Whenever people find out that I'm vegan, one of their first questions, without fail, is: "But how can you live without pizza?" The answer is, I don't! I'm from Long Island, for Pete's sake! Vegan pizza can be fantastic and it's one of my favorite things to eat. I really don't make a habit out of eating fake cheese, so the pizzas I create are loaded up with lots of fresh vegetables. Vegan pizza is quite healthy, rather than greasy and fattening.
The best pizza recipe I have found is one from VegWeb, called Amazing Roast Veggie Pizza. This recipe is a bit time consuming, but totally worth it. It includes instructions for making your own crust, which comes out crunchy and flavorful, and so much better than the store-bought stuff. My family has taken the vegetables from this recipe and used a store-bought pizza crust, and the results were still pretty good, but I definitely prefer the homemade crust. Now that I have made this pizza several times, it takes me about two hours total. Vegans and non-vegans alike who have tried this pizza agree that it really is "amazing." Here is the recipe, copied directly from the site:
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups water (more if needed)
3 tablespoons olive oil
olive oil for roasting
1 red bell pepper
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1/2 small onion
4 cloves garlic (or more)
1 cup pasta sauce
2 handfuls spinach
small jar artichoke hearts
salt, oregano, basil, other herbs to taste
This pizza dough takes a while to make, but isn't too hard, and is SOO worth it. It makes two pizzas which is enough for 2 or 3 people (only 3 if you’re going to have side items). If you’re cooking for just yourself, halving this recipe is very easy.
Mix the flour, sugar, and yeast. Add the salt and incorporate. Add water (make sure it is close to room temperature, or it may kill/retard the yeast). Mix for about 30-60 seconds, but not too much, as it shouldn't be totally smooth. If the dough doesn't feel sticky at all, add 1/2 teaspoons of water and mix very slightly until it does.
Move the dough into a clean bowl and pour the olive oil over it. Flip the dough until it is covered in the oil. Put plastic wrap or a clean towel over the bowl and store it in a warm (not hot) place until it doubles in volume. This will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour 15.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Halve the bell pepper and remove the seeds and core. Chop each half into three or four strips longwise and then in inch-long pieces from there. Halve the zucchini and squash longwise and chop in inch-long pieces as well. Arrange veggies in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and herbs to taste (don't worry about adding too much herbs, they are super tasty). Toss and place in oven. Bake 10-15 minutes and then flip, then bake another 8-12 minutes until tender and brown on the edges.
After the dough has risen, using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut it in half and work each piece lightly in your hands, shaping the dough into a flattened ball. Place each on a separate pizza dish or sheet pan, drizzle remaining olive oil over both and cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes.
Leave the plastic wrap on and press gently from the inside out to form a pizza crust. If the dough doesn't work well, put it in a warm-hot place (above the oven works well) for about 5 minutes. When the dough has been shaped (depending on how much the dough rose, each pizza should be about 9 - 11 inches), leave it in a warm place covered for 20 minutes or so (This time can be drastically reduced by placing it in a warmer spot). Raise the oven temperature to 475 degrees.
In the meantime, dice the onions and mince the garlic. Sautee both in oil over medium heat, until soft, then add chopped spinach stir until the leaves wilt. Remove from heat.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pizza crusts and bake for five minutes (note that you can bake them one at a time if your oven is small like mine). Spread some of the jarred pasta sauce (or you can used canned plain tomato sauce) over the crusts and spread for a thin layer. Divide onion mixture in two and spread across pizza, and repeat with the roasted veggies. Chop the artichoke hearts and place over the layers. Bake the pizzas for 5 more minutes or until the crust is a dark golden brown. Slice and serve.
If you want to speed up the process, when you let the dough rise put it in a warmer place. The crust won’t have quite as much flavor, but it still beats Papa Johns any day. Also, you can obviously customize what veggies you use, I just think this combination is great. Be sure to roast any larger, firmer vegetables to make them taste that much better on the pizza.
Serves: 2 - 4
Preparation time: 1 - 2 1/2 hours
Vegan pizza: don't knock it until you've tried it!