously share their recipe here. The deep-dish style looks yummy and we plan to try it soon. To use this dough as a regular, flat pizza dough, I needed to add a 1/2 cup of flour and knead it slightly.

Above you can see my preferred method of flattening the pizza disk. I put a ball between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out with a wooden rolling pin. I’ve worked on my technique so that I can get the pizza very thin. For this pizza, I would recommend a thicker dough. So either don’t roll it out as thin or try the deep-dish style in the link above.

This week’s quote is appropriate because I ‘blind baked’ the pizza, meaning I baked it naked, with no toppings, for 3 minutes before pulling it back out of the oven to top it. For some pizzas, that is the way to go. This week, it wasn’t! Lesson learned. I rolled the crust too thin to blind bake it and the final result was burnt.

For this week’s pizza, I recommend a medium or thicker crust to hold all of the yummy toppings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • handful cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly salted
  • handful jalapeño slices, patted dry
  • handful shredded vegan mozzarella
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • dough of choice
  • sauce of choice- red sauce, light BBQ sauce, and tomato paste thinned with water and sprinkled with herbs all work well as a base sauce, so adjust to your taste

Optional-Guacamole

  • avocado (optional, if I can add a perfectly ripe avocado, I always do!)
  • splash lime juice and dash salt (optional for avocado/homemade guacamole)

Optional- smoky, bacon flavored almond flakes

  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (this is what gives it a smokey, bacony flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch black pepper

Instructions for almond flakes

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix all the liquids and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the almond flakes and toss to coat.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to place flakes on a piece of parchment paper in a single layer.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes so they don’t burn.

Note: Do this at least 30 min before you want to bake your pizza so that your oven can get up to 450° to properly crisp your pizza crust. You can make the almonds a few days in advance and store them in the fridge or freezer.

Instructions

  1. Crank your oven up to 450°.
  2. Drain your pineapple slices, if using from a can. The juice is great in smoothies or can be frozen and used later. Place them on a paper towel to dry them out a bit.
  3. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on your pineapple. This is an optional step, but I have found it’s a nice flavor enhancer for the pineapple.
  4. Roll out your dough. Slather on some sauce. I used a mix of tomato paste and a vegan BBQ sauce that does not have a strong flavor. You can also use straight tomato paste thinned and add some spices, like oregano or dried basil. This pizza is best with a tomato enhanced base flavor.
  5. To give my pizza a boost, I tossed the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and pan fried them for five minutes before layering them on top of the sauce. This is optional, but it does add a nice flavor boost.
  6. Place the pineapple, diced green pepper, and jalapeños around your pizza evenly.
  7. Top with cheese. Feel free to be generous here. Cheese is yummy!
  8. Bake for 11-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your crust.
  9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then top with the flaked almonds and guacamole.
  10. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
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Week 36: Pizza My Love

I think of dieting, then I eat pizza.

Lara Stone

This week my partner and I made the pizza together, starting with the dough. Pizza making is a fun date night activity (so is vegan sushi rolling!), so if you are looking for something fun to do with your honey this weekend… you just might end up with a heart shaped pizza.

Right now fresh basil is still available in our local grocery store, but that will be changing soon. While we can still get it, we wanted to make one more basil pesto pizza. This time we added 2 parts basil to one part arugula to create the pesto. We added a few slices of vegan parmesan and our favorite veggies to create a filling meal.

To start, make the pesto. You can make it a day ahead and store it covered in the fridge. I prefer to make it fresh and use any leftovers the next day.

For the leaf mix, you can use all basil or a mix of basil and other leaves. Basil is more expensive than other leaves and using a 2:1 mix of basil to other leaves or even 1:1 works well without diminishing the flavor. Today I used 2 parts basil to one part arugula. I’ve used spinach and dino kale in the past. Both worked well. I probably like kale the best, followed by spinach, then arugula. But, it’s nice to mix it up and use what you have on hand.

For the nuts, you can use cashews, walnuts, or pine nuts. I haven’t tried it with almonds or pecans, but have seen recipes that use these instead. Pine nuts are a classic pesto taste, but have more calories than other nuts.

If you have a ripe avocado, you can add half of it or the whole thing. It adds an extra layer of creaminess and is delicious, as are all things made with avocado. If you do use an avocado and you have avocado oil, you can use that in place of the olive oil, if you prefer.

Pesto Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil, washed and dried
  • 1 cup arugula leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Make sure your leaves are thoroughly washed and dried. I use a salad spinner and then dry them on a paper towel. This takes just one extra minute but creates a better pesto texture.
  2. Place leaves in your food processor and pulse a few times.
  3. Add the other ingredients, except the olive oil.
  4. Whizz on low speed to combine. With the machine running on low, drizzle in the olive oil.
  5. Taste the pesto and adjust the flavor to match your preferences. Sometimes I add more nut yeast, sometimes extra garlic, salt, or lemon juice.

Pizza Ingredients

  • Dough of choice~We used 00 flour and made our own. Most store brands are perfectly good if you prefer not to make it. A simple dough takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and is a bit cheaper to make yourself. I hear Trader Joe’s has a good dough if you don’t feel like making it.
  • Pesto~ If using the recipe above, we used 2/3 of it for this pizza and used 1/3 to make a mini pizza the next day.
  • Dozen cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • few slices of vegan cheese or small handful shredded cheese~ We used Violife parmesan and I sliced about 5 slices with a vegetable peeler.
  • Handful arugula, washed and dried.

Assembly

  1. Heat your oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Let dough come to room temperature for 2 hours before baking.
  3. Prepare your veggies.
  4. Roll out the dough. You just might get an unexpected heart.
  5. Spread pesto over your dough, leaving a 1 inch crust.
  6. Add slices of cheese.
  7. Top with tomatoes and green peppers or whatever veggies you prefer to use.
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes until you smell that it’s done.
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice. Top with arugula. Serve, and enjoy!
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Week 35: Cheese Please

That was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten in my life. The cheese was so good it made me faint.

Elvis Aaron Presley
Vegan Double Cheese Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, and Cucumber

Some of the best pizzas in life start out as something else. This week I had in mind to make a light summer pizza with vegan cream cheese, ripe cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. I did use those ingredients, but made a last minute decision to toss a handful of vegan cheese on the pizza, and wow! The cheese took it to the next level of yumminess.

The pizza above looks decadent, but it actually has only a handful of Violife vegan colby jack cheese. I used about half a cup, which is 150 calories. Split between two people, that’s not a lot of extra calories, but it did make the pizza taste a lot richer. This is one of our favorite pizzas so far this year.

This week I used bread flour to make the dough. I forgot to add olive oil to the mix and it still came out well and was easy to shape. I made a dough with “00” flour earlier in the week and my partner and I both liked the bread flour version better. That could be any number of factors, but since bread flour has more protein than 00 flour, I’d rather use it.

I added a teaspoon of dried oregano to the dough when mixing. I also added a generous teaspoon of garlic honey, which is honey that had garlic sitting in it for a month. Here’s a post with more detailed info if you want to make it. The garlic turns to candy, with no garlicky taste. You can eat the garlic, one a day, and it helps ward off colds.

This week’s pizza has two layers of cheese. There’s a cream cheese layer that gets a flavor boost from a bit of miso paste, and the layer of shredded cheese. The flavors of this pizza combo taste great together, but if you are missing one or two of the ingredients, you can substitute something else.

As always, feel free to use any veggies you have on hand. Next time I make this pizza (and there will definitely be a next time, this one was super good) I would add a few jalapeño slices.

Ingredients

  • pizza dough
  • handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 medium size white onion, diced
  • 4 oz. vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • few slices of cucumber, diced

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450° for 45 minutes before you plan to bake your pizza.
  2. If you have one, put your pizza stone in the oven to heat up.
  3. Let dough come to room temperature (if refrigerated) for 2 hours prior to baking.
  4. Slice cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. If using frozen corn, run hot water over it to bring to room temperature. Set aside.
  6. Add miso paste to cream cheese. Taste and see how much miso tastes good to you.
  7. Heat a frying pan. Over medium-high heat, add a glug of olive or avocado oil.
  8. Add the onions. Stir for 2 minutes.
  9. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  10. Add cucumber slices.
  11. Add corn.
  12. Add tomatoes and stir for 2 minutes.
  13. Take off the heat. Roll out your pizza dough.
  14. Spread cream cheese and miso mixture over your pizza.
  15. Layer with veggies from the pan.
  16. Top with 1/2 cup of vegan shredded cheese.
  17. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crust is golden and you can smell that it’s done.
  18. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Super yummy, vegan double cheese, tomato, cucumber, corn pizza- Share it with someone you love!
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Week 34: Mangia italiano

You try to come up with new ideas, but in the end, people just want to eat Italian food.

Stephen Starr
Vegan Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Broccoli, Zucchini, Garlic, Onions, and Vegan Parmesan

I was craving a veggie pizza and wanted to try a crust using Caputo “00” flour. That is the brand and type of flour often recommended in traditional Neapolitan recipes. I also recently got a pizza stone and wanted to see if it would really crisp up the better than my old pan. Yes and yes.

The Caputo flour produces a crust that is reminiscent of the delicious and light pizza we ate in Naples. Our Emile Henry pizza stone does a good job crisping up the bottom of the pizza and cooking it evenly. We considered getting a pizza steel, but they weigh 16 pounds and I don’t have a good place to store it, so we went with the stone. I used it to bake croissants and they burned, so it’s not a good option for all baked goods, but did work well for pizza.

I wanted this to be a light, crispy pizza that highlights the flavor of late summer veggies. Instead of a base sauce, I cut a large handful of cherry tomatoes in half, lightly salted them, and sprayed them with a light coating of olive oil. After a few minutes of frying them in a pan, they soften up and make a nice base layer.

You can use any veggies you have on hand. Broccoli and zucchini are our favorites. I usually use the broccoli stalk, cutting it up into slices and then quartering the slices so they cook through. For the zucchini, I use a vegetable peeler and peel it around the entire vegetable until I reach the seeds. I slice the inner seeded part into rounds and use this part too. The soft inner part will take on the flavors of whatever oils and spices you use but has less flavor on its own.

Ingridents

  • handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half, lightly salted, lightly sprayed with olive oil, pepper to taste
  • broccoli stalk, florets cut small, stalk diced
  • 1/4 sweet white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • zucchini, sliced or peeled
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Vegan parmesan (optional)
  • pizza dough of choice

I have really come to appreciate the Violife line of vegan cheeses. Growing up veggie, there were so few vegan products on the market and cheese was the worst. It was always grainy with weird texture that didn’t melt like real cheese. Now times have changed and vegan cheese has the texture, taste, and meltability of “real” cheese. To me, Violife and Miyoko’s are the best brands.

