Week 40: Spinach Artichoke Yumminess

Popeye was right about spinach: dark green, leafy vegetables are the healthiest food on the planet. As whole foods go, they offer the most nutrition per calorie.

Michael Greger

The last time I had spinach artichoke dip, was about a dozen years ago. I made it to take to a friend’s holiday party. I wanted it to be really special. I researched recipes and bought the ingredients, excited to share this dish with friend. It was the hit of the party. People gathered around with blue corn chips and slices of toasted French bread, ready to dip in.

I’ve seen recipes for vegan spinach artichoke dip and pizzas and thought a marriage of the two would be a yummy dish. Wow. This is heaven on a plate. Rich, creamy, flavorful, and also healthy, with fresh and frozen spinach, artichokes, garlic and onions, and spices. I thought of making it a deep dish pizza, but reconsidered and made it a flat crust.

For the dough, I used this recipe for cornmeal olive oil dough. I made it two days in advance and let the dough rest in the fridge. It’s a wet dough, perfect for deep dish decadence. With a little flour to coat it, it worked well for this pizza. The dough is pillowy and flavorful, a bit like focaccia.

This is a very adaptable recipe. You can use fresh or frozen spinach. I had some frozen spinach in the fridge, so I thawed it in a bowl of warm water, picked out the stems, and squeezed the life out of it! You want your spinach to be dry. Wet spinach, especially frozen and thawed, is slimy. No one likes slimy spinach, especially Popeye!

I used 1/3 frozen spinach and 2/3 fresh. I like fresh better so I doubt I will buy frozen again, as it’s failed in every recipe so far. I used both fresh garlic and garlic powder. I sprinkled in some nutritional yeast and also used miso. Both noosh and miso add umami flavor, which gives food an earthy taste. If you have either or both of these ingredients, use them. If you don’t you can use other spices to pepper your dip (pun intended!).

Final dishes are a reflection of the ingredients you use. Find a vegan cream cheese, mayo, and cheese that you like and use those. I love Violife and Kite Hill cream cheeses, Follow Your Heart Vegenaise, and Violife or Miyoko’s vegan cheeses, especially the hard Violife parmesan, which I used in this recipe. It’s a matter of personal taste, so find what works for your palate and budget. If you are up for it, you can make your own.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups spinach, fresh or frozen
  • 1 small jar artichoke hearts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 4 ounces vegan cream cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • vegan parmesan (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Add miso paste and garlic powder to the vegan mayo. Set aside.
  3. Heat a glug of olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add artichoke hearts and spinach. Stir to combine.
  5. Add salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.
  6. Scoop vegan mayo mix into the pan. Stir to combine.
  7. Add vegan cream cheese. I tore off bits and placed them in the pan, as you can see in the photo.
  8. Remove from heat.
  9. Roll out your dough. Bake dough for 3 minutes. Open and close oven door quickly so you don’t lose more heat than you need to.
  10. After a 3 minute “blind bake,” remove crust from oven and spread mixture over the top, leaving a 1 inch rim all around the pizza.
  11. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the crust and your oven. When you smell it, it’s done.
  12. If you are using a brick of hard vegan parmesan, slice about 15 small strips off the block and place them on top of the pizza immediately after it comes out of the oven. It will melt right in!
  13. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
  14. Enjoy! This is a filling pizza. It would be great with beer!

Week 39: Oh Sweetie

Those pizzas I ate were for medicinal purposes.

Amy Neftzger
Gluten-free sweet potato crust pizzaWe

On vacation in Mexico two years ago, which seems like ages ago now! I had a sweet potato crust pizza at Mi Vegano Favorito in San Jose del Cabo. It was everything you want a pizza to be. Tasty crust that’s just the right thickness to hold all the veggie and melted vegan cheese goodness. It was so good that I’m still talking about it and trying to recreate it, two years later.

Back in week 3 when we were just starting out our pizza journey, I tried two different sweet potato crusts. Neither worked well enough to present to you on the blog. I wanted to try one more time before this yearlong pizza journey is through to see if I could find a recipe that works.

I found this recipe on From My Bowl and for the first time my sweet potato crust came out pretty good. I’m grateful it worked because sweet potatoes are a lot healthier than flour, so it’s nice to have the option of a non-flour, gluten-free crust. I didn’t have tapioca flour so used cornstarch instead. I added oregano to the dry mix and otherwise followed the recipe faithfully. I even used my kitchen scale.

