Let’s talk pizza! Our family LOVES pizza and our favorite restaurant to dine at currently is Mellow Mushroom. They are vegan and “family friendly” and we’ve been to several here in the Southeast (in Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama, as a matter of fact). Pizza is often a staple for us on Friday or Saturday nights when we are up for something quick and easy to make. Now I don’t claim to be Betty Crocker, so I will tell you now that 9 times out of 10 I do buy my pizza dough (as opposed to making it).
Where we live you can buy pre-made pizza dough from Publix, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s. Whenever possible, I generally buy our pizza dough from Trader Joe’s because it is vegan, the ingredients are simple and pronouncable, it’s really good and you can’t beat the price ($1.19 here in Nashville). I try to make a trip to TJ’s about once every other month and stock up on essentials like pizza dough (it’s perfectly fine to put it in the freezer and then thaw out the day you will use it). And I will say that not only can you use the dough for making pizzas and calzones, but they are great to make into breadsticks to go along with soup in the winter.
To make a vegan veggie pizza, here’s what I do:
1- Preheat the oven to 400* and grease a medium sized pizza pan with a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
2- Pat the dough in your hands and pull from each side to stretch it out, and then spread it out onto your pizza pan.
3- Add the sauce of your choice (we generally buy jarred organic pasta sauce from either Kroger, TJ’s or Whole Foods . . . sometimes you can get it for $2.19 a jar at Kroger and all of the ingredients are ingredients that are real).
4- Cut up veggies of your choice and sprinkle randomly over the sauce . . . our veggie pizza staples are onion (cut into thin, long slices), multi-colored bell peppers (cut into thin, long slices), and tomatoes (cut thin) to layer on top. Sometimes we add mushrooms, but those are only for nights we feel a little crazy and step outside of the norm.
5- Slice up some Kalamata olives and sprinkle all over.
6- Shake a little salt, a little cracked pepper, and either an Italian herb blend or simple oregano other the entire pizza. If you have fresh basil, go ahead and cut some of that up and spread it over the pizza.
7- Toss it in the oven for 10-15 minutes (depending how crispy or soft you like your crust).
8- Eat and serve with a side salad.
For Jack’s pizza, we tend to go a much simpler route (because he is 4 and a very picky eater). I generally break the dough in half and put the other half in the freezer for another night. I grease the pizza pan, work out the dough in my hands and spread it onto the pan. I add the sauce (and I try to opt for a sauce that specifically has some kind of extra veggie, like a sauce with bell peppers or mushrooms). Then I top it with mozzarella cheese . . . or almond cheese which still has casein in it so it’s not vegan, but seems a bit better for him than the mozzarella. I bake it anywhere from 10-15 minutes and serve his with cut up apples or a side of applesauce.
Here again, if you are not into the whole vegan thing (I get it, I really do) and just want to make a good, meaty or cheesy pizza . . . just follow the first few steps and then add your preferred toppings. Or if you are a super meat lover and want to try inserting a veggie option in every now and then, try this, you won’t be disappointed (unless you are, then in which case, I can’t help you there; I can just vouch that we like it)!