Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pizza, and...More Pizza

Who says a good pizza necessarily involves cheese?

Not me. In fact, even before my vegan days, I always preferred pizzas with more sauce than cheese.

Now, don't get me wrong; I love a pizza with some good old vegan cheeze as much as anyone. But sometimes, cheeze-less is fun too. Over the weekend,  I threw together a couple of of those very specimens--it was a pizza-fest; we ate pizza twice!

The first pizza had tomato base with grilled mushrooms, fresh basil, and mustard mizuna:

This combo was based on a pizza I posted about here, and had been wanting to recreate at home ever since. The mushrooms were a little pricey, but I splurged a little and bought a Chef's Sampler from Mycopia.

The sampler contained these tasty varieties:

Buttons and crimini are great, but they don't begin to compare with any of these. Just upon opening the pack, a robust mushroom scent fills your nostrils. The velvet pioppini were very fragile to touch, but had the most full-bodied flavor. They were my favorite and well worth the splurge.

(For some extra browning action before adding them to the pizza, I grilled the mushrooms under the broiler with a little olive oil, black pepper, and a pinch of garlic powder for 1 - 2 minutes.)

Normally, I whip up a quick pizza sauce with pureed tomatoes that doesn't involve pre-cooking. This time, I made a cooked version, which added extra flavor and fragrance. The following makes a generous cup/enough for liberally saucing one 14-inch pizza:

2 large garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 large tomato, chopped
red chili flakes to taste
oregano to taste
1.5 cups strained San Marzano tomatoes, or whatever kind you want
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic and chili flakes over medium-low until garlic begins to become fragrant, toss in chopped tomato and oregano, continue to saute for another ~ 5 minutes until the tomato starts to break down. Add the strained tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer for another 15 - 20 minutes. You can allow it to cool before putting it on the pizza.

Pizza II
The second pizza feast involved spinach-walnut pesto, thinly sliced red potatoes, red onions, and chili flakes topped with fresh walnuts and rosemary:

The key to success in getting the potatoes to cook through in the same time it takes a thin crust pizza to cook is to slice the the tatoes very thin (as with a mandolin) and then soak them in warm, salty water for an hour or two before putting them on the pizza. In this way, the potatoes become softer and cook up more quickly.

If the potatoes are nice and thin and the pesto is rich and tasty, this pizza is not "too starchy" in the least...though it may sound like it would be.  This is the kind of pizza you take in your hands, fold in half, and eat like a sandwich:

Spinach-Walnut Pesto
(makes about 1 cup)

Blend in food processor:

2 cups fresh spinach, rinsed
handful of fresh basil ~ 1/2 cup ( or more to taste...I would have used a little more, but that's all I had)
1/2 cup raw walnuts (or other nut of choice)
1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1 generous tablespoon nutritional yeast
olive oil, water or veggie broth to bring up to desired consistency

The Dough
Last week, I found some Tipo "00" (zero zero) pizza flour in the store, which is what put pizza in my head in the first place. I had never used it before, so it was kind of exciting. This is a soft, finely milled flour containing very little gluten that is traditionally used in Neapolitan-style pizzas. From what I understand, a Neapolitan pizza crust should be made with "00" flour, fresh yeast (not the granules) and fired in a wood oven...Well, I got one out of three.

When elaborated according pizza-purist guidelines, a "pizza napoletana" crust is meant to have a soft edge with a very thin layer of crunch. I seriously doubt mine would be up to snuff for the pizza police, but it did come out with a nice crispy finish.

Here were the rough measurements I used for this dough:

~ 4 cups flour
1 1/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2  1/2 teaspoons yeast
cornmeal or semolina for dusting pizza pan

I always use a wooden spoon for making bread--not sure whether it make a difference, it's just the way I was taught--: Dissolve the yeast in 1/3 cup of the water, warmed to just above body temperature, it should feel quite warm to the touch but not hot. Stir in the sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until you can see the yeast reacting and foam develops on the top.

