Vegan Pizza Like You Wouldn’t Believe

 Mixing it up with roasted garlic cloves, red peppers, cashews, and vegan feta 

Mixing it up with roasted garlic cloves, red peppers, cashews, and vegan feta 

If the only pizza you like is pepperoni with a pound of mozzarella cheese on top, you might not be ready for vegan pizza. But if you love a good crust and are open to new toppings, vegan pizza could be for you.

Whether you’re a new cook, experienced, or a plant-based expert, there’s a vegan pizza for you. You’ll be well rewarded for your efforts. There’s nothing like great pizza straight out of the oven. 

Basics

A few basic techniques make a big difference to the texture and taste of your pizza no matter what your approach. 

  • Make crust from fresh dough – avoid pre-made, partially cooked flatbreads if you can
  • Use a hot oven – the highest temperature your oven will reach (probably 500°or 550°)
  • Use vegan cheese as an accent, not a blanket – this is healthier and minimizes unfavorable comparisons with dairy-based cheeses

Here are my recommendations for plant-based pizza for three levels of cooking skill (or available time).

Crust

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – buy fresh dough in the deli section of the supermarket
  • Experienced cooks – use one of the thousands of easy yeast-based pizza dough recipes online. They usually take less than two hours, including time for the dough to rise.
  • Expert cooks – get gourmet pizza quality (crispy on the outside, pillowy soft on the inside) with Ken Forkish’s The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home.

Sauce

Toppings

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – use very thin slices of mushrooms, onions, peppers, and easy add-ons like sliced olives and chopped raw spinach
  • Experienced cooks – Consider pre-roasting some vegetable chunks (e.g., broccoli, red pepper, butternut squash)
  • Expert cooks– Experiment with unusual topping combinations and include roasted cashews, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, Greek olives, and/or roasted garlic cloves

Cheese

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – Use vegan mozzarella cheese sold in supermarkets (e.g., Daiya, Follow your Heart)
  • Experienced cooks –Same as above
  • Expert cooks –Make your own Cashew Ricotta Cheese or Almond Feta Cheese to use on their own or in combination with vegan mozzarella

Baking Approach

  • New cooks (or in a hurry) – Shape the dough on a counter or cutting board, transfer to a sheet pan lined with a good dusting of flour and cornmeal or use a pizza pan with holes in it. Add sauce, toppings, and cheese, then put it in the oven.
  • Experienced and Expert cooks – Learn how to handle a pizza peel and baking stone. It takes practice, but ultimately you will be producing pizza to rival an Italian pizza parlor. 

Buon appetito!

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