Cheeseless Pizza

October 15, 2009 at 10:44 am Leave a comment

What do you miss most?

I felt like one of the greatest losses to my life was pizza.  Oh, pizza.  Who honestly doesn’t like pizza?  But for quite a while, I boycotted the idea of pizza.  I found it too depressing to think about.  The smell of a pizza shop in full swing acted almost as a siren song.  It’s just that I couldn’t go in.  I couldn’t indulge in that ooey, gooey cheesy mainstay of the American diet.

After a while, though, I got to thinking.  When I was a little kid, I used to pull the cheese right off of any pizza that was put in front of me.  We’ve all seen kids do this.  Of course I (and those other kids) ate that cheese.  But for some reason in my strange little child’s brain they were two separate things, this cheese and the tomato-topped bread stuff.  I was not one who hated the crust.  Oh, no.  I loooove pizza crust (and pretty every other bread-like substance that has ever passed my two lips).  In fact, it was the main reason I like pizza so much.  The only reason I can’t have pizza is because of the cheese, but I’d been denying myself the pleasure of the crust and toppings for far too long.  So why not return to those fun kid days and have the crust, the tomato, and now that I’m an adult, throw in some adventurous toppings — like veggies!  This is more than a focaccia with the tomato sauce and all the toppings!

Some pizza places will give you a cheeseless pizza if you ask nicely, but I always felt nervous that I’d get it and there the globs of dairy would sit.  And this did happen a few times.  Eventually, the more I found myself in my own kitchen, I came up with my own recipe.  It only takes a little bit of time, and you don’t have to worry about it getting cold while they deliver it!

Since I love pizza crust, I make my own.  Without the cheese, I prefer to make a whole wheat pizza dough.  It’s adds a bit more flavor.  If you don’t like whole wheat pizza dough, there’s plenty of options out there.  If you don’t have time or don’t want to make your own dough, you can always pick some up in the refrigerated or frozen section of your grocery store.  It is really easy, though.  Don’t be afraid of the yeast!

Ingredients:

Raw ingredients
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/4 t. active yeast (or 1 packet)
1/2 t. salt
1 c. warm water (not boiling!  warm from the tap is fine, you should be able to put your finger in without burning it off!)
2 T. olive oil
Pizza toppings, like:
tomato sauce
1 Portobello mushroom
1 small bell pepper
1 medium red onion
Any topping will do here.  Whatever you like and whatever you have on hand!

Lets make the dough!

IngredientsIn a stand mixer, food processor or in any bowl, add the yeast, warm water, the all-purpose flour and 1/2 c. of the whole wheat flour.  Mix together.  Add the 2 T. of olive oil, the salt and another 1/2 c. of whole wheat flour and begin mixing.

Mixing the doughYou want to mix these together until the dough starts to come together.  Add the remaining 1/2 c. of whole wheat flour and knead with the dough hook or by hand until you have a smooth, elastic ball.  You can see how sticky the dough was in the picture at the top right.  A few minutes later, it came together and after some kneading, it was quite smooth, as in the bottom right hand picture.
Take the ball of dough out the bowl and add about 1 T. of oil to the bottom.  Coat the bowl.  Yes, I know I’ve left the bowl a bit dirty from where the dough scraped the side while mixing.  It’s ok.  This is perfectly fine.  I have to remind myself of this.  It feels so wrong, but it’s so right.  Just let it go.
Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and coat all sides in the oil from the bowl.  You can see a little shine on the dough in the center photo.
Cover with a clean dish towel and put in a warm-ish place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.  I like to do it this way: preheat my oven to about 200° while I’m mixing the dough, then turn it off after a few minutes.  I put the dough in there.  This works really nicely, especially if you’re like me and you’re too cheap to turn the heat on in your apartment when it’s cool just to make some dough.  It’s only October here, people.  The heat cannot come on yet!

Risen dough

After about 45 minutes, my dough had doubled in bulk.  Yes, it’s magic.  And no, I’m not a witch!  You can’t see that line on my bowl where the dough scraped any more because the dough has risen that high!
Gently fold the dough down.  You can punch it if you want, but it’s not really necessary.  Knead the dough just a little bit to get out the excess bubbles of air and let it rest for 10 minutes or so.
Preheat your oven to 450°.
Dough on the pan
Grab a rimmed baking sheet (I’ve got a jelly roll pan here), and oil the surface a bit so that the pizza doesn’t stick.
Gently stretch the dough out on the pan.  This dough recipe conveniently makes just the right amount to cover this pan generously.  Interesting, that.

Start topping your pizza.

Pizza toppings Add the tomato sauce and spread it around a bit.  Toss on the mushrooms, then the onions, then the peppers.
Put it in your HOT oven for 20-25 minutes.
It will come out looking like this.  It’s kind of closer to Chicago style than New York thin crust.  Nice and crisp on the bottom.

Now, if I’m having this for a meal, I need a little something more.  My favorite companion to this is dark leafy greens and cannellini beans sauted together with a little acid.

Dark leafy greens

with cannellini beans

Ingredients:

1 bunch of curly kale (or chard, or dandelion greens, whatever)
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic
1 cup cooked or 1 can of drained cannellini beans
some left over onions and other veggie toppings that didn’t fit on the pizza also makes a nice addition

Get sauteing

Mixed beans and greensPut oil into a hot pan, and add the onions and saute about 2 minutes until beginning to soften.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Be careful that they do not begin to burn.
Toss in the kale and let wilt just a little.  Add about 1 t. of balsamic vinegar.  Mmm balsamic makes this so yummy.
Add the beans and about 4 T. of water.  This will help steam the greens quickly, get all the bits off the bottom of your pan, and warm the beans.
Serve everything together on a plate and enjoy.

It may not be a cheesy pizza with cheese in the crust and cheese hidden who knows where else, but it’s yummy and pizza-like.  This would also make a nice appetizer at a party if you cut it up into smaller squares!

Cheeseless Pizza

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/4 t. active yeast (or 1 packet)
1/2 t. salt
1 c. warm water (not boiling!  warm from the tap is fine, you should be able to put your finger in without burning it off!)
2 T. olive oil
Pizza toppings, like: tomato sauce, 1 Portobello mushroom, 1 small bell pepper, 1 medium red onion. Any topping will do here.  Whatever you like and whatever you have on hand!


  • Add the yeast, warm water, the all-purpose flour and 1/2 c. of the whole wheat flour.
  • Mix together.
  • Add the 2 T. of olive oil, the salt and another 1/2 c. of whole wheat flour and mix.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 c. of whole wheat flour and knead with the dough hook or by hand until you have a smooth, elastic ball.
  • Take the ball of dough out the bowl.
  • Add about 1 T. of oil to the bottom.
  • Coat the bowl.
  • Put the ball of dough back into the bowl and coat all sides in the oil from the bowl.
  • Cover with a clean dish towel and put in a warm-ish place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until doubled in bulk.
  • Gently fold the dough down.
  • Knead the dough just a little bit to get out the excess bubbles of air and let it rest for 10 minutes or so.
  • Preheat your oven to 450°.
  • Grab a rimmed baking sheet, and oil the surface a bit so that the pizza doesn’t stick.
  • Gently stretch the dough out on the pan.
  • Add the tomato sauce and spread it around a bit.
  • Toss on the mushrooms, then the onions, then the peppers.
  • Put it in your HOT oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, cut into pieces, and enjoy.

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Entry filed under: Beans, Italian, Under, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian.

Watching autumn Into the light

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