I love sweet potatoes. They are high in vitamins A, C, B6, potassium and manganese. They have 4 grams of protein a serving and are almost fat free. Plus, they are very filling. My favorite are the hannah white variety, which is what I used above. Purple sweet potatoes are also fun to use and jazz up the look of your dishes.

As always, you can use any veggies you like. Because this was a dish I first tried in Mexico, I tried to recreate the flavors of that dish by using similar veggies. Here’s the original for some inspiration. I love that this pizza has a rustic crust with a hint of red sauce, light melted cheese, and a mound of healthy veggies. If you visit San Jose del Cabo, you have to try it (and bring me back a slice!).

Ingredients

  • Sweet potato crust (see recipe link above)
  • handful vegan mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 broccoli stem, florets cut into bite size pieces, use the stem if you like, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed in hot water for 10 minutes
  • 5 slices of zucchini or cucumber, diced
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and sprinkled with salt
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • guacamole or avocado to serve

Per instructions on the sweet potato crust recipe, I baked the crust for 10 minutes in a hot oven before putting on any sauce or toppings. It dried it out quite a lot, as you can see from the photo on the far left. Next time I will bake it with a scant amount of sauce or brush it with olive oil first before baking to keep it moist.

As you can see, I use only a small amount of sauce. I used a jarred marinara. Sadly, I threw the rest away. I sometime buy the type of tomato paste that looks like tomato toothpaste just so I don’t end up discarding an almost whole jar of marinara. But, the spices and flavors of marinara are really good, so it’s up to you.

See above that I have put the veggies on before the cheese? That’s because I was waffling on whether or not to use cheese at all. I knew I wanted to serve this with guacamole so thought I might go cheeseless. In the end, I put about 1/2 cup of mozzarella on top and it didn’t quite melt correctly. If you are using cheese, put it on over your sauce and under the veggies.

Instructions

  1. Bake your sweet potato crust for 8-10 minutes in a 425° oven. I recommend you bake it with either a brush of olive oil or 1/2 cup marinara to keep it from drying out.
  2. Remove from oven. Top with cheese first if using, then your veggies. You can pan fry your veggies first. I often do this so that I can toss them with olive or avocado oil and spices. Also, if you are using any hearty veggies like the stalk part of broccoli, they need more time to cook, so then pan frying before baking is the way to go.
  3. Bake for an additional 10-12 minutes. This makes approximately 20 minutes total.
  4. Slice, serve with guacamole (and maybe some margaritas!). Enjoy!

Week 38: Pizza de los Muertos

The dead cannot cry out for pizza. It is a duty of the living to do so for them.

Lois McMaster Bujold (quote loosely translated)

We’re looking forward to celebrating Dia de los Muertos this weekend. Tomorrow is Halloween and a full moon. It’s also the second full moon in the month, so it’s a blue moon too. Normally we would be out celebrating, but with Covid, we are snuggling up at home and cooking, baking, and decorating.

We wanted to bring some of the Day of the Dead festiveness to our pizza blog in preparation for this weekend’s feast. Mexican inspired food is always so good. To make the dough, I used 1/3 “masa harina” and 2/3 bread flour. I would have preferred to use all-purpose flour, but alas, our local stores have again sold out. Next time I will try this recipe that uses whole wheat pastry flour with masa harina.

If you are wondering what masa harina is, it’s dried corn dough used as flour. You add water and salt to it, and sometimes oil, to create tortillas. “Masa harina” translates to masa (dough) harina (flour). I’ve used it with water and salt to make thin tortillas I fry in a pan. I’ve also mixed it with all purpose and whole wheat flours to make more of a doughy consistency, perfect for pizza.

Masa harina is gluten free, so if you are avoiding gluten, this could be a great addition to your pantry.

Ingredients

  • dough of choice, I recommend using part masa harina, but it’s up to you
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • about 10 jalapeño slices
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (I use frozen, placed in hot water to thaw)
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 organic red pepper, diced
  • few broccoli florets
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • handful vegan cheese shredded (I used jack cheese from Violife)
  • 1/3 cup marinara sauce of choice or tomato paste thinned with water, add salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • spices of choice- I used cumin powder and chili powder
  • squeeze of quality sriracha

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Roll out your dough to desired size. I place a ball of dough between two sheets of parchment paper and use a rolling pin. This method works for me.
  3. NOTE: You do not have to heat your veggies in advance, but I typically do so that I can heat them, coat them with a bit of oil, and season veggies in the pan.
  4. Heat a glug of oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. I used avocado oil.
  5. Add onions and stir for 2 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and stir, 30 seconds.
  6. Add peppers, broccoli, corn, and tomatoes. Season with chosen spices and sriracha. Stir and heat for 2 minutes. Take pan off the heat.