Instructions

  1. Dough should be at room temperature for 2 hours before handling.
  2. Crank your oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  3. Prepare all your veggies so that when you start to cook, everything you need is ready for you.
  4. Heat a pan on medium-high heat. Add a glug of oil.
  5. Fry to onions for 2 minutes, until translucent.
  6. Add the garlic and stir.
  7. Add the diced broccoli stalks. These will take the longest to cook. Stir frequently for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the broccoli. Give it 2 minutes.
  9. Add the zucchini. Give it one minute.
  10. Turn off the heat and let veggies sit in the pan, off the heat, for a minute while you prepare your dough.
  11. Roll out your dough (or toss it if you’re fancy like that!)
  12. Brush dough with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  13. Add slices of parmesan.
  14. Top with veggie mix.
  15. Bake 13-15 minutes, depending on size of pizza and the true temperature of your oven.
  16. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Featured

Week 33: Comfort Food

Sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way.

Benjamin Bratt
Tempeh and Vegetable Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

Let’s be real. This has been a tough year and sometimes you just need to make some comfort food. As a vegan who eats a primarily pretty healthy diet, you might think I don’t have as many food indulgences, but oh contraire, I have many! For me, switching to a vegan diet opened up a world of tasty food that I’d never experienced before.

Here in California, we had almost 5 weeks of thick blankets of smoke covering almost the entire state. During that time I only went outside once to take out the garbage. We were blessed with 13 days of clear air, then new fires ignited. Once again, we are on day 3 of yellowish haze blanketing our skies.

Unfortunately during the smoke spells, we can’t use our oven (or our window box AC!). But, during the last clear day, I was able to make a quick pizza. I chose one of my favorites, which has become a new comfort food for me–veggie pizza with mozzarella and marinated tempeh. It may sound healthy (and it is) but it’s also gooey, rich, and indulgent too.

A good pizza starts with the crust. For most of this year I have used the same recipe and tried different flour ratios (all-purpose, bread, pizza, 00, spelt, gluten-free, oat, buckwheat, and whole wheat flours), types of oil (olive, avocado, sunflower), sugar (coconut, honey), and salt (Himalayan fine and course, fine and coarse sea salt, and smoked sea salt flakes).

For this week’s dough, I used equal parts all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Next time I would use 2/3 all-purpose and 1/3 whole wheat or spelt flour. The recipe is on the card above or here.

You can use any veggies you like. My “go to” pizza ingredients are garlic, onions, and tomatoes. I think my Italian friends would approve. I love broccoli on pizza, as well as jarred jalapeño slices, kale (yes, kale!), and avocado, which goes on after the pizza is cooked. This week I had some celery left over from making soup stock, so I decided to include it. It adds a nice crunch and texture to the meal.

Recently I’ve found that I love the combination of marinated tempeh and melted mozzarella. There’s just something about the flavor and texture combo that works really well on pizza. Tempeh also adds protein, which is not always easy to do on a vegan pizza.

Ingredients–tempeh marinade

  • tempeh
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut or soy aminos (like Braggs)
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste (I prefer the flavor of white miso paste)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Instructions–tempeh marinade

  1. Slice the tempeh into bite sized pieces. I slice about 1/2 inch thick then cut the strips into halves or thirds. The photo above shows the actual amount I used, which is a little less than 1/2 of a block of store bought tempeh.
  2. Make the marinade. Adjust the amount of aminos, miso paste, and maple syrup to your liking. When I am cooking, the above are a guideline and then I adjust based on flavor and thickness of the marinade.
  3. Place tempeh into the marinade and coat all sides. Let sit for 10 minutes (or longer) while you prepare the vegetables.
  4. When it’s time to cook the tempeh, heat your pan well. I have an eco-friendly pan that has a nontoxic nonstick coating, so I don’t need to use oil to coat the pan. If your pan isn’t nonstick, use a spray of oil.
  5. Place tempeh pieces on the pan in a single layer. Cook 2 minutes on each side. Once done, remove from pan and place on a paper towel on top of a baker’s cooling rack, if you have one. This will keep them from getting soggy.

Topping Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • about 8 jalapeño slices, drained, squeezed of liquid
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and lightly salted
  • small handful vegan mozzarella
  • 3 stalks kale, derimmed (stalk removed), washed, lightly massaged, then torn or cut into pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • handful broccoli florets, cut small
  • olive or avocado oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Topping Instructions

  1. Using the same pan you used to pan fry the tempeh, heat a glug of olive or avocado oil.
  2. Add onion, stir and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and stir.
  3. Add a dash of sea salt, stir.
  4. Add the broccoli florets and kale, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes. Let mix cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Vegan mozzarella, marinated tempeh, and vegetable pizza

Assembly

  1. Roll out your dough. Dough should be room temperature for at least two hours before trying to roll it out.
  2. Sprinkle crust with mozzarella.
  3. Add veggie mix directly from the pan, spreading evenly across the pizza, leaving a 1 inch rim around the crust.
  4. Place tempeh pieces evenly around the crust.
  5. Bake in a 450° oven for 14 minutes. (Open time and temperature will depend on your oven’s true temperature, the thickness of the crust, and what you are baking it on.)
  6. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing. Optionally top with ripe avocado. (Everything’s better with ripe avocado!). Enjoy!
Yum!
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Week 32: Appreciation

Trade your expectation for appreciation and your world changes instantly.

Tony Robbins
Vegan Veggie and Cheese on Spelt Crust

Here in Northern California, we just went through a month of being inside everyday due to heavy smoke from nearby fires. An entire month of being inside every single day, with no air-conditioning and a summer heatwave. We only went outside once to take out the garbage and quickly grab our mail. It’s been intense.

Three days ago, the winds changed and started to blow the smoke away. Blue skies and birds came back. It’s amazing now to be able to open our windows and to go outside and breathe. Yesterday I went to my favorite hiking spot. I missed it during the past month of extreme indoorness.

Being sealed inside our apartment, we were not able to use our oven. It was also hella hot. Today when I flung open the windows and cranked up the oven, I felt utter appreciation to be able to do so. Cooking is an act of love. This recipe is our gift.

I read recently that to get the maximum health benefits from garlic, you should crush or mince it 15 minutes before you cook it. Reading this has changed the order of my cooking routine. Now I peel and crush the garlic first. Second, I slice the tomatoes and sprinkle them with a little sea salt. Salt helps release more flavor.

Throughout this year, I have been experimenting with different crusts. All-purpose, bread flour, pizza flour, and “00” flour, which is the only flour that can be used in traditional Neapolitan pizzerias, are so far my favorites. These white flours are reliable, easy to use, and absorb water well. I’ve struggled with finding a good gluten-free alternative.

Today I almost made a gluten-free boxed crust, but decided instead to make my own spelt dough from scratch. I was so excited to be able to cook again, I wanted to make the whole thing myself. It’s been a month since I have made a dough and this one did not come out as well as I had hoped. The toppings are some of our favorites though, so we still wanted to share the recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • dough of your choice
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced and sprinkled with a little salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced
  • 1/2 organic green pepper, diced
  • 1/4 medium size red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 stalk broccoli, stem cut away and saved for another recipe, florets cut into bite size pieces
  • handful vegan mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 ripe avocado or guacamole
  • dash lime juice (optional)
  • a few sliced jalapeños from a jar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Crank your oven up to 450° for about 40 minutes before you plan to put your pizza in the oven.
  2. Smash your garlic, set aside.
  3. Slice your tomatoes, set aside.
  4. Cut your green pepper in half. Store half in the fridge and dice the half you plan to use. (Note: peppers are on the “dirty dozen” list so if you can, buy organic. Green peppers are typically cheaper than red, yellow, or orange.)
  5. Roll out your dough between two large pieces of parchment paper sprinkled with flour or semolina flour. You can also add sesame or other seeds to give your crust a little crunch.
  6. Brush the dough with a little olive oil. Using your fingers, spread the garlic over the crust evenly, avoiding the edges.
  7. Add tomatoes, onions, and green pepper. (Note: if your tomatoes are too wet, dry them on a paper towel first.)
  8. Sprinkle a handful of cheese over the veggies.
  9. Layer with broccoli. Add a few jalapeño slices (Note: you may want to dry these on a paper towel too.)
  10. Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 450°.

While your pizza is baking, slice open your avocado. Scoop the flesh into a small bowl and mash it with a fork. Add a dash of lime juice and salt. Mix well. Give your pizza five minutes to cool when it comes out of the oven, then top with freshly made guacamole.

Everything’s better with guacamole.

We hope you enjoy this pizza. Of course feel free to mix it up and use any veggies you prefer. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, happy, and well fed. If you have a favorite vegan pizza recipe you’d like me to make, let me know @52veganpizzas.

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Week 31:Viva la Pizza!

Pizza… It’s what America’s having for dinner!

José N. Harris, author Mi Vida
Vegan Corn Crust Pizza with Kale and Basil Pesto with Ricotta and Cherry Tomatoes

Here in California we are on week 3 of high heat, high winds, and smoky conditions from nearby fires. Most days it’s too smoky to open our windows or use our window box AC unit, so we’ve been sweltering inside, watching plumes of smoke pass by our windows. We had a one day break in the smoke so were able to use our oven. Of course we used this opportunity to make a pizza!

We had a pre-made corn crust in our fridge taunting me for days that I could not use the oven. I love the buttery flavor, texture, and thickness of this corn crust, but you can use any crust you like. Here’s a link to an easy homemade dough. Most grocery stores also carry pre-made dough in either the refrigerator or freezer sections. Some are quite high in sugar or oil. The beauty of making your own is that you can control the ingredients.

I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand and also use as many healthful veggies as possible, while still respecting flavor combinations and not overwhelming the dish. I also wanted to add a little extra protein, so I created a vegan pesto using almond milk ricotta cheese. You can substitute vegan cream cheese instead. Both versions are super yummy.

If you are lucky enough to have fresh basil, feel free to use more basil and less kale or vice versa. I prefer dino kale, but curly kale works too. If using curly kale, massage it a minute before tossing it into your food processor.

Pesto Ingredients

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 medium size red onion, diced
  • 3-5 stalks of dino kale, rinsed and stems removed
  • handful basil leaves (pictured above, center) rinsed and stems removed
  • 1/2 package vegan ricotta cheese (I used this one from Kite Hill)
  • dash sea salt, dash pepper
  • splash of lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Place kale and basil into the bowl of a food processor with the S-blade attached. Pulse a few times.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process on low until combined. Swipe the inside of the food processor bowl to ensure all ingredients process together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, as you prefer. You can add a dash more lemon juice if you want the mixture to be creamier. Don’t overdo it.