Toss about half the flour in a large bowl, add the salt, then pour in the yeast/water mixture and the remaining cup of water. Stir it up into a shaggy mass. Add in more flour in 1/4 - 1/2 cup increments until you can bring the dough up into a ball and it is no longer sticky.

Turn dough out onto a floured board, and knead the dough for a a few minutes, adding in more flour as you go to take up any stickiness. With plain white pizza dough, I usually don't bother kneading for more than 2 or 3 minutes, but it's up yourself.The end result should be an elastic texture that is not at all sticky.

Form a dough ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl (w/ olive oil) brush the top of the dough with a very light coating of olive oil, place bowl in a warm place and cover with a cloth or some plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until it's doubled in size.

At this point, you can punch the dough down and let it rise again, or shape it onto your cornmeal dusted pizza pan, add your ingredients and bake. This makes roughly enough for two *thin* 14-inch pizzas.


  1. wow wow wow! pizza overload! : ]
    My boyfriend was just saying today that I should make him another pizza. By not adding the cheese, it really can't be that unhealthy. I love the varieties of pizzas you posted. I will definitely be trying at least one of them.

    I am very curious to try the mushrooms you posted to. I recently discovered mushrooms, other than the typical cremini, and so far they all have been wonderful. I hope my local market starts carrying some of the mushrooms you listed.

  2. I've loved pizza without cheese since before my vegan days, too. We often make a pesto pizza or taco pizza. Yum!

  3. I never heard of these mushrooms before. That crust and sauce must be pretty great to have risked putting all those expensive shrooms on it. The Mustard Mizuna is new to me as well.

  4. When I first pulled up your post, a long "ooooooo" slipped out of my mouth! Your pizzas look amazing! I'm glad you put in the pizza dough recipe - that's something that's on my to-do list. Also, we eat pizza often with or without cheese. SR hates cheese, so this would work well for her.

  5. Potato pizza is near the top of my "so odd-sounding I have to try it someday" list. Yours looks wonderful, and I love the way the mushrooms sort of bathe in the tomato sauce in your mushroom pizza. It's a good way to showcase unusual mushrooms, in my opinion. Love your collage work ;-)

  6. PIZZA..PIZZA...PIZZA...I love pizza! You have made some great looking and very tasty sounding pizzas here. I haven't made my own crust yet, but it is on my to do list! And those mushrooms, I've never heard of them, but they sure look good! I am now craving pizza. :o)

  7. Oh, wow. I could eat so much pizza. I also like some without any cheeze (as long as there's plenty of sauce or juicy ingredients). I particularly like the second one. But I also like your tomato sauce recipe, too.

    Great work on the collage - it's a step-by-step 1 2 3 4!

  8. Your pizzas are gorgeous! I heard once that if you're paying attention, you'll learn at least three new things every day. I learned at least that many from this post alone! :-) Like SV, mustard mizuna is new to me, and I've never heard of any of those mushrooms varieties, either. Nor have I ever heard of putting potatoes on pizza! (They're two of my favorite foods, though, what's not to love?) :-)

    BW's the pizza chef at our house, and if I can sit him down long enough to dictate his recipe and instructions for the crust and sauce, I plan to post it next month. It's delicious, but we use pretty standard toppings so it's not nearly as unique and creative as yours. Can't wait to show him this post! :-)

    And our pizza has long been vegan cheeseless because we decided if there's an abundance of flavorful sauce and yummy toppings, the cheese really just creates a distraction of salty, fattiness that covers up much of the good flavors.

    I swear, Rose, you really need to be running your own bistro! :-)

  9. I love that you used whole mushrooms! great work! :)

  10. Jacklyn

    Can't wait to see what pizza creations you come up with...I remember the last one you made and it was a great combo.

    I've seen the trumpet royales at Whole Foods, and Mycopia is a CA company, so hopefully they won't be too difficult to find.

    That taco pizza you speak of sounds yummy!