Assembly

  1. I roll out my dough and keep it on one piece of parchment paper. This makes it easier to get into and out of a hot oven.
  2. Spoon a thin amount of marinara sauce over your dough.
  3. Sprinkle with vegan cheese.
  4. Top with veggies.
  5. Bake for 12-14 minutes in a hot oven.
  6. Slice, top with avocado or guacamole, and enjoy!
Yum! Pizza to share with you living friends or those you love who have passed over.

We hope you enjoy this pizza. We are looking forward to honoring our loved ones who have passed over this weekend. Dia de los Muertos is a lovely way to celebrate the life of those you love. And if your loved ones loved pizza, why not make some to share?

Week 37: Aloha Spirit

I burned my Hawaiian pizza today. Should’ve cooked it on aloha temperature.

Unknown

I love pineapple on pizza. It adds a tart sweetness that complements melted mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, and jalapeños. To make a vegan pizza true to the ‘Hawaiian’ pizza name, I needed to find something to replace the traditional ham flavor. I found a recipe for bacon flavored coconut flakes and decided to adapt it to flaked almonds to add some protein to this meal.

Over the course of this year, my partner and I have tried at least fifty different pizza variations. Hawaiian is one of my favorites (and not just because I miss living on Maui. There is no actual connection to the islands. Hawaiian pizza was invented by a Greek immigrant to Ontario, Canada. You can read more about the story here.)

To make this pizza unique, I tried a new dough recipe from the book Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated by this book at first. The authors are highly accomplished bakers. I bought a $10 digital kitchen scale to ensure that my measurements are accurate and decided to give one of their recipes a try.

I made the Cornmeal and Olive Oil Dough that the authors initially created for deep-dish pizza. The authors generously share their recipe here. The deep-dish style looks yummy and we plan to try it soon. To use this dough as a regular, flat pizza dough, I needed to add a 1/2 cup of flour and knead it slightly.

Above you can see my preferred method of flattening the pizza disk. I put a ball between two pieces of parchment paper and roll it out with a wooden rolling pin. I’ve worked on my technique so that I can get the pizza very thin. For this pizza, I would recommend a thicker dough. So either don’t roll it out as thin or try the deep-dish style in the link above.

This week’s quote is appropriate because I ‘blind baked’ the pizza, meaning I baked it naked, with no toppings, for 3 minutes before pulling it back out of the oven to top it. For some pizzas, that is the way to go. This week, it wasn’t! Lesson learned. I rolled the crust too thin to blind bake it and the final result was burnt.

For this week’s pizza, I recommend a medium or thicker crust to hold all of the yummy toppings.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • handful cherry tomatoes, halved and lightly salted
  • handful jalapeño slices, patted dry
  • handful shredded vegan mozzarella
  • 1/4 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • cinnamon
  • salt
  • red pepper flakes
  • dough of choice
  • sauce of choice- red sauce, light BBQ sauce, and tomato paste thinned with water and sprinkled with herbs all work well as a base sauce, so adjust to your taste

Optional-Guacamole

  • avocado (optional, if I can add a perfectly ripe avocado, I always do!)
  • splash lime juice and dash salt (optional for avocado/homemade guacamole)

Optional- smoky, bacon flavored almond flakes

  • 1/2 cup flaked almonds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke (this is what gives it a smokey, bacony flavor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch black pepper

Instructions for almond flakes

  1. Heat oven to 350°.
  2. Mix all the liquids and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the almond flakes and toss to coat.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to place flakes on a piece of parchment paper in a single layer.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes so they don’t burn.

Note: Do this at least 30 min before you want to bake your pizza so that your oven can get up to 450° to properly crisp your pizza crust. You can make the almonds a few days in advance and store them in the fridge or freezer.