You can use any veggies you have on hand to top your pizza. The beauty of pizza is its versatility. Zucchini and cherry tomatoes are one of our favorites.

Pizza Toppings

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • handful cherry tomatoes
  • dash sea salt, sprinkle red pepper flakes

Assembly

  1. I prefer thin slices of zucchini. Using a vegetable peeler, I go around the outside of a washed zucchini and slice off the skin and “meat” of the zucchini until I see mostly seeds. The seeds can be bitter, so I don’t use the inside “core” of the zucchini. I do eat the colorful outer skin. I end up with long slices of zucchini that are too hard to eat, so I slice the thin slices in thirds, so they are more bite size.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. This releases more flavor from the tomatoes.
  3. Spread a layer of pesto mixture onto your pizza crust. If you are using a thicker crust, as we are with this corn crust, you can make the pesto layer much thicker and your pizza will still bake nicely in the center. If your pizza is thin crust, you may want to use a thinner layer of pesto (and add less lemon so the pesto mix itself is thicker). For thin crust, you may also want to bake it for 1/2 the time with just the pesto mix before adding your toppings.
  4. Adorn with tomatoes (symmetrical pattern of tomato shapes optional). Add zucchini slices or other veggies of choice.
  5. Bake in a hot oven. We put our oven to 425° for 45 minutes before baking our pizza for 13 minutes.
  6. Slice, eat, and enjoy!
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Week 30: Trenta

Electricity is really just organized lightning.

George Carlin

This week we are celebrating our 30th post. We are also celebrating that we have electricity. Fellow Californians will join me in rejoicing for this luxury that we so often take for granted. With electricity we can both heat up our oven and cool down our house. It’s truly a miracle.

Last week intense lightning sparked fires throughout California and there are now over 350 active fires burning throughout the state. We’ve had rolling blackouts and everyday are on alert for possible outages. It’s been super hot, over 90° everyday. Heat is a foe to dough.

Cooks Illustrated tested three dough proofing methods and found that leaving your dough overnight in the fridge makes for a better tasting, more evenly browned crust, than proofing in a warm or even cool room temperature room. If you are short on time, you can use a premade crust, which is what we did this week to create this simple, tasty vegan pizza.

Ingredients

  • pizza crust of choice- we used a thick corn crust that comes in a pack of 2
  • vegan ricotta
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced and lightly salted
  • handful fresh spinach, washed
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 onion, diced
  • 10 jalapeño slices
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbs. olive oil
  • salt, pepper, and dried oregano to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to 425° for about 45 minutes before you bake your pizza.
  2. Heat a frying pan over medium high heat. When hot, add a glug of oil and onions. Stir and let cook 2-3 minutes before adding other ingredients.
  3. Add garlic and heat for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Add salt and pepper.
  5. Add fresh spinach. Turn heat down to low. Let spinach wilt while you prepare your crust and place on parchment paper.
  6. Spread a thin layer of ricotta over the pizza. Sprinkle with oregano.
  7. Add vegan mozzarella (less for thinner crusts).
  8. Top with tomato slices, jalapeño slices, and corn.
  9. Top with onion, garlic, spinach mix.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Slice, share, and enjoy!

We enjoyed this simple pizza, loaded with healthy veggies and layers of flavor. If you have a food processor and want to try another variation, you can put the ricotta, raw onions, garlic, and fresh spinach in a food processor along with a little salt, pepper, and oregano and blend it all together. This makes a yummy base. Top it with mozzarella, tomatoes, corn, and jalapeño. Both ways are delicious. It just depends on whether I feel like getting out my food processor or frying pan!

We hope that wherever you are in the world, you are healthy and safe and that you have something delicious to eat this week. If there’s anything special you’d like to see us make during the next 22 weeks of recipes, let us know @52veganpizzas.

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Week 29: Super Simple Summer Stovetop Pizza

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.

Sam Keen

If your weather is anything like ours this week, you are looking for easy recipes that do not require an oven. Here in Northern California we are sweltering at 102° and have already experienced one three hour blackout from PG&E. I checked out a weather map of the USA and it appears that the entire country is red, even places that typically have more mild temperatures this time of year. Climate change is real and we are feeling it!

If you are looking for something simple and yummy and that does not require much heat, check out this simple summer recipe. It’s light and flavorful and the dough can be pan fried with or without oil in about 5 minutes. NO oven required, though you probably have your own private Bikram studio in your living room right now. We do!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe peach, preferably organic, sliced thin
  • vegan ricotta
  • balsamic vinegar
  • dried currants (optional)
  • honey or agave (optional)
  • dough of choice

A few notes on the ingredients:

I realize that many vegans do not use honey. I did not consume it for many years but then a hive decided to live on our porch and we developed an interest in our local beekeepers. Consuming honey from your local area has numerous health benefits. Of course it’s up to you to decide if honey works for your diet. Agave, yacon syrup, and coconut nectar would all be great substitutes as would just letting the natural sweetness of a tree ripened peach steal the flavor show.

We used Kite Hill brand vegan ricotta. It was $7 from Whole Foods, so not cheap, but definitely better than anything I could make at home. It’s creamy and has a nice texture. I would definitely buy it again and will look for other creative ways to use the rest of the container.

If you have the time, a few hours to a few days before you you make this recipe, place some dried currants in a container, fill it with balsamic vinegar, shake it up, and put it in the fridge. The flavors will meld and your vinegar will take on a sweet flavor. You can keep this mix in the fridge for a few weeks. It makes a nice base for salad dressing, as a marinade, or to dress up veggies or grains. Raisins, apricots, and other dried fruit would work too.

For the crust, I used a piece of leftover dough made with roughly equal parts of whole wheat and all purpose flour. I used honey instead of sugar to activate the yeast. It’s a delicious base for this pizza. You can use any dough you like. You may prefer to use store bought dough as proofing your own in this heat won’t be easy. Pita pockets would work and taste great too. A thicker dough works well for this flavor combo.

Normally I leave my dough out of the fridge for 2-4 hours before use. With this heat, I’d aim for 90 minutes at “room temperature” before frying the dough. Less could work too.

Instructions

  1. Heat your pan over medium-high heat. (I know you don’t want to. This will be over soon!)
  2. Gently shape your dough in a circle using your hands. Place it in the frying pan and push down the edges with your fingers. (I know it sounds like you will burn your fingers, but if your dough is the right thickness, you will not. Work quickly though and err on the side of caution.)
  3. Toast each side of the dough for 2-4 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your dough.
  4. When dough is on the second side, top with ricotta. I used a very modest amount, but you may prefer a thicker layer of cheese.
  5. Take your pizza off the heat. (Yeah, you are done with the heat. Turn it off and be glad it’s over!)
  6. Top with peach slices. Drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar. Add a few currants.
  7. Eat and enjoy!
Delicious Summertime Vegan Pizza

We enjoyed this pizza and plan to make it again. It’s amazing how good a simple pan pizza can be.

If you make this or any other vegan pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas. Next week we hope to again be using our oven and our new French pizza stone that we are excited to use. Wishing you a wonderful and cool week ahead.

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Week 28: A Midsummer Night’s Pizza

If music be the food of love, play on.

William Shakespeare

Here in Northern California we have been blessed with a mostly mild summer, with daytime highs between 80-90° and cooler evening temperatures. Baking a pizza necessitates cranking up the oven to a hot 450° for 45 minutes before baking. If it’s sizzling wherever you are in the world, you may want to make this pizza for dinner or fry the dough in a frying pan on the stove. That’s a yummy, quick way to cook your dough and it works well for this recipe, just omit the mozzarella.

I have been experimenting with different flours and today used a blend of whole wheat and all-purpose flours and a tablespoon of honey instead of a teaspoon of sugar to activate the yeast. I otherwise use this recipe as my “go to” and it’s come out tasty every time.

Vegan Summer Inspired Pizza

Pesto Ingredients

  • vegan plain cream cheese (I used 1/2 of a Violife container.)
  • 2 handfuls spinach leaves (I bought pre-washed organic spinach in a bag.)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • pinch salt (I used Maldon smoked flake sea salt.)
  • dash pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed or diced
  • water to thin
  • squeeze lemon juice (optional)
  • dash nutritional yeast (optional)

Pesto Instructions

  1. Place cream cheese and avocado in the base of your blender.
  2. Add salt, pepper, and garlic cloves.
  3. If using, add nutritional yeast and lemon juice.
  4. Add a dash of water, just enough so that the mixture moves around in your blender. The amount needed will depend on your blender. Don’t add too much! Just enough to blend.
  5. Add the onion and spinach and blend until thoroughly mixed, about 1 minute.

Ingredients

  • pizza dough of your choice
  • handful vegan shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup frozen or canned corn (If frozen, use hot water to unfreeze and bring to room temp.)
  • 1 medium zucchini (I use a peeler and peel them lengthwise, leaving the skin on.)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado (use the other half in the pesto recipe above)
  • 1-2 vine ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat your oven to a balmy 450° for 45 minutes before baking.
  2. Prepare all your veggies so that when you start cooking, you are ready to go.
  3. Heat your frying pan over medium-high heat while you hand shape or roll out your dough. Brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle with a dash of salt. Bake for 5 minutes without any toppings.
  4. While your crust is baking, add a glug of olive oil to your frying pan. Add onions. Stir to coat and stir frequently for 2-3 minutes until onions become translucent.
  5. Add garlic, stir.
  6. Add zucchini, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir for 2 minutes then turn off the heat and add corn.
  7. Carefully remove the crust from the oven and quickly shut the oven door.
  8. Sprinkle cheese over crust. Layer with tomato slices. Spoon the pesto over the pizza. Top with the zucchini, onion, garlic, and corn mixture.
  9. Bake for an additional 7-10 minutes, for a total baking time of 12-15 depending on the true temperature of your oven and the type and thickness of your crust. Our half whole wheat/ half all-purpose flour crust was done in 14 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Top with slices of avocado. Serve and enjoy!

I loved the toppings on this pizza. I have to say the whole wheat crust was not my favorite. I’d rather have just white flour, but whole wheat is the healthier choice. As toppings go, this is my among my top three favorites. Zucchini, tomatoes, sweet corn, mozzarella and avocados go great together and make for a filling meal.

If you make this or any other vegan pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas. Until next week, happy eating.

