About a week and a half into our vegan adventures, there have definitely been some ups and downs along the journey. The downs included buying Lactose-Free cheese thinking that meant it was vegan (lesson learned: it does NOT), and trying to avoid white chocolate birthday cake at the office (very tough).
The ups include this:
Vegan Pizza. Yes, this means it has neither meat NOR cheese. Some might say this is a pizza crime. These people clearly have not tried this pizza.
While it is both dairy and meat free, this pizza does not lack in flavor. The crunch of the crust combined with the tangy tomato sauce, punchy pesto, and topped with sautéed veggies makes every bite as good as the last. You’ll barely even miss the gooey cheese on top, because you’ll be so distracted with how GOOD this pizza tastes.
After the mishap with the Lactose-Free cheese, I’ll admit, I’m a bit intimidated to try vegan cheese. So I wanted to create a pizza that was completely cheese-free (if you’ve seen my post on French Mac and Cheese, you’ll know this quite a feat), but a pizza with just red sauce and veggies seemed a bit boring to me.
Enter fresh pesto.
Like many before me, I’ve discovered the amazing quality of making fresh pesto at home. It takes all of two minutes maximum to make, and it tastes fresher and better than any store-bought pesto I’ve ever tried. I’ll never go back.
To make fresh pesto, you’ll need a food processor (you can also use a blender), a bunch of fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, quality olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt. Combine all ingredients in your food processor and blend away!
Just LOOK at how beautiful that color is. I cannot get over it.
Now let’s get back to the pizza. To make Vegan Pizza, you’ll need a few things: a pizza peel, pizza stone, pastry brush and a rolling pin. I also like to make my own pizza dough (recipe here), as I think it tastes fresher, and I know it is better for me than what I can get at the store. Making your own pizza dough might sound daunting, but I assure you, it is nearly as easy as making pesto. It does take time for the dough to rise, though, so I recommend making it on a weekend.
However, you can actually make this recipe without any of the above: use a cookie sheet to cook the pizza on, a spatula instead of a peel, a wine bottle to roll out your dough, and Pillsbury makes a refrigerated pizza dough that you can simply roll out and bake.
Whatever dough you choose to use, you’ll want to roll it out flat with your rolling pin. Toss a bit of flour on your counter or pizza peel and roll away. Don’t stress on making your dough perfectly round or symmetrical – I think an imperfectly shaped pizza looks more homemade.
Preheat your oven to 500F, then lightly brush the dough with good olive oil on your pizza peel. If you’re using a pizza stone, put it in the oven while the oven preheats, as you’ll want it to be nice and hot. This helps the pizza cook evenly. When the oven is pre-heated, slide the dough from the peel onto the hot pizza stone, and bake for 2-3 minutes.
While the dough is baking, start sauté-ing your veggies. I chose to put tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, and spinach on top, but you could do any veggies you desire.
Take the pizza + stone out of the oven, and begin assembling your pizza. Start by spreading the tomato sauce, then swirl the pesto on top.
Put your fully topped pizza back in the oven for about 6-8 minutes, and it will come out looking like this:
Delicious. Grab yourself a slice and dig in!
Perfect (Vegan) Pesto
(adapted from Veg Web)
– 3 cups fresh basil leaves (if you can find living basil at your grocery store, it is the BEST!)
– 6 tbsp pine nuts
– 4 cloves garlic
– 1/2 tsp course sea salt
– 6 tbsp good olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until finely chopped.
– 1 ball of homemade pizza dough (or one can of Pillsbury pizza crust)
– 1/2 can of pizza sauce (I like Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce, but I’ve also heard Trader Joe’s has some great sauce!)
– 4 tbsp homemade or store-bought pesto
– 2 cups veggies, sautéed (or more!)
– 2 tbsp good olive oil
– Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 500F, with pizza stone in the oven. Roll out pizza dough on peel (that has been sprinkled with flour), and brush dough with olive oil. Use a long spatula to slide dough on pizza stone in the oven, and bake for 2-3 minutes.
While the dough is in the oven, sauté your veggies with a bit of olive oil on the stove.
When the dough is done, take the dough and stone out of the oven, and begin assembling your pizza. Start spreading the tomato sauce, and swirl pesto in on top. Next, layer your veggies on top, and pop the pizza back in the oven (still on the stone). Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and veggies are browning on top.
Let cool for a few minutes, then slice and enjoy!
Tools you’ll need: food processor, a pizza peel, pizza stone, pastry brush and a rolling pin. BUT if you don’t have these tools, you can use the following instead: a blender, cookie sheet, spatula, and a wine bottle (don’t forget to peel off the label!).