Yesterday, my darling niece, Sharon, posted a link for Democracy Coffee House to Buster’s Facebook page (yeah, yeah, so my dog has a Facebook page), and, as a result, I spent the better part of an hour salivating over pictures of amazingly delicious-looking vegan dishes. James happened to peek over my shoulder as I was creeping through their pizza pictures and said, “Yes! PIZZA! Let’s have PIZZA!”
So that’s what this evening’s plant-based meal is…vegan pizza!
So here’s the whole process, starting with a new innovation for me: savoury cashew cream in place of cheese…though James used the Daiya soy mozarella on “his” pizza.
We’ll start with the cashew “cheeze”…
Cashew-Cream “Cheeze” for Pizza:
- 1 cup cashews (covered with boiling water for about half an hour and drained)
- 1/2 cup water retained from the cashew-soaking process
- 1 tsp. Better Than Bouillon vegetable paste
- 2 tsp. basil (fresh or dehydrated)
- 1 tsp. oregano (fresh or dehydrated)
- 1 TBS. olive oil
- 1 TBS. nutritional yeast
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic
Blend all the ingredients until no graininess remains. It should look something like this:
Next…the sauce. I prefer an uncooked sauce because it tastes fresher…and the sauce will cook on the pizza anyway.
- 1 28-ounce can of tomatoes
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1/4 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 TBS olive oil
- handful of fresh oregano
- handful of fresh basil
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Blend all the ingredients until smooth…it’s okay if it’s a bit chunky…like this:
If you make the two above ingredients first, the spices have a chance to meld a bit while you prepare everything else.
Put these ingredients in a stand mixing bowl until the yeast blossoms:
- 1 TBS. yeast
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1 3/4 cups warm water
Once the yeast has blossomed, I usually add a bunch of rosemary, oregano, and chopped basil if I have any fresh (so it’s throughout the dough), then I add:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 cups flour whole wheat flour and 1 cup of white flour (add gradually)
Once you’ve added everything, let the mixer go until it forms a ball around the dough paddle. If you prefer a thinner crust, add more water and make three crusts.
Leave it to rise for an hour and a half, punch it down, form it into two pizza crusts and let it sit for about fifteen minutes to rise a bit again. Then use whatever the thing is in the picture below to make little holes in the crust.
Tomatoes, red onion, red pepper, black olives, dates (James’ weird idea, but they were quite good), baby spinach and kale, artichokes, pine nuts, and capers…and James’ gin and tonic (because he was in charge of chopping everything while I made the sauces).
Assembled Pizza #1 topped with Cashew-Cream “Cheeze”:
Assembled Pizza #2 topped with Daiya shredded mozarella:
Pop them in the oven at 450 for about 20 – 25 minutes, and they’re dunzo!
And here are the finished products!
And here’s dinner–delicious!!
The pizzas were so good, James ate SEVEN pieces.
We also realized that the cheese on pizza is not actually that important. Indeed, it’s more of a rubbery substance to hold the fillings down. After baking, the cashew cream had the texture of baked buffalo mozarella. The pine nuts added a nice little crunch, and the dates added a surprisingly subtle sweetness. In future, I’ll add sun-dried tomatoes as a topping as well (but we’re at the cabin, and I don’t have any at the moment).
I often make pizza in the summer for guests, and, of course, the crusts are not whole wheat, and they are always topped with three kinds of cheese (feta, parmesan, mozzarella), so I was really expecting to be….not exactly disappointed, but, I suppose, underwhelmed. The surprise was that I really wasn’t underwhelmed at all. The pizza was actually really good–different from my “company” pizza, but very, very good!
Aaaand here’s what we were listening to this evening (haha–we were watching old reruns of Law and Order):
So, after spending our long hike talking about last night’s pizza and what we’d do differently if we were to make vegan pizzas again, we decided to….MAKE VEGAN PIZZAS AGAIN!
James wanted to try super-thin crusts, so I added more water and made three crusts out the recipe for two. They turned out very thin and crispy and MUCH better than my usual thick focaccia-crust pizza. Also, I wanted to try drizzling the savoury cashew cream on after the pizza had baked, which turned out MUCH better. You do have to load the cream into a plastic bag to kind of pipe it on though. The warm pizza warms the cream a bit. SO, so good!
I also added some broccoli to one, which we both liked, though we didn’t really notice it much.
Finally….and this is sort of weird, but bear with me…I wanted to try drizzling honey on the pizza. When I was in Dublin in December, Em took me to a hipster pizza place (called Skinflint) with the weirdest, most fantastic pizzas I’ve ever tasted. They served the pizza with a little thingy of special hipster artisanal honey (likely made by artisanal bees from artisanal clover). IT WAS DELICIOUS. Here’s a shot of my definitely non-vegan, hipster, European pizza (oh my god, I’m having taste flashbacks…it was SO good).
Anyway, we tried honey (non-hipster, non-artisanal) on our pizza, and it was to die for!! Highly recommended (with a splash of Frank’s as well, of course!).
And here’s the thin-crust, vegan pizza with the savoury cashew cream drizzled on top…
AND JAMES ATE TEN PIECES TONIGHT!!!!
Oh, and here we are having a slice and watching an old L&O episode….