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Week 27: Summer Vegan BBQ

No one could have prepared me for BBQ on pizza. I mean, both are great. But together? It was incredible.

Pau Gasol

There’s something about late summer that calls for the flavor of barbeque. As a lifelong vegetarian this was not a flavor I grew up with. Recently I’ve come to like the novelty of BBQ sauce on vegetables or as coating on vegan proteins, such as tofu or tempeh cubes. Inspired by this recipe from Connisseurus Veg, we decided to pair the tangy flavor of BBQ with cauliflower and chickpeas.

The flavor of this pizza is dependent on having a great tasting BBQ sauce. If you have a favorite, great. I’m still looking for a vegan one I like. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. In the meantime, you can make your own.

Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. You will put the washed and cut cauliflower florets and chick peas directly into the sauce, so starting with a big bowl will reduce the number of dishes you have to do.

I made a lot of BBQ sauce so decided to coat both the cauliflower florets and chickpeas in the mixture. Other recipes call for just the chickpeas to simmer in the sauce and the cauliflower to roast on a baking sheet, coated with olive oil. It’s entirely up to you. I figured if I’m going for a BBQ flavor, I’m coating both and going all the way.

Ingredients

  • pizza dough
  • BBQ sauce, a little more than 1 cup
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1/2-3/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed thoroughly under running water
  • 1/3 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed or minced
  • Jalapeño slices, drained on a paper towel to squeeze out excess moisture
  • olive oil
  • 3/4 cup vegan mozzarella
  • 1 medium ripe tomato
  • 1 ripe avocado

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Whisk up your BBQ ingredients or if using a premade sauce you like, decide if you want to dress it up with some additional spices or flavors or leave it as is. Add cut cauliflower florets and chickpeas. Toss to coat.
  3. Heat a skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. When warm, add a glug of olive oil.
  4. Add onions and stir to coat. Heat for 3 minutes until onions are translucent.
  5. Add garlic.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, add the cauliflower florets. (I had no problem separating them from the chickpeas. If this frustrates you, add them both at the same time.) After a few minutes, add the chickpeas.
  7. Slice your tomato into thin slices. Sprinkle a bit of salt over them to release more flavor.
  8. Roll out your dough on a piece of parchment paper to approximate a 12-14 inch circle. (If it comes out a square or some other shape, that’s OK. It’s better not to fuss with your dough too much and interesting shaped pizzas are a great conversation starter.)
  9. Brush the edges of your pizza with olive oil. Sprinkle the vegan mozzarella over the pizza, leaving a 1/2 inch edge uncovered.
  10. Place tomato slices around the pizza in a thin layer.
  11. When cauliflower are near fork tender, remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, spoon cauliflower/chickpea BBQ mixture over the pizza.
  12. Top with jalapeño slices.
  13. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until it smells done.
  14. After your pizza is baked, top with sliced avocado.
  15. Eat and enjoy!
Vegan BBQ Pizza with Cauliflower, Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Avocado, and Jalapeño Slices

We really enjoyed this pizza. The tangy taste of the homemade BBQ sauce, melted mozzarella, and jalapeño slices go great together. Vine ripe tomatoes are delicious this time of year. Plus avocados are ripe and in season. Delish!

If you have suggestions for pizzas you’d like us to make in the future, let us know @52veganpizzas.

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Week 26: Veggies

There’s very little in my world that a foot massage and a thin crust, everything-on-it pizza won’t set right.

G.A. McKevett
Sweet Crust, No Cheese, Vegan Veggie Pizza

Sometimes you just want a simple, healthy, all veggie pizza. As we’ve gotten more accustomed to eating at least one pizza a week, I’ve come to think of pizza less as a special occasion food and more of a quick, weeknight meal.

Pizza is a versatile food. You can use any veggies you have on hand and try new flavor combinations. The combo of peppers, mushrooms, kale, and tomatoes makes a flavorful meal, reminiscent of a visit to the farmers market. (We really miss our local market, but it’s been closed since March.)

We decided to make this a cheese-free pizza and roll the dough thin, a bit more like a flatbread. It was delicious, also quick and easy to make.

Ingredients

  • favorite pizza dough
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and lightly salted
  • handful white button mushrooms (we used 5), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, cubed
  • 1/3 white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 stalks dino kale, rinsed well, pulled from the stem, and lightly massaged
  • favorite red sauce (optional), you can also hand smash some cherry tomatoes, salt them and use as a base
  • olive oil
  • dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Always start by heating your oven. I crank mine to 450° for at least 45 minutes before I plan to bake my pizza.
  2. Make your dough and let rest for at least 15 minutes. If using refrigerated dough, take it out of the fridge about 2 hours before you plan to use it. Cold dough won’t cooperate. It must be room temperature to roll out or hand toss properly.
  3. Chop your veggies and have everything ready before you start to cook. The French call this mise en place, putting everything in place. It makes the cooking part much more fun when you don’t have to stop in the middle and chop and dice while also keeping an eye on your pan. Do yourself a favor and chop it all before you start.
  4. Heat your frying pan on medium high heat for a few minutes so that it is really warm before you start to cook.
  5. Heat a glug of olive oil in the pan. Add onions, stirring to coat with oil. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Stir the onions occasionally.
  6. Add garlic and stir to combine. Stir again after 10, 20, and then 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, add your other veggies.
  7. Start with the veggies that will take the longest to cook. I added the bell pepper and mushrooms first. Stir to combine.
  8. After 2-3 minutes, add the kale. I tear it from the stalks and massage it a bit in my hands before adding it to the frying pan. This helps it break down, cooking faster and also digesting easier.
  9. Cook this mix for another 2-3 minutes, adding the sliced and salted tomatoes at the end. Turn off the heat and let the mix stay in the frying pan while you roll out your dough.
  10. Roll dough to desired size. Top with a scant amount of marinara sauce or smash some tomatoes, add a bit of salt, pepper, and oregano, and use your homemade sauce. You can also brush a bit of olive oil around the edges of the dough to create a darker crust.
  11. Top with veggie mix. Just let it slide right out of the frying pan and onto your pizza and sauce base.
  12. Bake for 12-14 minutes. Your baking time will vary depending on the true temperature of your oven and the size of your pizza. If you like a pizza with more sauce and thicker toppings, it’s a good idea to bake the crust and sauce for 2-3 minutes before adding additional toppings.

We really like this simple, earthy pizza. It feels like a health food because there are so many veggies. It’s a great way to get kids (and picky adults) to eat their veggies. I wasn’t a big fan of mushrooms until we started having them on pizza. Now I love the texture and bite they provide.

If you make this or any other vegan pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas. Until next time, buon appetito.

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Week 25: Tempeh Tops It

Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.

Bill Murray

I loved last week’s pizza so much that I wanted to try another version using tempeh and mozzarella, which surprisingly taste great together. Whenever I can, without sacrificing taste, I add veggies, protein, herbs and spices to my food.

I added a heaping teaspoon of dried oregano to the dough before its first rise. Oregano adds a depth of flavor. It’s also reported to have numerous health benefits. Oregano is rich in antioxidants. It’s thought to have antibacterial properties, reduce viral infection, and ease sore muscles. Sounds good to me.

As if that wasn’t healthy enough, I decided to add tempeh. If you aren’t familiar with this wonder food, I highly recommend you try it. Personally I prefer to tempeh to tofu in most dishes. Silken tofu makes great desserts and firm tofu makes a good base for vegan sour cream. For savory dishes, I typically prefer the firm texture and nutty taste of tempeh.

Cubes of Tempeh

Ingredients

  • Tempeh – I prefer this one, but you can use any tempeh you like
  • Vegan mozzarella – I prefer this one, again, use any vegan cheese you like that melts well (not all do)
  • tomato sauce, jarred or crush your own, starting with a can of whole, organic tomatoes
  • jalapeño slices
  • broccoli
  • frozen corn
  • garlic
  • onion
  • pizza dough – this is my go-to recipe when I’m short on time
  • Olive or avocado oil
  • Sriracha, coconut aminos, maple syrup or agave (all optional, for the tempeh marinade below)

You can use any veggies you like. I highly recommend the flavor combo of tempeh, mozzarella, and jalapeño slices. Garlic and onions find their way into all of my pizza recipes. See the dark things on the pizza? Those are sun dried tomatoes. Awesome on Mediterranean flavored pizzas. I wouldn’t recommend them on this one.

Instructions

If you have the time and ingredients, I highly recommend you marinate your tempeh for a few minutes before frying it. It’s super simple. Just squirt some Sriracha, coconut aminos, and maple syrup into a wide bowl and mix. Add slices of tempeh, coat on both sides, and leave in the bowl for a few minutes while you prepare your veggies.

  1. About an hour before you want to put your pizza into the oven, turn it on and turn it up to 450°.
  2. Cut your tempeh into cubes or whatever shape you prefer. Longer, thinner strips work too. Marinate them if you plan to do so.
  3. Drain jalapeño slices on a paper towel. Use as many as you like. My partner and I each want to eat about 5, so I drain 10 then cut them into small bits to sprinkle around the pizza.
  4. Dice 1/3 of an onion.
  5. Crush 3 garlic cloves. (I use a Zyliss and crush them over the frying pan or sometimes directly onto the dough before I add the toppings. Sometimes I do both and am grateful that my partner and I eat the same things because we both smell like garlic!)
  6. Boil some water and pour it over the frozen corn until it completely covers the corn. I use about 1/3 cup of corn for a medium size pizza. Corn is one of the few frozen veggies I regularly use. It’s so much easier than fresh and it adds a delicate sweetness to dishes. Let sit for a few minutes, then drain before using.
  7. Chop the broccoli into bite size pieces.
  8. Heat your frying pan. If you are using the marinade, it’s best to spray a bit of oil into the pan so the tempeh does not stick. Fry for 3 minutes on each side.
  9. Once the tempeh is cooked on both sides, plop it out of the frying pan and onto a paper towel. If you have a drying rack for baked goods, place the paper towel over it. This will keep your tempeh from getting soggy while you make the rest of the dish.
  10. In the same hot frying pan, add a glug of olive or avocado oil. Add your onions and heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add the garlic, stir for 30 seconds.
  12. Add the broccoli and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. Add the drained corn and jalapeño slices. Stir. Turn the heat off but keep the frying pan on the stovetop.
  14. Roll out your dough. Or be fancy and flip it in the air until it forms the size you want.
  15. Spoon on a modest amount of tomato sauce. More = soggy and you don’t want that.
  16. Cover with a handful of vegan cheese. I love mozzarella and cheddar on pizzas, but it’s up to you.
  17. Spread the pan fried veggie mix over your pizza. Add the tempeh.
  18. Bake for 12-15 minutes in a 450° oven.
  19. Enjoy!

