Yesterday was international Vegan Pizza Day. Since becoming vegan I had never had pizza. Before I was a vegan I absolutely adored pizza. I had a favourite pizza takeaway in Highbury that does beautiful crisp stone baked bases topped with the freshest vegetables. The thought of not eating pizza again didn't bear thinking about.
When I heard about Vegan Pizza Day I decided I would make one myself. I thought the idea of just having veggies and no cheese was a bit disappointing so I tried to hunt down a good vegan cheese. I've tried a couple of vegan cheeses before and to be honest they have been the worst thing I have ever eaten. But things get better all the time and I had read amazing things about vegan cheeses on blogs. To cut a long story short, I looked for vegan cheese, I found one and although it melted perfectly, it was foul. If you want something to be just right, make it yourself.
The pizza was actually the best pizza I've ever made, better than my cheese pizzas of days gone by. It was eaten by my boyfriend and his friend who loved it, even though they are are devout meat and cheese eaters. I always like to test my food out on non vegans, because I don't want my vegan food to be vegetarian food's poor cousin and also, I have no vegan friends.
Thank you Quarry Girl for inventing Vegan Pizza Day, I had a great time researching, experimenting and eating vegan pizza!
VEGAN MOZZARELLA CHEESE
I was inspired by the recipe on Veganize This! But I used ingredients that can be found in British Supermarkets.
- 1 package Extra Soft Silken Tofu
- 1 pot of Alpro Soya Cream
- 1/2 TBSP table salt
- A small clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp Sherry vinegar
- 2 sachets of Dr Oetker's vege gel, gelatine subsititute
- Place all ingredients apart from the Vege Gel powder in the food processor. Once you have a smooth liquid scrape it all into a small saucepan and stir in the vege gel. Leave it for 5 minutes.
- Next heat on high until it boils. Stir constantly.
- Remove from the heat and pour into a container. Personally I like to pour it into tiny round bowls so that it resembles mozzarella balls but one tub or tupperware is fine.
- Leave it to set for a few hours until it's firm enough to grate.
FRESH TOMATO SAUCE
This is a time consuming recipe so best to make in bulk and freeze most of it, of course you could always use a jar of sauce but trust me, this sauce really makes the pizza.
- A carrier bag full of ripe tomatos
- 1 large or 2 small white onions (chopped)
- 3 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- Olive oil
- A handful of fresh basil
- Fill your biggest saucepan 1/4 of the way full with boiling water. Throw in enough tomatoes to cover the top. Watch them. The skins will crack. Once this happens remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and put them aside in a bowl. Each time you remove tomatoes replace them with fresh ones until you've blanched all of them then allow the tomatoes to cool.
- On a medium/low heat heat your oil and soften the onions. Once soft, add the garlic.
- Slip the skins off the tomato. They should come off easily. Using a peeling knife remove the bit where the stalk was once (technical word??) and throw the tomato in with the onions.
- When you've got all the tomatoes in there turn up the heat a bit and let the sauce simmer until it thickens and darkens. You can have the sauce simmering away for an hour or more.
- When it's at the consistency you want add the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
I based my pizza dough recipe on a Jamie Oliver one.
• 500g strong white bread flour or Tipo ‘00’ flour
• 1/2 level tablespoon fine sea salt
• 1 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
• 1 tsp golden caster sugar
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 325ml lukewarm water
- Sieve the flour and salt into to a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and olive oil into the water and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. Using a fork, bring the flour in gradually from the sides and swirl it into the liquid. Keep mixing, drawing larger amounts of flour in, and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.
- Place the ball of dough in a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place somewhere warm like the airing cupboard for about an hour until the dough has doubled in size.
- Remove the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead it to push the air out with your hands. Divide the dough up into 4 balls.
- Roll out your pizza dough to fit the tray that you're going to use. I used the flat piece from a spring form flan case for mine, this made a good size for one individual pizza for someone with a good appetite.
- Bake the pizza bases one at a time on the tray for 5-7 minutes at 200 C until it is firm enough to stay flat when not supported by the tray, remove the bases from the tray and let them cool.
Now you can add the tomato sauce, grate the cheese on and add the toppings. In the picture I have topped my pizza with Sunblush tomatoes, courgette - sliced thinly with a vegetable peeler, tinned artichoke hearts and sliced black olives. I drizzle extra-virgin oil on my pizza and sprinkle with dried oregano.
They can be cooked now by putting back in the oven for 10 minutes or you can leave them in the fridge or freezer for later. Freezing is a great idea because its not like us vegans have the luxury of good quality frozen pizza to stick in the oven when we don't want to cook.
One more thing. You absolutely MUST remember to sprinkle your hot pizza with chilli flakes, dip the crusts in hot sauce or sweet chilli sauce and save at least one slice to eat cold the next day....if you don't like chilli - I just don't know what to say to you.