Instructions

  1. Crank your oven up to 450°.
  2. Drain your pineapple slices, if using from a can. The juice is great in smoothies or can be frozen and used later. Place them on a paper towel to dry them out a bit.
  3. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on your pineapple. This is an optional step, but I have found it’s a nice flavor enhancer for the pineapple.
  4. Roll out your dough. Slather on some sauce. I used a mix of tomato paste and a vegan BBQ sauce that does not have a strong flavor. You can also use straight tomato paste thinned and add some spices, like oregano or dried basil. This pizza is best with a tomato enhanced base flavor.
  5. To give my pizza a boost, I tossed the cherry tomatoes with olive oil and pan fried them for five minutes before layering them on top of the sauce. This is optional, but it does add a nice flavor boost.
  6. Place the pineapple, diced green pepper, and jalapeños around your pizza evenly.
  7. Top with cheese. Feel free to be generous here. Cheese is yummy!
  8. Bake for 11-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your crust.
  9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes then top with the flaked almonds and guacamole.
  10. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Week 36: Pizza My Love

I think of dieting, then I eat pizza.

Lara Stone

This week my partner and I made the pizza together, starting with the dough. Pizza making is a fun date night activity (so is vegan sushi rolling!), so if you are looking for something fun to do with your honey this weekend… you just might end up with a heart shaped pizza.

Right now fresh basil is still available in our local grocery store, but that will be changing soon. While we can still get it, we wanted to make one more basil pesto pizza. This time we added 2 parts basil to one part arugula to create the pesto. We added a few slices of vegan parmesan and our favorite veggies to create a filling meal.

To start, make the pesto. You can make it a day ahead and store it covered in the fridge. I prefer to make it fresh and use any leftovers the next day.

For the leaf mix, you can use all basil or a mix of basil and other leaves. Basil is more expensive than other leaves and using a 2:1 mix of basil to other leaves or even 1:1 works well without diminishing the flavor. Today I used 2 parts basil to one part arugula. I’ve used spinach and dino kale in the past. Both worked well. I probably like kale the best, followed by spinach, then arugula. But, it’s nice to mix it up and use what you have on hand.

For the nuts, you can use cashews, walnuts, or pine nuts. I haven’t tried it with almonds or pecans, but have seen recipes that use these instead. Pine nuts are a classic pesto taste, but have more calories than other nuts.

If you have a ripe avocado, you can add half of it or the whole thing. It adds an extra layer of creaminess and is delicious, as are all things made with avocado. If you do use an avocado and you have avocado oil, you can use that in place of the olive oil, if you prefer.

Pesto Ingredients

  • 2 cups fresh basil, washed and dried
  • 1 cup arugula leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/3 cup raw walnuts
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. Make sure your leaves are thoroughly washed and dried. I use a salad spinner and then dry them on a paper towel. This takes just one extra minute but creates a better pesto texture.
  2. Place leaves in your food processor and pulse a few times.
  3. Add the other ingredients, except the olive oil.
  4. Whizz on low speed to combine. With the machine running on low, drizzle in the olive oil.
  5. Taste the pesto and adjust the flavor to match your preferences. Sometimes I add more nut yeast, sometimes extra garlic, salt, or lemon juice.

Pizza Ingredients

  • Dough of choice~We used 00 flour and made our own. Most store brands are perfectly good if you prefer not to make it. A simple dough takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and is a bit cheaper to make yourself. I hear Trader Joe’s has a good dough if you don’t feel like making it.
  • Pesto~ If using the recipe above, we used 2/3 of it for this pizza and used 1/3 to make a mini pizza the next day.
  • Dozen cherry tomatoes, sliced in half, sprinkled with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • few slices of vegan cheese or small handful shredded cheese~ We used Violife parmesan and I sliced about 5 slices with a vegetable peeler.
  • Handful arugula, washed and dried.

Assembly

  1. Heat your oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  2. Let dough come to room temperature for 2 hours before baking.
  3. Prepare your veggies.
  4. Roll out the dough. You just might get an unexpected heart.
  5. Spread pesto over your dough, leaving a 1 inch crust.
  6. Add slices of cheese.
  7. Top with tomatoes and green peppers or whatever veggies you prefer to use.
  8. Bake for 13-15 minutes until you smell that it’s done.
  9. Let cool for 5 minutes. Slice. Top with arugula. Serve, and enjoy!

Week 35: Cheese Please

That was one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten in my life. The cheese was so good it made me faint.