We loved this pizza and plan to make it again. The combo of tempeh, cheese, and jalapeños on warm pizza makes for an outstanding meal. If you make this or any other vegan pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas.

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Week 24:Peanut Butter BBQ

I’m going to live until I die, and everything in between is just another excuse to eat peanut butter.

Dana Gould, Comedian
Peanut Butter BBQ Pizza with Spelt Crust

Sometimes you just have to try new flavor combinations. As a lifelong vegetarian, BBQ hasn’t been high on my list. But BBQ sauce inspired vegan pizza ideas keep popping up, so I figured I would try this unusual one—BBQ and peanut butter.

After years of paying $15-20 a jar for cashew, walnut, almond and other fancy nut butters, I’ve circled back to loving the taste (and lower price) of good, old-fashioned peanut butter. Peanuts have protein, carbs, and fat, in addition to vitamin E, B3, B6, folate, magnesium, copper, and manganese. What’s not to love?

I adapted this week’s recipe from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Pizza book. We’ve had at least 40 different vegan pizzas this year. Her recipes are consistently delicious and reliable. This week we didn’t get our usual produce delivery. It was both my birthday and a good friend’s b-day. Since we knew we’d be getting takeout twice (fancy lunch packed in tin foil for me, burritos over Zoom to celebrate with our friend), I let our produce drawer get lean. One of my resolutions this year is to waste less food and throw away less produce.

When I make this recipe again (and I am sure I will, it was that good!), I’d try Julie’s suggested toppings—green bell pepper, yellow onion, and corn. I used yellow squash, red onion, and marinated tempeh. Tempeh and peanut butter? Yes, I know, it sounds strange, and it’s mixing two protein types in one dish, which can cause stomach upset for some. To me, this pizza was every bit as good as my fancy birthday lunch and I’d happily eat it again.

Unbaked Vegan Spelt Flour Pizza with Peanut Butter and Tempeh

My partner was not keen to try this one, so I used a piece of dough I had left over in the fridge and made a personal pizza. Since I figure you will be making this for two, the amounts below are for a generous medium size pizza.

Peanut Butter BBQ Sauce

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter- I used chunky, smooth works too
  • 1/8 cup vegan BBQ sauce- I used Primal Kitchen brand because it’s sugar free
  • 1-2 tablespoons hot water to thin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • dash cayenne

Note: Julie Hasson’s recipe calls for equal parts peanut butter and BBQ sauce, only 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, and 2 cloves of garlic. My variation is what I tired and loved. Feel free to adjust the quantities to suit your taste buds. I love garlic and had garlic so am surprised I left it out. But, I tasted it before putting the garlic in and liked the sweetness so left it that way. In the future I am sure I’ll try it with the garlic too.

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and let sit while you prepare the toppings.

Tempeh Marinating in a Green Bowl

I avoid tofu. I admit it. I used to think that made me a bad vegan, that I had to try harder to like it. But, then I found tempeh and let go of my tofu avoidance guilt. If you haven’t tried tempeh before, this is my favorite.

Usually I cut the tempeh into strips and fry them without oil in an eco-friendly non-stick pan, 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. For this recipe, I added a marinade. Tempeh will take on whatever flavor you give it, which makes it versatile.

Tempeh Marinade

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut aminos or Braggs
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup

Whisk these two ingredients in a wide bowl. Place strips of tempeh into the bowl, turning them over to coat both sides. Let sit for a few minutes while you roll out your dough.

Dough

For this recipe I used spelt flour because we’ve been making a lot of crust with all-purpose, bread, and pizza flours and I wanted to try something new. The recipe below is a basic pizza dough recipe that can be used with any of those four flours mentioned. Each flour has a different protein content and will behave a bit differently.

As a basic recipe, this works for many flours. I have not tried it with gluten-free flour yet. Also, I don’t recommend this recipe with oat, coconut, buckwheat or almond flours. (I actually don’t think pizza would taste especially good with those flours.) If you have a specific flour you want to use, the best thing to do is to Google a recipe for your specific flour type.

This recipe works with spelt, all-purpose, bread, and pizza flour.

Dough Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm, but not boiling water (105-110° if you have a thermometer)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Dough Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add sugar, yeast, and warm water. Let stand for 3 minutes until yeast bubbles.
  2. Add 2 cups flour, salt, and oil. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon or spatula until the mix just comes together.
  3. Knead with hands for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Lightly oil a bowl twice the size of your dough. Place dough in the bowl and flip over to cover both sides lightly with oil. Cover with a damp tea towel and set in a warm, draft-free place to rest for 15 minutes.

Note: You can let the dough rest longer if you have more time. I aim for 1 hour, but don’t always make the dough earlier enough to do this. It’s not a necessity for this recipe. Fifteen minutes is fine if that’s what you got.

If you don’t have coconut sugar, honey tastes great. You need some sort of sugar for the yeast to activate.

Assembly

  1. Heat your oven to 450°.
  2. Roll out your dough to desired thickness.
  3. Spread on peanut butter BBQ sauce.
  4. Sprinkle a layer of vegan mozzarella shreds over the sauce.
  5. Add your veggies. I used red onions and yellow squash, pan fried in a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes.
  6. I dropped the veggie mix onto my pizza and then used the already lightly oiled and hot frying pan to fry the tempeh. To do this, use a fork or tongs to take the tempeh out of the marinade (it will have soaked up most of it) and pan fry for 3 minutes on each side. Cut the tempeh into thirds and sprinkle around the pizza.
  7. Bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size and thickness of your pizza.
Spelt Crust Vegan Pizza with Mozzarella, Veggies, Tempeh, and Peanut Butter BBQ Sauce

I loved this pizza and will definitely make it again. The flavor combination of BBQ peanut butter sauce with melted mozzarella and veggies is delicious. Next time I will try different veggies. Even with our limited produce selection this week, it was a great meal and one I’d happily recommend.

If you make this or any other pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas.

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Week 23: Zucca di zucca

The burst of subconscious virtuousness that comes from first buying butternut squash makes it easier to put a pint of ice cream in the cart later.

Charles Duhigg
Vegan Butternut Squash Pizza

As a lifelong vegetarian, going out to eat with meat eating friends pretty much consisted of ordering a salad. You might get lucky enough to order soup, if it wasn’t made with chicken or beef stock. It’s only been in the last decade when some areas of the country have finally started to offer more plant-based meals. One of the few dishes I remember having and loving as a child was butternut squash soup from Wolfgang Puck’s. It was creamy, delicious, and smelled of a bountiful fall harvest.

I have such strong memories of this velvety soup that I wanted to recreate that “mouth feel” on a pizza. In week 14 we tried a butternut squash pizza recipe, but with frozen, organic butternut squash cubes, because we couldn’t find any whole butternut squash in season.

It was OK. The pizza was great, but I picked the butternut squash off my pizza. So, I wouldn’t call that a big success.

According to Bon Appétit, butternut squash is available year-round (which means you really shouldn’t have to buy it frozen), and is best from early fall through winter. In our local grocery store, however, it showed up in early summer.

We decided to recreate a similar recipe using real squash, using the leftovers to make soup.

We didn’t realize how hard it would be to cut the squash. It was really, really hard. This prompted me to ask for a proper chef’s knife for my birthday next week, instead of less practical things like a drum or a hula hoop. Butternut squash requires a chef’s knife, chainsaw, or meat cleaver.

To save your fingers, if you are trying this for the first time, here’s a helpful tutorial I found, after we had been hacking away at our squash for about 20 minutes. The one part of the tutorial we did not follow, that in retrospect would have been very helpful, is to put it in the microwave for two minutes before trying to peel it.

I’m not going to run out and buy another whole butternut squash again, but if I ever do, I won’t skip the microwave step.

So far this year we’ve made about forty pizzas. I’m getting pretty good at making and rolling out the dough, if I do say so myself. I can roll the crust pretty thin and get consistent results every time.

What makes each pizza unique are the toppings. For this pizza, we made a variation of our week 14 pizza, inspired by vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli. Her butternut squash, caramelized onion, and apple pizza has a white bean puree base. We tried it her way and then again using vegan mozzarella and decided the cheese version tastes better to us.

Cheese makes everything better. It also balances the earthy flavor of the squash, the sweetness of the caramelized onions, and the tartness of the apples. The flavor combo here is tasty, one of our favorites.

Unbaked Vegan Butternut Squash Pizza

Ingredients

For the roasted squash
  • 2 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the onion and apple topping
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium red apple, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Other ingredients
  • pizza dough of your choice
  • shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
Baked Vegan Butternut Squash Pizza

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°.
  2. Place butternut squash cubes in a bowl. Cover with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Turn out onto a baking sheet or pan. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until squash is tender. (Note: if your squash cubes are small, roasting time will be less. Don’t let them burn.)
  4. While the squash is baking, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.
  5. Over medium-high heat, sauté the onions until soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. (It seriously takes this long. If you are impatient, like me, this will seem like a long, long time!)
  6. Season with salt and pepper. (Note: don’t add salt in the early stages of frying the onions. Wait. Be patient.)
  7. Add the sliced apples and fry another 4-6 minutes.
Cut and Cooling, Butternut Squash Vegan Pizza

Assembly

  1. When your butternut squash comes out of the oven, turn it up to 450°. You want your oven hot for pizza.
  2. Roll out your dough to your desired thickness. We made this one one a thinner crust pizza.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of mozzarella around the pizza, leaving a 1/2 inch edge.
  4. Slide the onion and apple mixture out of the pan and on to your pizza, using a spoon or tongs to even it out.
  5. Top with the roasted butternut squash.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, depending on the size of your pizza and the temperature of your oven.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes, then slice, eat, and enjoy!
Slices of Vegan Butternut Squash Pizza

We liked this pizza, but I don’t think we’ll be trying to cut up another butternut squash again anytime soon. Although, if I get that chef’s knife for my birthday, I might consider it. Since it’s my birthday, I might be adding that pint of ice cream too!

If you make this or any vegan pizza recipes, we’d love to know about it @52veganpizzas. Buon appetito!

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Week 22: VegeQ

If summer had one defining scent, it’d definitely be the smell of barbeque.

Katie Lee
BBQ Hawaiian Protein Pizza

As a lifelong vegetarian and longtime vegan, barbeque has not been a part of my life. In researching creative pizza ideas for this blog, I kept seeing recipes that involved BBQ sauce, so I decided to try it. I found a vegan BBQ sauce that doesn’t have sugar (woo hoo!) and adapted this week’s recipe from several I found on the web.

