Pizza is hands down, one of our favorite foods to eat around here. So, every Friday we celebrate with pizza night! We look forward to it every week, and it has become our family tradition.
When I first went vegan, I thought I could never enjoy pizza again. Back then, there weren’t many options while dining out, and I would have to order a pie without cheese. I received many strange looks, but I didn’t care…I would just load up the pie with delicious toppings. Well now, many restaurants serve pizza with vegan cheese. So much has changed and it just keeps getting better. Life is good!
I’m definitely happy that pizza places are now recognizing the growing vegan community, but the one thing I still miss, is a really good pizza crust. That’s always been a thing for me, even before I went vegan. I guess I’m a pizza crust snob. I like the crust crispy, but still soft and not too thick or thin. Apparently, the water has something to do with a perfect crust, too. I believe it because, a few years ago, our water filter broke on pizza night. Gasp! Nick ran to the store and came back with a bottle of Aqua Panna and we used that instead. Oh boy, was that the best pizza we’d ever made, and they were already pretty darn good.
The homemade pizza journey, all started when Nick and I first met. I told him how much I missed New York style pizza. We were able to get vegan pizza in Los Angeles, but the crust was usually a disappointment. We became determined to make our own delicious vegan pizza crust. A New York style one, of course! The very first one, was a complete nightmare and kind of tasted like baking soda. Well, we’ve come along way since then and we really perfected this crust recipe..and now, we would love to share it with everyone. This isn’t a gluten-free crust, but I am working on that right now. That’s been a little of a challenge for me. I used organic all-purpose flour for this recipe. Sometimes, I use sprouted flour and it’s not as tasty, but still pretty good.
This pizza is topped with cashew mozzarella cheese. It’s rich, creamy and tastes divine! This isn’t the melty stretchy kind, but it’s delicious. (I will be sharing a stretchy pizza cheese in a future post.) You will never miss cheese again after having this. Sometimes I use macadamia nuts instead, and it tastes just as wonderful. Raw organic macadamia nuts, are hard to find and also quite expensive. So, I usually go with the cashews. I spoon on the cashew mozzarella after the pizza comes out of the oven. Otherwise, it gets too dry.
I do make my own pizza sauce, but I don’t always have it ready and the pizza must go on! So, I’ll use my favorite store-bought sauce. Feel free to do the same. This pizza is topped with baby bella mushrooms and fresh basil. (add the basil after the pizza comes out) Some of our other favorites are; capers, olives, caramelized onions, arugula, vegan sausage, pineapple, bell peppers, tomatoes, thin-sliced potatoes and the list can go on forever. The crushed red pepper is a must, too. I like my pizza with some heat! Get creative and have fun!
O.k, who’s ready for this?
The cheese can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees (yup, as hot as it goes).
- Pour the water in a small pot. Heat to roughly 105-110 degrees ( just enough to barely notice it’s hot to the touch, usually just a couple of minutes on medium heat). Once heated, add the 2 tbsp of sugar and the yeast packet and let sit for 7-10 minutes (if you don’t see bubbling/foam in 10 minutes, try again with a different package of yeast and make sure the water is not too hot).
- In a separate bowl add the flour, salt and garlic powder. Mix well. Once the yeast mixture is ready, add it to the bowl along with the olive oil. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. If your dough is too sticky, you can add a couple tbsp of flour so, it is easy to handle. Ball it up in the bowl and cover with a wet napkin or hand towel for 15-20 minutes.
- Now, get your pizza tray or large cutting board ready. You’ll need to place a large piece of parchment paper on top of it. Dust the parchment paper with flour, so you can spread your dough easily.
- Once the dough has risen, spread it across the parchment paper into a round pizza shape. Spread the dough pretty thin because it will rise. Add the sauce and spread it evenly across with a spoon.
- To season your crust, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs. You can use crushed rosemary, thyme, oregano or basil. OR, if you’re a garlic fan, you can crush 2-3 cloves, depending on their size. Mix the crushed garlic, with about a 1/4 cup of olive oil and use a pastry brush to pick up the garlic. Distribute evenly all around the crust. (if you choose the garlic method, skip the olive oil from the previous method) Remember to add salt and herbs to the crust, after the garlic.
- Add your toppings, but hold the basil & cheese…that goes on after the pizza is cooked.
- Now, place the pizza in the oven by grabbing your parchment paper by one end and sliding onto the oven racks. ( I use a pizza tray to move the pizza to the racks) The pizza cooks faster and it’s crispier when cooked on the parchment paper. If you prefer, you can cook on the tray, but let it cook on the racks for the last 5 minutes, so it gets crispy and remember to line tray with parchment.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes (until the crust is at a desired crispness) Careful not to burn it…at 500 degrees, this pizza cooks fast.
- Rinse cashews and discard water. Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. (about 2-3 minutes) Scrape down sides a couple of times. You can add a bit more water, if needed. Add a pinch more salt if needed.
- After you pizza is fully cooked, add as much cashew cheese and fresh basil that your heart desires. Enjoy!