Elvis Aaron Presley
Vegan Double Cheese Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Corn, and Cucumber

Some of the best pizzas in life start out as something else. This week I had in mind to make a light summer pizza with vegan cream cheese, ripe cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. I did use those ingredients, but made a last minute decision to toss a handful of vegan cheese on the pizza, and wow! The cheese took it to the next level of yumminess.

The pizza above looks decadent, but it actually has only a handful of Violife vegan colby jack cheese. I used about half a cup, which is 150 calories. Split between two people, that’s not a lot of extra calories, but it did make the pizza taste a lot richer. This is one of our favorite pizzas so far this year.

This week I used bread flour to make the dough. I forgot to add olive oil to the mix and it still came out well and was easy to shape. I made a dough with “00” flour earlier in the week and my partner and I both liked the bread flour version better. That could be any number of factors, but since bread flour has more protein than 00 flour, I’d rather use it.

I added a teaspoon of dried oregano to the dough when mixing. I also added a generous teaspoon of garlic honey, which is honey that had garlic sitting in it for a month. Here’s a post with more detailed info if you want to make it. The garlic turns to candy, with no garlicky taste. You can eat the garlic, one a day, and it helps ward off colds.

This week’s pizza has two layers of cheese. There’s a cream cheese layer that gets a flavor boost from a bit of miso paste, and the layer of shredded cheese. The flavors of this pizza combo taste great together, but if you are missing one or two of the ingredients, you can substitute something else.

As always, feel free to use any veggies you have on hand. Next time I make this pizza (and there will definitely be a next time, this one was super good) I would add a few jalapeño slices.

Ingredients

  • pizza dough
  • handful cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels
  • 1/4 medium size white onion, diced
  • 4 oz. vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 to 1 and 1/2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 1/2 cup vegan cheese, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • few slices of cucumber, diced

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 450° for 45 minutes before you plan to bake your pizza.
  2. If you have one, put your pizza stone in the oven to heat up.
  3. Let dough come to room temperature (if refrigerated) for 2 hours prior to baking.
  4. Slice cherry tomatoes and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. If using frozen corn, run hot water over it to bring to room temperature. Set aside.
  6. Add miso paste to cream cheese. Taste and see how much miso tastes good to you.
  7. Heat a frying pan. Over medium-high heat, add a glug of olive or avocado oil.
  8. Add the onions. Stir for 2 minutes.
  9. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  10. Add cucumber slices.
  11. Add corn.
  12. Add tomatoes and stir for 2 minutes.
  13. Take off the heat. Roll out your pizza dough.
  14. Spread cream cheese and miso mixture over your pizza.
  15. Layer with veggies from the pan.
  16. Top with 1/2 cup of vegan shredded cheese.
  17. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crust is golden and you can smell that it’s done.
  18. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
Super yummy, vegan double cheese, tomato, cucumber, corn pizza- Share it with someone you love!

Week 34: Mangia italiano

You try to come up with new ideas, but in the end, people just want to eat Italian food.

Stephen Starr
Vegan Pizza with Cherry Tomatoes, Broccoli, Zucchini, Garlic, Onions, and Vegan Parmesan

I was craving a veggie pizza and wanted to try a crust using Caputo “00” flour. That is the brand and type of flour often recommended in traditional Neapolitan recipes. I also recently got a pizza stone and wanted to see if it would really crisp up the better than my old pan. Yes and yes.

The Caputo flour produces a crust that is reminiscent of the delicious and light pizza we ate in Naples. Our Emile Henry pizza stone does a good job crisping up the bottom of the pizza and cooking it evenly. We considered getting a pizza steel, but they weigh 16 pounds and I don’t have a good place to store it, so we went with the stone. I used it to bake croissants and they burned, so it’s not a good option for all baked goods, but did work well for pizza.

I wanted this to be a light, crispy pizza that highlights the flavor of late summer veggies. Instead of a base sauce, I cut a large handful of cherry tomatoes in half, lightly salted them, and sprayed them with a light coating of olive oil. After a few minutes of frying them in a pan, they soften up and make a nice base layer.

You can use any veggies you have on hand. Broccoli and zucchini are our favorites. I usually use the broccoli stalk, cutting it up into slices and then quartering the slices so they cook through. For the zucchini, I use a vegetable peeler and peel it around the entire vegetable until I reach the seeds. I slice the inner seeded part into rounds and use this part too. The soft inner part will take on the flavors of whatever oils and spices you use but has less flavor on its own.

