make your own darn pizza!

the pizza that required a close up

a few of my friends recently mentioned to me that they run out of dinner ideas pretty often. i’m pretty sure they were hinting that i post more dinner recipes on the blog, and post more often. they are right, i should. not only to help those who run out of ideas, but to remind myself to mix things up more often, too. a little while back, i was feeling really ambitious, and wanted a nice low fat vegan dinner that wasn’t my usual. pizza. i was going to make pizza. i don’t do this often, or at least i didn’t back then. i had it stuck in my head that pizza dough was a pain in the…. oven.

once i got started, it took no time at all. it was delicious. it was beautiful. it was healthy. it met all of my requirements for awesome.

here is how i did it. aside from the dough, i wanted a simple sauce that would highlight the veggies that i love so dearly. love the sweetness and subtlety of fire roasted tomatoes, and had a can laying around that were begging for it. there was no way i was going to put a pre-made pizza sauce on this thing. no no way. also, i’ve been avoiding dairy as much as possible lately, so i made a vegetarian ricotta cheese that is amazing. i really didn’t know what i was doing as far as this went, so i winged it. now that i’ve done it, i don’t think i can screw it up. please trust me here. i wouldn’t even think of putting dairy on pizza now. do me a favor and just try it.

if you use any whole grain flour, i would recommend spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or white whole wheat. i would not recommend straight whole wheat. there are some great yeasts out there that you can use that are specially formulated for whole grain baking. USE IT. it will make your dough soft and conditioned. also, i would start with 1 3/4 cups flour and add more as you knead to ensure your dough doesn’t dry out.

easy pizza dough:

2 scant cups spelt flour, whole wheat pastry, or whatever flour you wish

1 1/2 tsp fast acting yeast

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp honey

2/3 cups warm water

whisk together baking powder, flour, and a pinch of table salt in a dry bowl.

proof the yeast by adding the honey, then the yeast to warm (not hot) water. let it sit for 5 minutes or so. it should foam in 5-10 minutes. stir in oil, then add it to dry ingredients, keeping in mind the note about flour amount. stir with a wooden, plastic, or rubber spoon. no metal.

once mixture becomes too doughy for spoon, collect all dough scraps from spoon and begin kneading by hand. knead on lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes. if dough is sticky, you may add more flour SLOWLY. adding too much can result in a tough, dry dough, and so will over kneading at this point. place dough in glass bowl and cover with a warm damp towel laying over bowl. place in draft free warm spot. let it sit for 30 minutes to rise.

for the sweet and simple sauce:

can of fire roasted tomatoes (i always use a 14.5 oz can of muir glen organic no salt added)

some salt to taste

pepper to taste

tiny pinch of sugar

drain most of the juice from the tomatoes. save it, it is super good on noodles. using the chunks, mix remaining ingredients together in a bowl and set aside. i like to let things sit for a while to let the flavors mingle.

vegan “ricotta” cheese:

7 or so oz. firm tofu, crumbled with fingers and fork or whatever it takes to make it look like ricotta

squeeze from 1/2 lemon

zest from 1/2 lemon

salt to taste

pepper to taste

2 or so basil leaves finely chopped up

tiny drizzle of olive oil

mix all ingredients together. again, let it sit for a while. i usually let it sit for an hour or so.

toppinz:

whatever you like!

here are some suggestions:

chopped asparagus

sliced mushrooms

yellow squash

red onions

roasted peppers

a little minced garlic

be creative!

here is a hint for toppings: use smallish pieces for easy slicing and to ensure even cooking, especially onions.

make it into a pizza:

preheat oven to 450f and put rack on second shelf in the oven. prep pizza pan by spraying with a little oil and sprinkling a couple tbsp cornmeal over oil. punch down your now risen dough. stretch it out gently. it should be a little elasticity. turn dough out on floured counter and shape dough. i like to move from the center out, in a circular motion, to ensure even thickness. carefully transfer to pan. brush outer crust very lightly with a little olive oil. dress up your pizza, sauce first. top with veggies, then sprinkle “cheese” over sauce.

bake for 10-15 minutes. cheese will turn golden when it is ready. just keep an eye on the crust so it doesn’t burn.

i made that pizza!

i made that pizza!

let it cool for 5 minutes before slicing. eat it outside. with some wine. share with a friend. or eat the whole thing and drink alone, whatever you think.

can you use canned sauce? yes. can you use any cheese you want instead of tofu? yes. can you put bacon and burger and sausage and pork rinds on it? i guess so. everyone loves pizza, so i’m sure you’ll have fun and be creative with this one. it’s yours now. take it and run with it. but if you put pork rinds on it, please don’t tell me.

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