Week 48: Pesto, Tempeh Bacon, and Shaved Brussel Sprouts Vegan Pizza

A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.

P.J. O’Rourke

During the pandemic, we read about a new vegan brewpub that opened in San Francisco called Above Ground. Though we haven’t yet ventured beyond our Covid pod to go out to eat, we are doing our best to recreate the same flavors at home. One pizza on their menu sounded especially delicious, so I decided to create my own version.

As a younger person I would have avoided any dish with brussel sprouts, but now they are one of my favorite vegetables. I don’t make them often, but, when well cooked, I really like them. The idea of “shaving” brussel sprouts sounded a bit daunting, but I decided to give it a go.

This is a healthy, delicious, green pizza, with tempeh and vegan cheese added for flavor, texture, and protein. I hope you enjoy it.

The base of this pizza is kale pesto. If you are lucky enough to have fresh basil or spinach, using a mix of half basil and half leaves gives a nice flavor boost. I used dino kale because it’s super healthy and when I can sneak in veggies, I do.

To prepare the kale, wash it thoroughly, then remove the leaves from the stem. You can tear them off the stem into about 4 pieces on each side of the leaves. Rub the kale in your hands for about 1 minutes. This is called “massaging” your kale. It sounds silly, but taking this extra step helps the kale breakdown better and may make it easier to digest.

Kale Pesto Ingredients

  • bunch of kale
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup nuts- walnuts, almonds, and cashews all work nicely
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Kale Pesto Instructions

  1. In a Food Processor fitted with the “S” blade, pulse the kale a few times.
  2. Add the garlic, lemon juice, nut yeast, sea salt, and pepper. Pulse a few times.
  3. Add the nuts. Pulse a few times. Scrape down the sides, do not pulse again.
  4. With the machine running on low, drizzle in the olive oil. This will not take long and you do not want to overmix your pesto. Pour your olive oil into the top of the machine in a steady stream and it should mix perfectly.
  5. Set the pesto aside while you prepare the other toppings. You can refrigerate any leftover pesto and have it the next day. I find it does not last more than 1 day and is best the day it is prepared.

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian soy product made from fermented soybeans. That may not sound yummy, but give it a chance. Personally I stay away from fake meat products and I have only recently started to experiment with tofu. Tempeh is another way of preparing soybeans, using a fermentation process that binds the soybeans into a solid block. Again, that doesn’t sound so yummy, but I promise, it is!

Tempeh will take on the flavors of whatever you cook it with. I often slice off a few pieces and pan fry it 2 minutes on each side, in a non-stick pan with no oil. I top serve it with a generous amount of vegan mayo whipped with a teaspoon of sweet white miso paste. That is a super simple, quick, 5 minute snack.

For today’s pizza, I decided to go a bit fancier and marinate the tempeh. If you have an hour, you can marinate it that long, but 10 minutes is fine too.

Tempeh Bacon Ingredients

  • 1/3 of a block of tempeh, cut into strips, then into thirds, so they are bite size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons coconut or soy aminos
  • 1/2 tablespoon sriracha sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed or 1 inch of fresh ginger, diced small
  • 2 drops of liquid smoke

Tempeh Bacon Instructions

  1. Add all the liquid ingredients to a shallow bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Place the tempeh pieces into the bowl in a single layer. Coat them on both sides then let sit on each side for at least 5 minutes, up to 30 minutes on each side, if you have that much time to spare.

Note: The tempeh will soak up most of the liquid in the bowl. If you notice the bowl is dry, it’s easy to whip up some additional liquid mix or just add more coconut aminos to the bowl.

You can put the marinated tempeh pieces directly onto your pizza and cook them in the oven or what I like to do is pan fry them in an eco-friendly non-stick pan for about 2 minutes on each side. You can use a light mist of olive or avocado oil in the pan or fry them without any oil. I do both and don’t have a strong preference for one preparation over the other.

Once you have your pesto and tempeh prepared, you are almost ready to assemble your pizza. If you don’t have brussels sprouts or capers, you can use other toppings. Half the fun of making a pizza is experimenting with new flavor combinations.

Other Ingredients and Toppings

  • dough of choice
  • 4 brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup vegan mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon of capers, drained on a paper towel
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Roll out your dough.
  3. Top with a generous amount of pesto.
  4. Sprinkle on vegan mozzarella.
  5. Dot with tempeh squares.
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes.
  7. While your pizza is baking, make the shaved brussels sprouts and fried capers. If these two items bake in the oven, they are likely to burn.
  8. To prepare the brussels sprouts, put them in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Remove and cut the ends off. Cut them in half and lay the flat side down on your cutting board. Cut into strips, cutting each half about 3 or 4 times, depending on the size of the sprout.
  9. Add a glug of oil into your frying pan. Tear open the brussels sprouts and let the pieces fall into the frying pan. Stir to coat with oil.
  10. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add the capers, ensuring they get a light coating of oil.
  12. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes, then take the pan off the heat.
  13. When your pizza is done baking, take it out of the oven and put it on a bakers cooling rack. Top with the brussels sprouts and capers mixture.
  14. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

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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