Ingridents

  • handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half, lightly salted, lightly sprayed with olive oil, pepper to taste
  • broccoli stalk, florets cut small, stalk diced
  • 1/4 sweet white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • zucchini, sliced or peeled
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Vegan parmesan (optional)
  • pizza dough of choice

I have really come to appreciate the Violife line of vegan cheeses. Growing up veggie, there were so few vegan products on the market and cheese was the worst. It was always grainy with weird texture that didn’t melt like real cheese. Now times have changed and vegan cheese has the texture, taste, and meltability of “real” cheese. To me, Violife and Miyoko’s are the best brands.

Instructions

  1. Dough should be at room temperature for 2 hours before handling.
  2. Crank your oven to 450° for 45 minutes before baking your pizza.
  3. Prepare all your veggies so that when you start to cook, everything you need is ready for you.
  4. Heat a pan on medium-high heat. Add a glug of oil.
  5. Fry to onions for 2 minutes, until translucent.
  6. Add the garlic and stir.
  7. Add the diced broccoli stalks. These will take the longest to cook. Stir frequently for 5 minutes.
  8. Add the broccoli. Give it 2 minutes.
  9. Add the zucchini. Give it one minute.
  10. Turn off the heat and let veggies sit in the pan, off the heat, for a minute while you prepare your dough.
  11. Roll out your dough (or toss it if you’re fancy like that!)
  12. Brush dough with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  13. Add slices of parmesan.
  14. Top with veggie mix.
  15. Bake 13-15 minutes, depending on size of pizza and the true temperature of your oven.
  16. Slice, serve, and enjoy!

Week 33: Comfort Food

Sometimes a little comfort food can go a long way.

Benjamin Bratt
Tempeh and Vegetable Pizza on Whole Wheat Crust

Let’s be real. This has been a tough year and sometimes you just need to make some comfort food. As a vegan who eats a primarily pretty healthy diet, you might think I don’t have as many food indulgences, but oh contraire, I have many! For me, switching to a vegan diet opened up a world of tasty food that I’d never experienced before.

Here in California, we had almost 5 weeks of thick blankets of smoke covering almost the entire state. During that time I only went outside once to take out the garbage. We were blessed with 13 days of clear air, then new fires ignited. Once again, we are on day 3 of yellowish haze blanketing our skies.

Unfortunately during the smoke spells, we can’t use our oven (or our window box AC!). But, during the last clear day, I was able to make a quick pizza. I chose one of my favorites, which has become a new comfort food for me–veggie pizza with mozzarella and marinated tempeh. It may sound healthy (and it is) but it’s also gooey, rich, and indulgent too.

A good pizza starts with the crust. For most of this year I have used the same recipe and tried different flour ratios (all-purpose, bread, pizza, 00, spelt, gluten-free, oat, buckwheat, and whole wheat flours), types of oil (olive, avocado, sunflower), sugar (coconut, honey), and salt (Himalayan fine and course, fine and coarse sea salt, and smoked sea salt flakes).

For this week’s dough, I used equal parts all-purpose and whole wheat flours. Next time I would use 2/3 all-purpose and 1/3 whole wheat or spelt flour. The recipe is on the card above or here.

You can use any veggies you like. My “go to” pizza ingredients are garlic, onions, and tomatoes. I think my Italian friends would approve. I love broccoli on pizza, as well as jarred jalapeño slices, kale (yes, kale!), and avocado, which goes on after the pizza is cooked. This week I had some celery left over from making soup stock, so I decided to include it. It adds a nice crunch and texture to the meal.

Recently I’ve found that I love the combination of marinated tempeh and melted mozzarella. There’s just something about the flavor and texture combo that works really well on pizza. Tempeh also adds protein, which is not always easy to do on a vegan pizza.

Ingredients–tempeh marinade

  • tempeh
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut or soy aminos (like Braggs)
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste (I prefer the flavor of white miso paste)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Instructions–tempeh marinade

  1. Slice the tempeh into bite sized pieces. I slice about 1/2 inch thick then cut the strips into halves or thirds. The photo above shows the actual amount I used, which is a little less than 1/2 of a block of store bought tempeh.
  2. Make the marinade. Adjust the amount of aminos, miso paste, and maple syrup to your liking. When I am cooking, the above are a guideline and then I adjust based on flavor and thickness of the marinade.
  3. Place tempeh into the marinade and coat all sides. Let sit for 10 minutes (or longer) while you prepare the vegetables.
  4. When it’s time to cook the tempeh, heat your pan well. I have an eco-friendly pan that has a nontoxic nonstick coating, so I don’t need to use oil to coat the pan. If your pan isn’t nonstick, use a spray of oil.
  5. Place tempeh pieces on the pan in a single layer. Cook 2 minutes on each side. Once done, remove from pan and place on a paper towel on top of a baker’s cooling rack, if you have one. This will keep them from getting soggy.

