Vegan pizza kind of sounds like an oxymoron when you say it, but, believe it or not the vegans have managed to make it with all the grease and cheese you would expect. But with grease in the form of olive oil and cheese in the form of soy cheese, the guilt factor significantly reduced Sometimes I think some people go vegan so they can gorge on comfort foods without feeling guilty. Well that is one of the perks anyways…
There are a couple factoids that you may be interested in before you get into the make-your-own pizza adventure:
Vegan pizza can be made in two different ways, as a no-cheese pizza or as a soy cheese pizza. No-cheese is pretty straight forward, you can order this from your local takeout joint by ordering the vegetarian with no cheese.
I would like to also point out, that there is an awesome no-cheese frozen pizza made my Amy’s called the Roasted Vegetable Pizza, which is sold in many natural foods markets. Here is a tip for those of you that have a Trader Joe’s in your area: TJ’s sells a Trader Joe’s brand Roasted Vegetable Pizza which is actually made by Amy’s and is exactly the same product but it sells for just under $5.00 instead of the $6.00-8.00 range of the Amy’s brand. I personally have about 5 TJ’s Roasted Vegetable pizzas in my freezer at all times for those days when I’m too lazy to cook.
The cheese versions are made with a brand called Follow Your Heart 99% of the time. I know this because I have been to several vegan pizza restaurants, and whenever I ask them what brand of cheese they use, I get the answer Follow Your Heart. The reason for this is very important, many of the other soy cheeses on the market are made with milk proteins or whey, or casein, which leads me to the next fact:
Most other soy cheese brands are not vegan. Just read the ingredients. Sadly enough, there are some unscrupulous pizza companies that are selling “soy cheese pizzas” that many customers assume are vegan ahhhhem…ZPizza . Unless it’s made with Follow Your Heart, it’s probably not vegan. Be sure to ask. Follow Your Heart has become the staple brand at restaurants and for do-it-yourselfers because it is truly vegan—no casein, it melts, and it taste good.
UPDATE: There is a new vegan cheese on the market that vegans are raving about called Daiya, and it is quickly becoming available at health food markets around the country. So as of August 2009, Daiya followed by Follow your Heart seem to be the favorites for vegan pizza. There is also a brand called Teese vegan cheese, but I haven’t had much luck with it.
My Favorite Vegan Pizza Recipe
I don’t know about you, but if I am going to make a pizza from scratch it better be good! I’m lazy This recipe I am about to share fits the bill. It is adapted from Isa Chandra’s infamous Vegan with a Vengeance. I’ve made this pizza several different times for several different people and there is a unanimous agreement that this pizza rocks; Even with… no especially with non-vegans I think its the fennel that “makes it.” If you’ve never cooked with fennel, you are in for a treat.
I have managed to get the prep time on this pizza down to 30 minutes by buying pre-seasoned tempeh, pre-made dough, and pre-made pizza sauce. We can still say we made it from scratch, right? Good, I made this for my last potluck dinner and it was a big hit. Thanks Isa!
Potato, Fennel and Tempeh Sausage Pizza
- 16 oz package of pizza dough (I get mine from Trader Joe’s, you can also make it yourself with 1 C water, 1 and 1/2 T sugar, 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast, 2T olive oil, 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 t salt * see prep directions below)
- Pizza Sauce (Try to get pizza sauce and not Marinara)
- 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (Follow Your Heart recommended)
- I/2 package pre-seasoned Italian tempeh
- 1/2 package plain tempeh cooked with 1/2 T fennel seed, 1/2 t basil, 1/2 t oregano, 1/2 t red pepper flakes, 1 clove of garlic, 1 T tamari or soy sauce, 1/2 T olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1/2 medium-size russet potato, scrubbed cut in half and thinly sliced (under 1/4 inch)
- 1/2 fennel bulb (the white part of the plant) -sliced very thinly
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Olive oil for drizzling and brushing
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat up your tempeh (add above spices if you’re using plain) over medium heat in a pan for about 10 minutes until slightly browned. Try not to over cook. Roll or stretch out your dough the best you can (about 12-14 inch round or square)—whatever shape comes out, lol. Place it on a pizza stone or regular baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Isa insists on using a pizza stone. You can get a cheap one with free amazon prime shipping here, or else just use a regular baking sheet.
Spread a thin layer of pizza sauce (about 1/2 cup) on the dough leaving about a an inch border. Sprinkle your soy cheese. Sprinkle your sliced fennel, garlic and potato. Drizzle with olive oil, and rub oil on the crust. Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until crust starts to brown and cheese melts. Slice, serve, and enjoy.
Pair it with your favorite beer or root beer!
* Pizza dough from scratch (makes 2 pizzas):
Add warm water and yeast into a bowl to proof it. Let it sit in water for 10 minutes and if it bubbles its working, if not start over with another package. While waiting for the yeast to prove itself, mix the flour and salt in a separate bowel. If the yeast is good, add the oil and stir, then add the dry ingredients. It should mix into a dough ball.
Sprinkle some extra flour on a flat surface, add flour to your hands, and need your dough for about 10 minutes. Next put it into a large bowl coated in olive oil. Turn the dough ball around so it is coated in olive oil. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel, and let it sit for an hour.
After that, the dough ball should be about twice as big. Take your dough and knead it again on a flowered surface; it will go back down in size. Now the dough needs to rest for at least 10 minutes. When you’re ready to make the pizza cut the dough in half and use half to make a 14 inch pizza by rolling out the dough the best you can. Use a rolling pin, if you have one, and try to stretch it into some sort of 12-14 inch shape. Place it on the baking pan or pizza pan that is sprinkled with cornmeal, and don’t worry about the shape the pizza will be beautiful!