Meatless Monday: Pizza, Please!

Meatless Monday: Pizza, Please!

This Meatless Monday, skip the meat lovers deluxe and make a veggie-loaded pizza that your family will love.

Pizza is probably the best thing ever invented, no? Crisp crust, spicy tomato sauce, gooey cheese, and any toppings you please, a good pizza can take you to Naples and back in a single bite.

While the classic Italian pizza brings to mind fresh basil and mozzarella (You just read that in an Italian accent, didn’t you?) the modern day pizza is open for interpretation. It’s therefore a great meal to cook for company, even for those who have different dietary restrictions.

Does someone have a gluten allergy? No problem. Gluten-free pizza crusts are readily available at your local natural health food store. Lactose intolerant? No worries. There are many lactose-free “cheeses” available too. Vegan? That one’s easy. Swap out dairy cheese with a tofu “ricotta” mixture and load up the veggies.

This Meatless Monday, skip the meat lovers deluxe and make a veggie-loaded pizza that your family will love.

Show me the … dough!
Underneath all that cheesy, saucy goodness is a pizza base that must be crisp, though not hard, and chewy, though not mushy. This pizza dough recipe has those qualities, plus it’s made with nutritionally rich whole wheat flour and is dairy free (so it’s great for vegans, too!).

Basic Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (via Mairlyn Smith’s “Homemade and Wholesome Pizza”)
You need a large food processor for this recipe, which can be doubled if you need extra dough.

1/4 cup (60 mL) warm water
1 Tbsp (15 mL) whole wheat flour
1 package (8 g) or 2 1/4 tsp (11 mL) traditional active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1/2 cup (125 mL) warm water
1 Tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
Up to 1/4 cup (60 mL) additional whole wheat flour (if needed)

Using either a mini-whisk or fork, whisk together water, flour, and yeast. Cover and place in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes, or until foamy.

Place flour and salt into bowl of food processor. Pulse three times. When yeast mixture is foamy, stir and pour into flour and salt mixture. Add warm water and oil. Replace lid and pulse several times till dough starts to come together. Process for 1 minute. Add 1 Tbsp (15 mL) flour and pulse for 20 seconds.

Add another 1 Tbsp (15 mL) flour and process for 1 minute. The dough will have formed into a ball. If the ball of dough is very sticky, add up to 2 more Tbsp (30 mL) flour and process for 1 minute.

Remove dough from food processor and knead on lightly floured counter for about 2 minutes or until dough looks smooth. Place dough back into bowl of processor, cover and place in a warm spot. Proof (the baking term meaning to let rise) for 1 1/4 hours. When dough has risen, remove from bowl and stretch into size.

Tip: Microwave 1 cup (250 mL) water on high power for 90 seconds. Place dough in bowl of food processor, uncovered, into microwave and close the door. This way, the microwave acts as a mini proofing oven.

While the dough is proofing, preheat the pizza stone. If you aren’t using one, preheat oven to 450 F (220 C) for at least 10 minutes before baking to make sure the oven is really hot.

Top it up!
So the crust is all figured out, but what do you put on top? Try a combination of the following tasty vegetarian toppings, or add some of your own favourites.

  • pesto, nut cheese spreads, or tapenade
  • artichoke hearts
  • roasted red peppers or bell peppers
  • all types of mushrooms
  • alliums (onions, shallots, scallions, or garlic)
  • all kinds of olives
  • vegetarian ground round
  • thinly sliced potatoes
  • asparagus
  • pineapple
  • spinach, arugula, or kale

Not feeling very creative? Try out one of these four vegetarian pizzas from the alive kitchen.

When you’ve topped your pizza bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Using baker’s peel, slide pizza off the stone or remove pizza pan. Place onto chopping board and cut into equal slices.

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