Topping Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced
  • about 8 jalapeño slices, drained, squeezed of liquid
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half and lightly salted
  • small handful vegan mozzarella
  • 3 stalks kale, derimmed (stalk removed), washed, lightly massaged, then torn or cut into pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • handful broccoli florets, cut small
  • olive or avocado oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Topping Instructions

  1. Using the same pan you used to pan fry the tempeh, heat a glug of olive or avocado oil.
  2. Add onion, stir and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and stir.
  3. Add a dash of sea salt, stir.
  4. Add the broccoli florets and kale, stirring frequently for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes. Let mix cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Vegan mozzarella, marinated tempeh, and vegetable pizza

Assembly

  1. Roll out your dough. Dough should be room temperature for at least two hours before trying to roll it out.
  2. Sprinkle crust with mozzarella.
  3. Add veggie mix directly from the pan, spreading evenly across the pizza, leaving a 1 inch rim around the crust.
  4. Place tempeh pieces evenly around the crust.
  5. Bake in a 450° oven for 14 minutes. (Open time and temperature will depend on your oven’s true temperature, the thickness of the crust, and what you are baking it on.)
  6. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing. Optionally top with ripe avocado. (Everything’s better with ripe avocado!). Enjoy!
Yum!

Week 32: Appreciation

Trade your expectation for appreciation and your world changes instantly.

Tony Robbins
Vegan Veggie and Cheese on Spelt Crust

Here in Northern California, we just went through a month of being inside everyday due to heavy smoke from nearby fires. An entire month of being inside every single day, with no air-conditioning and a summer heatwave. We only went outside once to take out the garbage and quickly grab our mail. It’s been intense.

Three days ago, the winds changed and started to blow the smoke away. Blue skies and birds came back. It’s amazing now to be able to open our windows and to go outside and breathe. Yesterday I went to my favorite hiking spot. I missed it during the past month of extreme indoorness.

Being sealed inside our apartment, we were not able to use our oven. It was also hella hot. Today when I flung open the windows and cranked up the oven, I felt utter appreciation to be able to do so. Cooking is an act of love. This recipe is our gift.

I read recently that to get the maximum health benefits from garlic, you should crush or mince it 15 minutes before you cook it. Reading this has changed the order of my cooking routine. Now I peel and crush the garlic first. Second, I slice the tomatoes and sprinkle them with a little sea salt. Salt helps release more flavor.

Throughout this year, I have been experimenting with different crusts. All-purpose, bread flour, pizza flour, and “00” flour, which is the only flour that can be used in traditional Neapolitan pizzerias, are so far my favorites. These white flours are reliable, easy to use, and absorb water well. I’ve struggled with finding a good gluten-free alternative.

Today I almost made a gluten-free boxed crust, but decided instead to make my own spelt dough from scratch. I was so excited to be able to cook again, I wanted to make the whole thing myself. It’s been a month since I have made a dough and this one did not come out as well as I had hoped. The toppings are some of our favorites though, so we still wanted to share the recipe. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients

  • dough of your choice
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 ripe Roma tomatoes, sliced and sprinkled with a little salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced
  • 1/2 organic green pepper, diced
  • 1/4 medium size red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 stalk broccoli, stem cut away and saved for another recipe, florets cut into bite size pieces
  • handful vegan mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 ripe avocado or guacamole
  • dash lime juice (optional)
  • a few sliced jalapeños from a jar (optional)

Instructions

  1. Crank your oven up to 450° for about 40 minutes before you plan to put your pizza in the oven.
  2. Smash your garlic, set aside.
  3. Slice your tomatoes, set aside.
  4. Cut your green pepper in half. Store half in the fridge and dice the half you plan to use. (Note: peppers are on the “dirty dozen” list so if you can, buy organic. Green peppers are typically cheaper than red, yellow, or orange.)
  5. Roll out your dough between two large pieces of parchment paper sprinkled with flour or semolina flour. You can also add sesame or other seeds to give your crust a little crunch.
  6. Brush the dough with a little olive oil. Using your fingers, spread the garlic over the crust evenly, avoiding the edges.
  7. Add tomatoes, onions, and green pepper. (Note: if your tomatoes are too wet, dry them on a paper towel first.)
  8. Sprinkle a handful of cheese over the veggies.
  9. Layer with broccoli. Add a few jalapeño slices (Note: you may want to dry these on a paper towel too.)
  10. Bake for approximately 15 minutes at 450°.