My partner is an omnivore, but not a fan of BBQ. He wasn’t wildly enthusiastic about trying this pizza. To sweeten the idea, I loaded it up with some of his favorite toppings- peppers, tomatoes, onions, and vegan mozzarella.

The sauce we used has a very delicate flavor, which was a good entry for us into the world of BBQ. I’m mostly familiar with the flavor of barbeque from eating potato chips. Incidentally, BBQ potato chips are Gwyneth Paltrow’s favorite splurge food. Go figure!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned pineapple chunks
  • 2/3 can of garbanzo beans
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 3 small sweet peppers or 1 medium bell pepper
  • vegan BBQ sauce
  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella
  • pizza dough of your choice
  • Avocado oil
  • salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Turn your oven on to 450° and let it heat up for at least 35 minutes.
  2. Strain the garbanzo beans and rinse them under cold running water for at least 1 minute. Put the beans into a bowl and toss them with BBQ sauce to cover.
  3. Slice your pineapples and let the slices drain on a paper towel. For flavor, I recommend you can add a dash of cinnamon to the pineapple pieces.
  4. Heat your frying pan over medium heat. Add a glug of avocado oil. Fry the onions for 2-3 minutes, then add the sliced peppers and pineapple, stirring occasionally. Let fry for another 5 minutes.
  5. Slice the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Roll out your dough to desired thickness.
  2. Spread a thin amount of BBQ sauce over the center of the pizza, leaving the edge bare.
    ~~ At this point, you could bake the pizza for about 3 minutes before adding toppings. This will ensure that the center of the crust is cooked through.
  3. Sprinkle with mozzarella.
  4. Top with the marinated garbanzo beans.
  5. Add the onion/pepper/pineapple mix over the top.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your dough. If you pre-bake it for 3 minutes, reduce the overall baking time, using 14 minutes as your average baking time guide.

We enjoyed this pizza. It reminded us of our Hawaiian themed pizza during week 4. This pizza has the addition of marinated garbanzo beans. Adding beans to pizza is a great way to up the protein intake and make it feel like a more filling meal.

I still want to make one more pineapple pizza, this time with toasted macadamia nuts. It just sounds so good! After 2 years, I finally used the special pineapple peeler that I just had to have when we moved into this apartment. It was fun!

Now that I know how easy it is to use, I may be hollowing out some pineapples to make pina coladas or this recipe for healthy and delicious pineapple fried rice, inspired by a dish we ate in Thailand.

If there’s a pizza you’d like us to try, let us know. 52veganrecipes @ gmail.com.

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Week 21: Creative Calzoni

Mushrooms can be very fancy. It’s the closest you can get to eating dirt.

Tom Colicchio

Realizing we are almost at the halfway point in our pizza journey (and in this crazy year!) we wanted to try something new. There’s a vegan restaurant we love a few hours from our home that serves an amazing mushroom and vegan cheese calzone.

Because of Covid-19 we haven’t been to a restaurant in 3 months. Today is our 3rd anniversary, so to celebrate, we wanted to try and recreate the calzone we love in our own kitchen.

I did a little research about the origins of this yummy food. Like its sister the pizza, calzone was invented in Naples in the 18th century. Pizza was considered a food you sat down to eat at a table with a knife and fork, like a civilized European. Italians are not big fans of eating on the run. But workers needed a meal they could grab and eat on the go.

Calzoni (plural for calzone) were known as “walking around pizza.” The name calzone is related to the Italian words for “trouser” and “pant leg.” Eighteenth century Italian calzoni were much smaller than the American versions we are familiar with today. The small half-moon shaped pockets were easy to eat with one hand.

Like many food items that Americans have embraced from abroad, we super size it and add our own twist. It’s customary in America to top calzoni with a brush of olive oil, a dash of salt, some crushed garlic, a sprinkle of parsley, and to serve it alongside marinara sauce for dipping. I think these are excellent additions to this culinary marvel.

three fresh baked calzoni

From my research it seems that most people use the same dough for pizza and calzoni. We used our favorite recipe and added a teaspoon of dried oregano that made the crust smell delicious as it was baking in the oven.

A few tips about this dough recipe… I’ve made it with both active dry and instant yeast and have not noticed a difference. I’ve run out of sugar (I usually buy organic brown coconut sugar) and substituted honey, which gave the crust a nice flavor. I’ve run out of EVOO and used avocado oil or walnut oil instead. All three of these oils work great. I wouldn’t use coconut oil for this recipe. If you don’t have pizza flour, all purpose or bread flour work too. Traditional pizza in Naples is made with 00 flour, which has a lower gluten content than either all purpose or bread flour.

Dough Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup hot water (about 110°)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2-2.5 cups pizza flour, plus extra for dusting

Dough Instructions

  1. Mix yeast, sugar, and hot water in a large bowl. Set timer for 3 minutes. Yeast should foam/ bloom.
  2. Add oil, salt, and oregano.
  3. Stir in 2 cups of flour. Use your hands (they will get sticky, but it’s nice to work directly with your dough) or the end of a wooden spoon or spatula.
  4. Take a look at your dough. If it is too wet to handle, add additional flour. Add a bit at a time and don’t overdo it. The dough should be sticky to the touch. I fill a 1/4 cup measuring cup, sprinkle in half that amount of flour, mix, see if that’s enough. If not, I add more, slowly. You may need to add up to 1/2 cup total to get the right consistency.
  5. Cover your dough with a damp tea towel and let it rest for 15 minutes, longer if you have time.

For the inside of your calzone, you can use any vegetables you like. If you are ambitious, you can make your own vegan cheese. Calzoni are frequently made with a blend of ricotta and mozzarella cheese. My partner and I are not big fans of ricotta, so we went with mozzarella only. The melted cheese really brings the dish together.

Calzone Ingredients

  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • large handful crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 small sweet peppers, sliced
  • 1/3 English cucumber, sliced and quartered
  • 1 cup vegan mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil for frying veggies or vegetable stock
  • salt, pepper, cumin

Calzone Instructions

  1. Let frying pan heat up for 5 minutes while you finish chopping your veggies.
  2. Add a glug of oil. Add the onions. Stir occasionally for 3 minutes while the onions cook.
  3. Add garlic and stir.
  4. Add mushrooms and, if using, a few tablespoons of vegetable stock or coconut aminos.
  5. Add your veggies and stir in your spices.
  6. Let the veggies cook in the frying pan for about 5 minutes on low-medium heat while you roll out your dough.

Assembly

It’s up to you how big you want your calzoni. You can make a big family sized one or portion your dough into individual serving sizes. Using the dough recipe above, we made 3 calzoni (since it’s our 3rd anniversary) and saved one piece for the next day. As you can see in the photos below, ours were about the size of my hand.

I used about 1/3 cup of mozzarella and 2/3 cup of veggies to fill each calzone. Place the ingredients on one side of the dough, leave 1/2 inch of naked dough around the edge.

Fold the untopped side over the mound of veggies. Tuck the top edge of the dough into and around the bottom edge of the dough. Press down the edges with a fork.

Brush the top with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Cut two or more thin slits into the top of your pocket to let steam out while cooking. This is an important step, so don’t skip it.

our first calzone, brushed with EVOO, topped with salt, and waiting to go into the hot oven

As always, make sure your oven is super hot before baking. We preheat ours to 450° for 40 minutes, then turn it down to 425° once we put the calzoni into the oven. Ours took 14 minutes to bake to golden brown perfection. We could smell that they were done!

We really liked the calzoni and had fun making them. We used an extra piece of dough to make the same veggie medley as a flat pizza the next day. We liked the novelty of making calzoni but in general prefer pizza.

If you are a fan of Parks & Recreation, you may disagree. Calzones are, afterall, “a portable, delicious meal that is its own container.”

Whether you prefer pizza or calzone, we wish you buon appetito. Until next week…

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Week 20: Viva la Mexico!

So how as a nation can we sit around and eat Mexican food, and drink beer and make friends? That’s the question. If we can do that on a broader scale, I think we’ll come out of it all right.

Sandra Day O’Connor
Vegan Mexican Pizza Topped with Ripe Avocado

For the next 7 weeks I am in a class on Friday afternoons. I asked my partner if he would make lunch on those days. We got our weekly food delivery on Monday so when Friday rolled around I was worried we wouldn’t have enough fresh produce for him to work with.

I was so wrong! He made the most amazing burrito I’ve ever tasted. One surprise ingredient I didn’t expect him to use was cucumber. We were out of zucchini so he used cucumber slices in the burrito. Seasoned with cumin, coconut aminos, and siracha, wrapped in a tortilla shell with melted cheddar cheese, it was truly an outstanding meal.

For this week’s pizza I wanted to see if I could recreate that delicious blend of flavors on a pizza. The answer is yes. What we loved in a burrito easily works well topped on a homemade thin crust pizza. We both rank it among our top three favorites so far this year (and we’ve been eating a LOT of pizza!).

Ingredients

  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and sprinkled with salt
  • 1/2 a cucumber, sliced into thin rounds, then sliced in half
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, diced
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 a can of black beans, rinsed
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach leaves
  • 1 cup vegan cheddar cheese shreds
  • 1/2 cup of red enchilada sauce
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • Salt, pepper, cumin
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons siracha
  • Pizza dough of your choice

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450°.
  2. Make your pizza dough, if you haven’t already. Recipe for perfect every time 15 minute dough is below…
  3. Heat frying pan over medium high heat. After 3 minutes or so of heating the pan, add a glug of oil. We love avocado oil, olive and other vegetable oils also work.
  4. Stir fry the 1/4 cup of diced onions in the oil for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add cucumber slices and beans. Stir for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and cumin, to taste.
  7. Add the coconut aminos and siracha, to taste.
  8. Add spinach and gently stir to combine. (We used pre-washed, bagged spinach)
  9. When the spinach wilts, it’s time to turn off the heat and assemble your pizza.
Unbaked Vegan Mexican Pizza

Assembly

  1. On a piece of parchment paper, roll out your pizza dough to desired size. We used 2/3 of the recipe below and saved 1/3 for garlic knots the next day.
  2. Spoon 1/2-2/3 of a cup of red enchilada sauce on your dough. In the Italian tradition, and let’s face it, they’re the pizza masters, sauce should not be too thick. There should be areas of the pizza where the white dough shows through a thin layer of sauce.
  3. Sprinkle vegan cheese over the sauce.
  4. Layer with your pan fried veggies, leaving 1/2 inch of dough around the perimeter.
  5. Top with sliced tomatoes and the onion rounds.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes at 450°. (Baking time will vary depending on your pizza size and thickness, and your oven. If you smell the pizza, it’s probably time to take it out of the oven.)
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes. Top with slices of ripe avocado. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Vegan Mexican Pizza

