Are you turning over a new leaf with your workouts, incorporating a more mindful approach to life, or learning to cook some healthier recipes? Whatever your goals for the New Year, we’ve got something for everyone.
If eating a few more meat-free meals during the week is one of your resolutions, this pizza will be the hero for one of them.
It’s easy to see why Meatless Monday has gained popularity in the mainstream, what with its claims for better health, a more youthful glow, and a fatter bank account. But those aren’t just claims! Research shows that eating a diet high in whole, plant-based foods can have significant health benefits, including more energy, weight loss, a more youthful appearance, and a reduced risk of many illnesses like heart disease and high blood pressure. People who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (the actual plants, themselves) tend to be eating foods that are higher in fibre, lower in bad fats, and packed with health-promoting nutrients and antioxidants.
But the most compelling reason to incorporate a few more plant-based meals into your repertoire is because the food is good. REALLY good! Plant-loving food bloggers like Sherrie from With Food and Love, Laura from The First Mess, Heather from Yum Universe, and even me from 80twenty have made it our life’s mission to create plant-based foods that are brighter and more inspiring than many meat-focused foods.
Don’t believe me? Try this pizza. And good luck with whatever resolutions you take on!
Vegan Roasted Veggie Pizza with Homemade Basil “Cheese”
Makes 1 large or 4 smaller personal pizzas
You can use your favourite ready-made pizza shells, but we highly recommend giving this homemade pizza dough a try. All you need is a little time for the dough to rise and the flavour is unbeatable. The basil cheese will keep in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for just over a week.
For the Pre-ferment
½ cup warm water
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp instant yeast
½ cup unbleached, organic all-purpose flour
For the Dough
½ cup cold water
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for coating the bowl
1 cup cornmeal, plus more for sprinkling the pan with
1 cup spelt flour
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp salt
½ tsp Italian seasoning, optional
1 container (8 oz) of cremini mushrooms, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp grape seed oil, divided
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 large red onion, cut into thin wedges, keeping the root intact so that they don’t fall apart
Salt and pepper, to taste
7.5 oz can of your favourite pizza sauce
Arugula for topping, optional
Creamy Basil "Cheese"
Slightly adapted from Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle's Plum Bistro
1 (14-16-ounce) package of silken tofu, water completely drained
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup olive oil
2 tsp organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
2.5 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup chopped, fresh basil leaves, plus more small basil leaves for garnishing, optional
To make the preferment:
Put the water, yeast, and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to incorporate, cover the bowl with a towel, and set it aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. It should be active and bubbly.
To make the dough:
Add the water, ¼ cup of olive oil, cornmeal, spelt flour, AP flour, salt, and Italian seasoning to the activated preferment and mix the dough on medium speed with a dough-hook for a minute or two. The dough should be smooth and a little tacky to touch. If it’s too sticky, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. If it’s too dry, add more water, a teaspoon at a time. The dough should start to pull away from the edge of the bowl.
Shape the dough into a ball and pull it out of the mixer and into another large bowl that has been coated with oil. Cover the dough with a little more olive oil, then cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This could take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours.
Punch the dough down and shape it into a ball again. Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F.
While the pizza dough is on its last rise, toss the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil, thyme sprigs, and garlic and place on a baking tray. Toss the peppers and onions with the other tablespoon of grape seed oil, sprinkle with salt, and place on another baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven (450°F) for 12-15 minutes or until the veggies are tender. This could take a little longer. When the mushrooms are done, sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Set all of the roasted vegetables aside to cool.
Creamy Basil “Cheese”:
Put the tofu on several layers of paper towel. Cover it with several more layers of paper towel and let it sit for 10 minutes to absorb some of the moisture.
Remove the paper towel and put the tofu, dried basil, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, sugar, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice in a blender. Blend in short bursts until the mixture is smooth. Add the fresh basil and pulse to incorporate and break it down. The mixture should be creamy when finished.
If making personal pizzas, use a bread scraper (a genius tool for any bread making) OR a sharp knife to cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to your crusts that are your desired shape and thickness. Sprinkle cornmeal on 2 baking sheets (to prevent it from burning) and place the crusts on the pan.
Bake for 2-3 minutes, then flip the crusts with a large spatula or pizza peel and cook them for another 2-3 minutes. Cool the crusts for a few minutes then add a generous layer of pizza sauce, a good amount of the roasted vegetables, and several dollops of the creamy basil “cheese”.
Bake in the oven until the edges are crisp and golden, about 7-10 minutes. Sprinkle with arugula and baby basil, if you like. Serve immediately.