While your pizza is baking, slice open your avocado. Scoop the flesh into a small bowl and mash it with a fork. Add a dash of lime juice and salt. Mix well. Give your pizza five minutes to cool when it comes out of the oven, then top with freshly made guacamole.

Everything’s better with guacamole.

We hope you enjoy this pizza. Of course feel free to mix it up and use any veggies you prefer. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you are safe, happy, and well fed. If you have a favorite vegan pizza recipe you’d like me to make, let me know @52veganpizzas.

Week 31:Viva la Pizza!

Pizza… It’s what America’s having for dinner!

José N. Harris, author Mi Vida
Vegan Corn Crust Pizza with Kale and Basil Pesto with Ricotta and Cherry Tomatoes

Here in California we are on week 3 of high heat, high winds, and smoky conditions from nearby fires. Most days it’s too smoky to open our windows or use our window box AC unit, so we’ve been sweltering inside, watching plumes of smoke pass by our windows. We had a one day break in the smoke so were able to use our oven. Of course we used this opportunity to make a pizza!

We had a pre-made corn crust in our fridge taunting me for days that I could not use the oven. I love the buttery flavor, texture, and thickness of this corn crust, but you can use any crust you like. Here’s a link to an easy homemade dough. Most grocery stores also carry pre-made dough in either the refrigerator or freezer sections. Some are quite high in sugar or oil. The beauty of making your own is that you can control the ingredients.

I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand and also use as many healthful veggies as possible, while still respecting flavor combinations and not overwhelming the dish. I also wanted to add a little extra protein, so I created a vegan pesto using almond milk ricotta cheese. You can substitute vegan cream cheese instead. Both versions are super yummy.

If you are lucky enough to have fresh basil, feel free to use more basil and less kale or vice versa. I prefer dino kale, but curly kale works too. If using curly kale, massage it a minute before tossing it into your food processor.

Pesto Ingredients

  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 medium size red onion, diced
  • 3-5 stalks of dino kale, rinsed and stems removed
  • handful basil leaves (pictured above, center) rinsed and stems removed
  • 1/2 package vegan ricotta cheese (I used this one from Kite Hill)
  • dash sea salt, dash pepper
  • splash of lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Place kale and basil into the bowl of a food processor with the S-blade attached. Pulse a few times.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and process on low until combined. Swipe the inside of the food processor bowl to ensure all ingredients process together. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, as you prefer. You can add a dash more lemon juice if you want the mixture to be creamier. Don’t overdo it.

You can use any veggies you have on hand to top your pizza. The beauty of pizza is its versatility. Zucchini and cherry tomatoes are one of our favorites.

Pizza Toppings

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • handful cherry tomatoes
  • dash sea salt, sprinkle red pepper flakes

Assembly

  1. I prefer thin slices of zucchini. Using a vegetable peeler, I go around the outside of a washed zucchini and slice off the skin and “meat” of the zucchini until I see mostly seeds. The seeds can be bitter, so I don’t use the inside “core” of the zucchini. I do eat the colorful outer skin. I end up with long slices of zucchini that are too hard to eat, so I slice the thin slices in thirds, so they are more bite size.
  2. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. This releases more flavor from the tomatoes.
  3. Spread a layer of pesto mixture onto your pizza crust. If you are using a thicker crust, as we are with this corn crust, you can make the pesto layer much thicker and your pizza will still bake nicely in the center. If your pizza is thin crust, you may want to use a thinner layer of pesto (and add less lemon so the pesto mix itself is thicker). For thin crust, you may also want to bake it for 1/2 the time with just the pesto mix before adding your toppings.
  4. Adorn with tomatoes (symmetrical pattern of tomato shapes optional). Add zucchini slices or other veggies of choice.
  5. Bake in a hot oven. We put our oven to 425° for 45 minutes before baking our pizza for 13 minutes.
  6. Slice, eat, and enjoy!