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

  • 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


  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.

Published by 52veganpizzas

We're a couple living in the Bay Area who are committed to a pie a week in 2020. Join us!

4 thoughts on “Week 16: Bud of a Thistle

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