    I know it seems like a mundane way to use fancy mushrooms, but it actually worked well because they were the main flavor ingredient on the pizza topping and their flavors really stood out.

    Mizuna is just a variety of mustard green, so it's kind of spicy like mustard, but I think it's milder than regular mustard greens and more tender, so is really good in salads or to eat raw.

    Pizza dough will be a breeze for an experienced bread baker like you! :)

  11. Zoa

    I agree that potatoes on pizza is not the most obvious combo, but it is pretty good if you're in the right mood.

    I actually thought of you when I was checking out those mushrooms, because you always seem to use a variety of interesting ones.


    I'm the same: all I have to do is see a piece of pizza and I start craving some. :) The mushrooms were all really good, if you try some of those kinds, definitely let us know how you like them.


    I'm with you on the juicy ingredients on pizza! I'm definitely having fun learning a little bit of Picasa too.


    So true about learning something new everyday...I had not heard nor tried of any of those mushrooms before this weekend either...except I have used some mushrooms that looked and tasted like the trumpet royales before, but they were called something different, so I'm thinking it was the same mush with a different name, but who knows?

    If you like spicy greens you'll like the mizuna, it has a bite like mustard greens, but not as strong and much more tender.

    I hope you can get BW's pizza recipe posted; I would love to see his yummy pizza. I think the sauce is hands-down my number one fav ingredient on a pizza too...you really need to post more food on your blog...you guys are always munching on yummy dishes as far as I can tell! :)


    Thanks, glad you like the idea of the mushrooms! Leaving them whole really allowed us to enjoy their texture as well as their flavor.

  12. Rose, these pizzas are 10s on the pizza meter! They are just perfect looking. My favorite toppings are mushrooms and broccoli, but I've never splurged on fabulous mushrooms to put on pizza. I see I was wrong about that. And obviously I should have made walnut pesto. Wow.

  13. Andrea,

    Broccoli is one of my favorite pizza ingredients too, also corn kernels.

    I fashioned the mushroom one after the nettle pesto pizza with grilled mushrooms from Carmelita...just switched out the pesto for tomato sauce. That Carmelita pizza was so memorable, I had to give it a go myself.

    Using the mushrooms in big chunks and as the main pizza flavor was a good way to enjoy their texture and full flavor...I can also imagine them being really good just grilled on the BBQ with a little red chili and ginger...they don't need much because they are so flavorful.

  14. Rose, where I live, shiitake mushrooms and fresh collard greens are considered terribly exotic. Can't find the former most of the time, and when I spied fresh collard greens for the first time ever in one of the local grocery stores and bought some, I had to tell the middle-aged cashier what they were. I'm afraid finding mustard mizuna and any 'shroom wilder than a portobello is like seeking the Holy Grail! But someday... ;-)

    You're right that we're usually munching on good eats, but my food photography skills are rudimentary at best, and most of our dishes are just too simple to bother blogging about or not very original recipes. But I do have some fun meal plans for this Halloween weekend and also plan to post a few food posts next month as a show of solidarity for Vegan MoFo. But other than that, can't I just enjoy your food posts instead of doing my own? Pleeeeeze? LOL

  15. The pizzas look so tempting n truly out of the world .... Bookmarking the
    wonderful recipe for future reference !!!

    - Smita
    (fun food ideas for little eaters)

  16. Laurie

    I do see exotic mushrooms and collards in your future!

    I'm looking forward to your Halloween eats weekend! I've been spending a lot of time lately on non-food exclusive blogs, and am beginning to think that they're more fun than posting about food all the time anyway.


  17. Smita

    Thanks for much for your comment. I've already had a look at your creative and pretty blog; fun for kids and big people alike. I'll definitely be following along with your inventive creations. :)

  18. These are beauties, yum! I'm excited about MOFO, how about you?

  19. Hi Gilding Lilies,

    I am excited about MoFo too! Should be a lot of awesome food, good fun, and my favorite part is discovering blogs that I otherwise probably wouldn't have stumbled across!


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