Notes & Tips

  • We love Violife brand vegan cheese. If it’s available where you live, I highly recommend you try it. Yes, you can make your own vegan cheese from cashews and other nuts. I have made a few vegan cheese sauces that were pretty good. For pizza, my “go to” cheeses are Violife’s mozzarella or cheddar cheese. It’s already shredded, which to me is another plus. If I am making a pizza, it’s nice to have some ingredients ready right from the fridge. (Note: We get no compensation from Violife, we just genuinely appreciate their products. And I ate artificial tasting, gritty vegan cheese for three decades of my life. No more!)
  • I ran out of sugar and made a conscious decision to wait a few weeks before buying more. When making the pizza dough, I remembered that yeast needs a sugar boost, so I used a tablespoon of honey instead. I know many vegans do not use honey. We buy honey from a family a mile away that has a backyard beekeeping project. If you don’t use honey, agave also works.
  • This is our “go to” pizza dough recipe. You can absolutely make it in 5 minutes, let it rest for 15, roll it out and bake it. I’ve used this recipe at least 15 times so far and it’s tasted great each time. It was a happy accident to discover that honey works well in the dough. It gave the pizza a slight sweetness which we both liked.
  • For this pizza, I rolled the dough as thin as I could without it tearing. It was still fairly thick because I am a home cook and not a pizzaiolo, but I tried! One tip is to bake the pizza for 2-3 minutes before topping it so that it will crisp up in the middle. We don’t mind a slightly doughy taste, especially with melted cheese and avocado.
  • If you don’t happen to have a jar of red enchilada sauce in your cupboard, don’t worry. You can use jarred pizza sauce or easily make your own red sauce from a can of tomatoes. If all you have on hand are ripe tomatoes, crush a few, add salt and oregano, and make that your base layer.
Vegan Mexican Pizza Topped with Lots of Avocado

This pizza goes especially well with margaritas, beer, or Trilogy kombucha. If you make this pizza or any other vegan pizza from this blog, we’d love to know. Provecho!

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Week 19: It’s All Greek to Me

“…like that star of the waning summer who beyond all stars rises bathed in the ocean stream to glitter in brilliance.”

Homer, The Iliad
Vegan Greek Pizza

This week’s pizza was created to honor a new course of study I am embarking on next month. I’ve had a lifelong interest in astrology. Over the years I’ve picked up bits and pieces of information, taken classes, studied books, and read countless horoscopes. I’ve learned a lot of random information about astrology, but I haven’t yet had the tools to put it all together into a synthesized chart reading.

Next month I start year one of a three year program in Hellenistic astrology, exploring astrology’s ancient roots. I don’t know much about ancient Greek culture, so I am also taking this free Coursera class on the Ancient Greeks. I had to ask my partner to explain The Iliad to me because I found it very confusing!

The pottery, dress, and lifestyle of the time is very interesting to me. I don’t know a lot about Greek cuisine. When I think of Greek food, I think of the ubiquitous salad, pita bread with hummus and tzatziki sauce, dolmas, and baklava. Have you ever tried to bake with phyllo dough? I have and I swore never to try it again.

We decided this week’s pizza should be an honoring to the Greek gods. It’s based on a Greek salad, minus the lettuce and feta cheese. If you are a fan of feta, you can now buy vegan feta in grocery stores. We both dislike the taste of dairy feta so decided to make the base layer hummus instead. Beans are healthy, full of fiber and protein, and easy to flavor.

Chickpea hummus

Quick Hummus

  • 1 (15 oz.) can of garbanzo beans
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt, pepper, paprika to taste

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the tahini and lemon juice. Process for 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through.
  2. Add the olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, and salt. Process for 1 minute, scraping the sides of the bowl halfway through.
  3. Rinse your chickpeas until the water runs clear. (You can save the liquid the chickpeas were canned in and use it to make vegan aquafaba brownies. They are amazing! I made two batches in one week.)
  4. Add the rinsed chickpeas to the food processor. Process until smooth, adding about 2 tablespoons of water to thin as needed.

Homemade hummus is always better than store bought and it’s easy to make. You can spice it as you like and get the consistency just right. If you prefer smooth hummus, follow the recipe above and start by whipping the tahini before you add the beans. This nifty trick came from Inspired Taste.

Pizza Ingredients

  • Dough of choice- we use this recipe as our go to dough
  • Batch of hummus
  • 1 (15 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes- we used fire roasted for some added flavor
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 10 Kalamata olives, sliced in half
  • artichoke hearts- we used a small jar of water and herb marinated hearts
  • Olive oil

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425° for about 30 minutes.
  2. Roll out your pizza dough. Brush it with olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness.
  3. While the crust is baking, make your red sauce. Drain half of the liquid from the can of tomatoes. Heat on the stove in a small pot with a lid. (Traditionally, Italians hand crush whole, canned tomatoes. If that sounds fun, go for it!) If you are using unsalted and unspiced tomatoes, add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano, spicing it as you like. We used fire roasted tomatoes and added about a teaspoon of oregano.
  4. While the crust is baking and the sauce is simmering on the stove, slice the olives in half. Slice the artichoke hearts in thirds. You may want to drain the artichoke hearts on a paper towel if they seem wet.
  5. When the pizza crust is done baking, remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Slather with hummus, then red sauce, then olives and artichoke hearts. If you prefer, you can bake the crust for 10 minutes, slather and layer the ingredients, and then bake for another 5 minutes so the hummus and veggies get hot.

We loved this pizza. It inspired us to create another variation using navy beans, sun dried tomatoes, and capers as the “hummus” base. That pizza was so delicious it needs a post of it’s own. I am sure this was not our last nod to Greek cuisine. There is so much more to explore.

If you are curious about other vegan Greek food recipes, The Greek Vegan has some great looking recipes. I want to try the chocolate date balls and the pumpkin bread. Until next week, Kalí óreksi! That’s Greek for bon appétit.

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Week 18: Simplicity

Pizza is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Confucius (translation inexact)
Freedom Pizza

Sometimes in life simplicity is needed. As much as we wanted to use the space of this blog to try creative vegan pizza recipes, who knew that Covid-19 would come along and change the way we buy food?

I used to love spending hours walking the aisles of grocery and speciality food stores and farmers markets, searching for the freshest produce and new ingredients to try. Now most of my food shopping is done online with a few clicks. I feel removed from the tactile and sensual process of seeing, touching, and personally picking out what goes into my mouth and nourishes my body.

I miss grocery shopping like it was January 2020. But that’s OK. Things have changed. Life has changed. It’s anyone’s guess what will unfold next. I am grateful every time the delivery company brings our weekly produce box. It’s always a bit of a surprise. What squash will I get? When will the avocados ripen? You never know, so I am learning to relax into the mystery.

While this has been a good practice overall for my life and even for day-to-day cooking, having to be more creative without being able to run to the store for “just one more thing”, it’s been more challenging for our vegan pizza creations.

I am thrilled now when I find a recipe that calls for ingredients I have on hand. I was wondering what to make this week and remembered a favorite pizza from when I lived on Maui. The cheese-free, vegan Freedom Pizza with nutritional yeast from VegOut in Haiku.

Freedom Pizza from VegOut in Haik’u, Maui

The Freedom Pizza is a mix of tomato, onion, peppers, garlic, mushroom, zucchini and nutritional yeast. VegOut adds tofu, but I have an aversion to the texture of tofu so I leave it off. I sadly did not have zucchini, so I substituted broccoli instead. (both green!)

To make this even simpler, I used a store bought pizza crust and jarred marinara. I have grown to really enjoy making our own crust. But, even with the fancy new rolling pin my partner bought for this project, we still cannot roll it out that thin. We also like making our own sauce, starting with canned marzano tomatoes, but we’ll save that post for June.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced and lightly salted
  • 1/2 red or green pepper, sliced into bite size pieces
  • 5 white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 zucchini or 3/4 cup of broccoli florets, chopped into bite size pieces
  • Olive or avocado oil for frying veggies
  • salt and pepper, red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • Pizza crust- store bought or homemade, chef’s choice
  • Marinara sauce- store bought or homemade, chef’s choice

Simple Freedom Pizza Recipe

  1. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Heat frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes while chopping veggies.
  3. Add glug of oil to the pan. Add onions, stir to coat in oil. Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes until onions become translucent.
  4. Add garlic. Stir. Give it 30 seconds for these two old friends to meet and their flavors to co-mingle.
  5. Add the mushrooms, peppers, zucchini or broccoli. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine in the pan. Stir every 15 seconds or so for about 5 minutes, until all veggies are heated through.
  6. Optional– While the veggies are cooking, you can put the pizza crust into the oven for 2 minutes. I have found that pizzas with a lot of veggies taste crispier in the middle if I take the time to do this optional step.
  7. Spread about 1/2 cup of marinara sauce over the crust. (If you do pre-heat it for 2 minutes, give your pizza a few minutes to cool down before spreading on the marinara and adding the veggies.)
  8. Top with slices of tomatoes. Layer with the veggie stir fry.
  9. Bake for 8-10 minutes if using prepared thin crust. Bake for 13-15 minutes if using homemade, medium thickness crust.
  10. Let the pizza cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Sprinkle with a generous amount of nutritional yeast. This gives the pizza an umami taste, which rounds out the flavors of this dish.
Freedom Pizza with Nutritional Yeast

We loved this pizza, not only because it reminds me of being on Maui. It’s also super healthy and loaded with veggies. This is easy to adapt to veggies you have on hand. What makes it a Freedom Pizza is being vegan, free of cheese, and relying on nutritional yeast for added flavor.

If you make this pizza, we’d love to know. You could also go to Maui and try the original. Maui’s vegan food scene is underrated. I think they have some of the best veg food in the USA. Below are some photos from 2011-2012 when I was blessed to call Mother Maui my home.

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Week 17: Green is Good

Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.

Pedro Calderon de la Barca
Kale pesto pizza with tomatoes, squash, and garlic

When shelter-in-place began we put our names on a waitlist for a local produce delivery service. This week we got our first box of Imperfect Produce. Inspired by our bounty, we decided to make a kale pesto thin crust pizza with squash and tomatoes. The delivery company even offered pre-made pizza crust.

This pesto recipe is super easy to make and full of healthy fats. I used an avocado for added creaminess and reduced the amount of oil and nuts typically found in vegan pesto recipes. We’ve made three pesto recipes so far and this one is by far our favorite.

