Broccoli is incredible. It can prevent DNA damage and metastatic cancer spread; activate defences against pathogens and pollutants; help to prevent lymphoma; boost the enzymes that detox your liver; target breast cancer stem cells; and reduce the risk of prostate cancer progression.Michael Greger
This week, we decided to combine some of our favorite flavors from the year into one delicious pizza. When I was younger, I used to go to TGIFriday’s for dinner on Friday night and order their broccoli cheese soup with garlic breadsticks. It was creamy and delicious, but also high in calories and low in nutrition.
Now as an adult, I recreate many of my favorite dishes in a healthier form that is no less flavorful and satisfying than the original. This pizza uses a cashew nut cheese sauce as the base. It’s topped with three of my favorite pizza toppings–broccoli, mushrooms, and fingerling potatoes.
We opted for a spelt crust, but you can use any crust you like, including store bought. The cashew cheese sauce can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge or you can double the batch and use it to top steamed veggies and rice or quinoa for a next day meal. If you make this pizza, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
First you make the sauce. Once it’s made, the rest of your pizza comes together quickly. Feel free to experiment with different veggies. As you can see from the photo above right, I had originally intended to throw on a few sundried tomatoes. The pizza came out of the oven looking so good as is that I decided against any additions.
Cashew Cheese Sauce
- 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1.5 cups of vegetable stock or water
- Soak cashews in water for 2-4 hours or overnight in a covered container in the fridge. Drain them before use.
- Add all ingredients to a high powered blender (you don’t need a Vitamix here, a standard, good quality blender will do). Blend on medium or high until the cashew pieces are incorporated and you have a liquid mixture.
- Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Pour into a saucepan and heat over medium heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Lower heat to a simmer and simmer for 8-10 minutes, whisking continuously, until the mixture comes together into a cheese sauce.
Note: It’s best to be available to whisk the mixture continuously for the 8-10 minutes needed to take it from a liquid state to a more melted cheese like state. I have, at times, needed to step away from the stove for a minute or two, and it’s still come out OK. Try to make time to do it the original way the first time until you get familiar with making it.
- dough of choice
- 1/2 of cheese sauce mixture above
- 1/2 cup of vegan cheddar cheese, shredded (I used Violife colby jack and it was delicious!)
- 1 stalk of broccoli, cut florets into bite size pieces
- 6 button mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 5 fingerling potatoes, boiled until fork tender, then sliced thin
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Heat oven to 425°.
- Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add a glug of olive oil.
- Add garlic and stir. Add mushrooms and stir to coat with oil. Stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the broccoli and heat another 2-3 minutes.
- Take the mushroom and broccoli mix off the heat by moving to another burner on the stove or if you have the space, put it on a baker’s cooling rack.
- Roll out your dough.
- Cover with cheese sauce.
- Sprinkle with shredded vegan cheese.
- Top with the sliced fingerling potatoes.
- Top with the mushroom, broccoli, garlic mix from the pan.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes.
- Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Note: To boil the fingerling potatoes, wash them well or scrub with a vegetable brush under running water. Put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid. You can leave the lid slightly ajar so some steam escapes. I have done it both ways and don’t notice a huge difference.
Check them after about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the potatoes. When you can stick one with a fork and it easily pierces the potato, they are done. I use a slotted spoon to take them out of the pot and place them on my cutting board. After two minutes, I slice them and lightly coat with olive oil so that they don’t dry out.
It’s not absolutely necessary to pan fry your mushrooms and broccoli before you bake your pizza, but I prefer this method. Pizza places typically put raw veggies on their pizzas, but they also bake in an oven that is up to twice as hot as a home oven. Experiment and see what works for you. If you are short on time, by all means, still make the pizza and skip steps where you can. Pizza is very forgiving and still tastes good.
If you make this or any other vegan pizza, let us know @52veganpizzas. Enjoy!