Week 43: Comfort Food

Food is the most primitive form of comfort.

Sheilah Graham Westbrook

As we wind down our year of vegan pizza making, I am gravitating towards making my favorite pizzas again. December 5th was national comfort food day and I thought that deserved celebration (especially during this crazy year!). This pizza combines many of my favorite flavors and toppings–creamy spinach topped with vegan mozzarella, sweet corn, and cherry tomatoes with garbanzo beans for added protein.

I love the combination of colors–the bright green, yellow, and red–and the delicious taste. The dough is a combination of whole wheat, all-purpose, and semolina flours. It’s taken me ten months of my pizza making journey to discover that this is my favorite dough.

If you are looking for a quick and easy dough recipe, I’ve shared mine with you below.

Quick and Easy Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 packet yeast (active dry or instant both work)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar or agave (honey works well too)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2.5 cups of flour or 250 grams if weighing on a scale
  • optional dried herbs and spices

Notes: My favorite flour blend is 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all purpose or bread flour and 1/2 cup of semolina flour. The whole wheat adds a nutty taste, the semolina adds a slight cruncy, the bread flour (or all purpose or pizza flour) is more traditional white flour.

If you have a kitchen scale, weigh your flour. There are two benefits to doing this. First, you will get a more accurate measurement and have more consistent results. Second, you can place your bowl of wet ingredients on the scale, tare the scale to 0 and add the flour, thus reducing clean up (no cups to clean). You can buy an scale for $10 on Amazon. It’s my favorite kitchen gadget.

I often add herbs and spices to my dough. You could add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of either oregano (smells amazing while it cooks), basil, or parsley. This is optional, but it’s a nice way to add flavor to the dough.

Instructions

  1. Pour packet of yeast into a large bowl.
  2. Add your sweetener. If using sugar, sprinkle it into the bowl. If using agave or honey, dissolve it in the warm water first.
  3. Add water to bowl and give a gentle stir. Water should be warm, but not too hot, about 100-110°, not hotter or you will kill the yeast.
  4. Wait 5 minutes for the yeast to bloom.
  5. Add salt and olive oil and stir.
  6. If using herbs or spices, add them now.
  7. Add 2 cups of the flour and stir with the handle of a wooden spoon. Add up to another 1/2 cup of flour to bring the dough together into a nice consistency where you can handle the dough without it sticking to your fingers, but it is still tacky.
  8. Knead for 4 minutes until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball.
  9. Lightly oil a bowl double the size of your dough. Place dough in the bowl, then flip to cover both sides of the dough. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp towel and place in a warm place for at least 15 minutes. If you can let the dough rise for 30-60 minutes, great, but I have made this recipe a few dozen times and only had 15 to let it rise.

When it comes time to use your dough, my favorite method is to roll it out with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment paper. I then remove the top sheet of parchment paper and slide the dressed pizza into the oven on the parchment paper underneath. Many purists would balk at the idea of rolling the dough, so certainly try out other methods if you see one you fancy. I’d love to be able to toss it into the air and have it come out even, but, alas, that is not one of my talents.

Pesto Ingredients

  • large handful spinach
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 medium size red onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 4 oz. vegan cream cheese

Notes: I buy bagged spinach that has already been washed. I’ve tried frozen spinach but have had better results with fresh. You can also use kale or basil or a mix of both. Just make sure whatever leaves you use are washed and dried first.

Miso adds a hearty umami flavor to the pesto. To me, it makes this pesto sing. If you don’t have any or don’t want to use it, no problem. It’s your pizza! If you have vegetable stock, that will add an extra layer of flavor. Water works fine too.

You can make extra pesto or make it a day ahead and store it in the fridge in an airtight container for 2 days.

Instructions

  1. Place spinach in bowl of food processor and pulse a few times to cut up the leaves.
  2. Add garlie, onion, and vegetable stock and pulse a few more times.
  3. Add the vegan cream cheese and run food processor on low until mixture is combined.

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and lightly sprinkled with sea salt
  • 1/4 cup frozen spinach, placed in hot water for a few minutes, then drained
  • handful vegan mozzarella, shredded

Note: You can use any toppings you like. With this pizza, I wanted to combine the earthy flavor of pesto with melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella, something for protein (garbanzo beans), and a few veggies. Corn adds a nice sweetness and tomatoes go well on almost any pizza.

Assembly

  1. Heat oven to 425° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza to ensure your oven is hot.
  2. Prepare your dough.
  3. Slather on a generous amount of pesto.
  4. Top with mozzarella. (Note that in the photos above I sprinkled on some nutritional yeast for added flavor. You can also add nut yeast to your pesto mix.)
  5. Top with beans and veggies.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until the edges are browned and you smell your pizza.
  7. Cool, slice, serve, and enjoy! Vegan comfort food at its best.

If you make this or any other vegan pizza, we’d love to know @52veganpizzas. Wishing you a week of comfort (in life as well as in food!).

Published by 52veganpizzas

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

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