If you have a nut allergy, you can simply omit the walnuts or add 1/8-1/4 cup additional oil.

Ingredients for Avocado, Kale, Nut pesto

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 cups kale
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (almonds, pecans, and cashews taste great too)
  • 1/4 cup avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste
kale, avocado, walnut pesto

Instructions

  1. Tear kale off stalks. Wash thoroughly and dry it in a salad spinner or thoroughly dry on a paper towel.
  2. To the base of a food processor, add avocado, garlic, hemp seeds, walnuts, and lemon juice.
  3. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pulse a few times until the mix starts to combine. Scrape down the sides.
  5. While the food processor is on low speed, drizzle the olive oil in through the top of the machine.
  6. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired.

Toppings

One of the great things about pizza is that it is very forgiving. It’s a great way to use whatever veggies you have on hand. I always try to “eat the rainbow” and have a variety of colors on my plate.

For this recipe, I pan fried some chopped onions in a little avocado oil for about 3 minutes, then added garlic, thinly sliced squash, and diced red bell peppers. You can use whatever veggies you prefer. Keep in mind the kale pesto adds a nutty, earthy flavor and the avocado gives it a creaminess.

The photo above shows the actual amount of each vegetable I used. You don’t need a lot of veggies to cover a pizza, though certainly if you are trying to increase your veg intake, pizza is a great way to do so!

baked kale pesto pizza with veggies

Assemble & Bake

Preheat your oven to 425°.

  1. For a crispier crust, while you make the veggie stir fry, put the crust in the oven, directly on the oven rack, for 2 minutes.
  2. Allow the crust to cool a few minutes before slathering with pesto.
  3. Layer with sliced tomatoes seasoned with a dash of salt to bring out additional flavor.
  4. Layer with pan fried veggies.
  5. Your bake time will depend on your crust. For this thin, store bought crust, we baked it an additional 8 minutes and it was perfect. Bake longer for thicker crusts.
Kale pesto pizza with veggies, baked to perfection

We loved this pizza and hope you do too. If you make it, let us know. As the Italians say “alla vostra salute,” to your health. I hope you and your loved ones are doing well both physically and mentally during shelter-in-place and I hope you are eating well too.

Until next week…

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Week 16: Bud of a Thistle

Okey dokey artichokey.

~ Graunya Holsen
Spinach, artichoke, and onions with white bean puree

When I first moved to California, I lived at a retreat center in Watsonville. It’s a short drive to the very cool beach town of Santa Cruz and near a large farming community that stretches south and east. Garlic, avocados, and artichokes are among the most popular crops grown in this region. I could live on these foods alone.

When my partner and I visited Rome two years ago we made a point of going to the Jewish quarter specifically to taste carciofi alla giudea– fried artichokes. We didn’t get a chance to sample them though because we had too much gelato and pizza along the way. We were also there in October and artichokes are best from February to May.

Returning to Italy for fried artichokes, delicate truffle pasta, and perfect pizza marinara is high on our travel wish list post-quarantine. In the meantime, we decided to bring a little taste of the Mediterranean home inspired by this recipe from Vegan Heaven for artichoke spinach pizza.

One thing I love about this recipe is that the base layer is made from white beans, which are high in protein. It’s also got a few cups of spinach, so Popeye would be proud.

Since the shelter-in-place order we have been limiting our grocery shopping trips to once every 7-10 days to minimize possible exposure to the Covid-19 virus. Baking has blossomed all over the country and flour has been hard to find.

During our last shopping trip the flour aisle looked empty, but when all the other shoppers moved their carts, I noticed this single bag of organic all-purpose flour just waiting for me in the back of the bottom shelf where no one else bothered to look.

I was thrilled to have flour again and made this simple 15 minute pizza dough recipe for our weekly pizza. If you have the time, give the dough a 30-60 minute rest to develop more flavor.

spinach, garlic, and onions

Spinach, garlic, and onions are a great start to many meals and have been easy to come by during the pandemic. I buy bagged, pre-washed spinach that I wash again in my salad spinner.

Canned artichokes have also been available in my area in abundant supply. I buy ones that are pre-cut into quarters and canned in their own juice (or water), not oil. It’s a good idea to drain them on a paper towel, otherwise they can make your pizza soggy.

artichokes draining on a paper towel

I made this recipe twice. The first time I had a half cup of leftover cashew, nut yeast, lemon juice and water mix from another recipe. I was glad to be able to use it to both flavor the beans and add additional creaminess.

The second time I made this recipe I was in a hurry and skipped the cashews altogether. The final result still tasted really good.

For some people, omitting the cashews is a better option. Combining two types of protein—beans and nuts—in the same dish does not work for everyone’s digestion. So, if you don’t happen to have cashews in your cabinet, you can still make this recipe and it will taste good.

Always wash your beans

Ingredients to Make 1 Medium Pizza

Bean puree

  • 1/2 can white beans
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • scant 1/4 cup water- adjust as needed for your blender

    Toppings
  • glug of olive oil
  • 1/3 of an onion, diced
  • 3 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 can artichoke <3, drained
  • pinch salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

    optional: vegan mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°.
  2. Boil some water and soak your cashews in hot water for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse and drain the canned white beans.
  4. Add all the bean purée ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Heat a glug of olive or avocado oil in a frying pan and sautée the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic.
  6. Add the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

At this point you have two options. I tried them both and they both work.

Option 1, as written in the original recipe: Plop your bean mixture from your blender into the pan. Stir and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread evenly on the pizza, dot the pizza with artichoke hearts.

Option 2: Season both the bean mix and the veggies with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Spread the bean mix onto the prepared crust. Top with vegan mozzarella cheese, if desired, and then the veggies and artichoke hearts.

I preferred option 2 because it had a more classic crust, sauce, cheese, vegetable hierarchy. But adding the beans to the veggies works too. Neither method is easier to clean up, so it’s really up to you.

I made option 1 without cheese and option 2 with the last of our Violife mozzarella. There’s enough flavor from the beans, nut yeast, and artichokes that I don’t think you’ll miss the cheese if you don’t have any or want to cut your calorie count.

Option 1 spinach, artichoke, bean pizza, just before baking

My partner and I both really liked the flavor of this pizza. He’s never had spinach artichoke dip before! It’s been years since I’ve whipped one up for a potluck. I haven’t made it for years because the classic recipe uses both cream cheese and sour cream, which is calorie rich. It’s also really good.

This pizza recipe strikes a balance between incorporating the flavors of the traditional dip with far less calories. It also has the added bonus of protein, so it feels like a hearty meal.

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Week 15: Something (Almost) Blue

Culinary tradition is not always based on fact. Sometimes it’s based on history, on habits that come out of a time when kitchens were fueled by charcoal.

– Alton Brown
Activated Charcoal Pizza with Vegan Parmesan Slices

We started this blog because we love Italian food, especially pizza. A few weeks before the start of this year, I picked up a pre-made corn crust pizza dough in the grocery store. One night after work, I topped it with a marinara sauce from a jar and a high quality vegan mozzarella. It was so good that my partner and I made a vow before eating our last bite that we would make a pizza a week in 2020. Thus, our blog was born.

I’ve always struggled with keeping my New Year’s resolutions. Typically by spring I tell myself I didn’t really want to do the thing anyway and let myself off the hook. Not this time! We are 15 weeks into this challenge and still excited to keep trying new things.

Unfortunately, it’s been really challenging to find flour in our local grocery stores or online. Sheltering-in-place has inspired a new generation of home cooks. Everyone’s baking bread.

Since flour has been hard to come by, I started looking for flour-free pizza doughs. I found this recipe for Charcoal Quinoa Pizza from Nest and Glow and decided to give it a try.

Last summer I had the great fortune to spend almost a month in Paris, living in my friend’s apartment before she sold it. Her flat is in the Republic, which has become the ultra hip foodie neighborhood. Almost everyday I walked two blocks to the fabulous Boulangerie Utopie for this little piece of sweet heaven.

It’s called a roule sesame, a round sesame pastry. It is so good, I waited in an unusually long line the morning of my departure to purchase two and bring them home in my bag to share with my partner.

a roule sesame pastry from Boulangerie Utopie in Paris

The dark color comes from activated charcoal, made from ground coconut shells. I first discovered this ingredient by purchasing a detox lemonade, which I picked up en route to the beach one day. I just wanted something packaged in glass, not plastic.

I liked the lemonade and noticed there were just 3 ingredients- lemon juice, stevia, and activated charcoal, plus water. I was paying $6.99 for one lemonade, which seemed really high.

I found that I could buy small amounts of activated charcoal inexpensively in the bulk spice aisle at my local health food store and make my own. I made this drink almost weekly for about 2 years, then my mom encouraged me to do some research into the effects of long-term use.

Activated charcoal is often marketed as a detox product because it binds to toxins in the body and flushes them away. For some, this may be just what you need, but it can also flush away your vitamins and minerals. This article from Eater magazine has some useful info to help you decide if it’s right for you.

You can absolutely make this quinoa crust recipe withouth the charcoal. It may even look more appetizing!

backside of our quinoa pizza after baking

I love that the recipe below is so uniform and easy to follow. It’s a strange recipe! You blend the ingredients and get a black, liquidy soup. You think it won’t work out, that it can’t possibly become a pizza. But, have faith. It works!

Odd? Yes! But packed with protein and flour-free.

Ingredients- Charcoal Quinoa Pizza Base

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon activated charcoal
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°.
  2. Rinse the quinoa in running water for at least 1 minute, then soak it in clean water for between 15 minutes and one hour.
  3. Rinse the quinoa again at the end of soaking and discard the water.
  4. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Line an 8 inch pan with parchment paper. (This is very important, do not skip this step!) Pour the quinoa mix into the lined pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before taking it out of the pan.

You now have baked a quinoa pizza base. Congrats!

The Nest and Glow website has a recipe for cashew cheese. I tried it but it didn’t work for me. I think I added too much water. I have yet to find a reliable vegan cheese recipe. If you have a favorite one, please let me know.

quinoa dough with marinara and vegan parmesan

Since the crust is so unusual, I decided to play it safe with the toppings. I opened a jar of marinara sauce I know I like and topped it with slices of Violife vegan parmesan cheese.

I baked it for 10 minutes at 375°. I wasn’t sure if we would like it, so I also whipped up some pasta with cauliflower alfredo sauce. The quinoa pizza was surprisingly good and very filling.

Given the flour shortage, we may be making this again.

In case you’re thinking of visiting Paris when the pandemic is over, here are some shots from last summer to get you dreaming…