Pizza is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.Confucius (translation inexact)
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.
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.
- 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
- Heat oven to 425°.
- Heat frying pan over medium heat for 5 minutes while chopping veggies.
- Add glug of oil to the pan. Add onions, stir to coat in oil. Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes until onions become translucent.
- Add garlic. Stir. Give it 30 seconds for these two old friends to meet and their flavors to co-mingle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Top with slices of tomatoes. Layer with the veggie stir fry.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes if using prepared thin crust. Bake for 13-15 minutes if using homemade, medium thickness crust.
- 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.
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.