Pizza is sort of a touchy subject with me lately.
Ordering a vegan pizza at a restaurant can prove to be a bit interesting at times.
Chefs come to the table and try to sweet talk me, pleading with their delicious Italian accent for just a sprinkle of cheese. One time, a chef flat out refused to make his pie without cheese, throwing his hands up in dismay and washing himself clean of impure, cheeseless thoughts.
And this is how a Pizza Complex develops.
And I’m worn down.
When I found out that the next Project Food Blog challenge was to put a unique spin on pizza, I wasscared.
I wanted to run away and never look back. Bye bye, Foodbuzz, it has truly been a slice.
Running away to the woods allowed me to clear my head. Over the course of a few
days minutes- and a lotof Pizza Complex Rumination- I felt like myself again. I shouted, “I will show the world that a vegan pizza is not just ‘a worse-tasting pizza without cheese’, but a beautiful work of art!”
And then I screamed like a baby after seeing a creepy man in the bushes with a camera.
Wait. Is that my husband?
Anyways. I found myself in the kitchen once again, ready to conquer my Pizza Complex once and for all…
Roasted Tomato, Onion, and Basil Pesto Pizza with Vegan Parmesan Cheese
Here’s What You’ll Need to prepare:
- Herb-infused Pizza Dough
- Vegan Parmesan Cheese
- Vegan Pesto
- Garlic-infused oil
- Roasted Tomato, Onion, Garlic, and Basil topping
For instructions, start to finish, see the attached PDF. The dough, cheese, and pesto can be made ahead.
Despite my newfound conviction to rock a vegan pizza, there was one small catch…
I’ve had a few traumatic pizza dough flops in the past.
Making pizza dough that turns into a tough ball of gluten is not something one forgets easily. It haunts you in your sleep until you convince yourself that you can actually live a fairly happy life without ever trying to make pizza dough again.
That is, until this challenge threw me for a loop.
Pizza doh, indeed.
For 6 hours on Friday night I was a student again.
I studied, I practiced, and I vowed to become a Master of Pizza Dough. It turns out making pizza dough is incredibly easy, but my glowing pride was no less. I can also tell you that cocoa powder, chili powder, or nutritional yeast infused pizza dough all taste horrible. Bad, bad things happened.
I would not be here today without my You Tube Pizza Mentor, Albert.
Also, to the red wine for making the 10 dough trials seem like I was at an all night rave.
I tested 5 different pizza dough recipes and the one that worked best for me involved no fancy machine or special dough hooks, just some old-fashioned elbow grease!
Kneading the dough was hypnotic and calming as I tested batch, after batch.
With each trial, I felt a bit more comfortable with the dough and it actually became fun!
When the dough is ready it will be soft, smooth, and no longer tacky to touch.
Now, make the sauce and toppings.
I had some CSA tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil to use up and I figured they would work well together.
Coat the chopped veggies with a homemade olive oil sauce and roast for about 35-40 minutes at 400F.
Now whip up the Vegan pesto!
and then the Vegan parmesan cheese.
The house smells like a dream right about now.
When your dough is ready, punch the air out one final time.
I tested three popular pizza baking methods:
1) Pizza pan –> Soft crust, soft interior
2) Back of a baking sheet –> Soft crust, soft interior
3) Pizza Stone –> Authentic, crunchy crust, with soft interior
The pizza stone won by a landslide!
Sprinkle cornmeal over your Pizza Peel to prevent sticking.
Now for the part that I was terrified of….shaping the dough!
I found that the best way to work with the dough was to just let gravity do most of the work.
Gently hold and rotate the dough allowing gravity to pull the sides down ever so slightly.
When you have something that resembles a circle, place it on your Peel.
Gently spread it out.
Now pinch the sides to form a crust.
Spread on the sautéed garlic infused oil to keep the crust moist and flavourful.
Don’t be shy with the pesto. This is the best part!
Now spread on the Roasted Onion, Tomato, Garlic, and Basil mixture.
and finally, a generous dusting of the vegan Parmesan Cheese to finish it off!
Slide the pizza onto your stone which has been pre-heating at 500F for 1 hour.
I liked what I saw. A lot.
After 15 minutes, your crust will be golden and crisp and your veggies will begin to blacken around the edges.
Your husband, who has been installing hardwood flooring all morning, will magically appear at the right moment.
He salivates and inhales 3 slices of pizza.
The pesto makes a wonderful dip for the thick, crunchy crust.
Pizza Complex Defeated.
Enjoy your delicious pizza while discussing dessert…
I tend to get a little carried away at times.