When it comes to planning a menu for a Super Bowl Party, folks on a plant-based diet have it easy. So many wonderful possibilities from chili to veggie burgers, from hummus to black bean dip to guacamole. Dig in. This year I’m planning to serve our favorite food in the whole world: pizza.
I wish I knew the exact number of pizzas that Matt and I have consumed together. We’ve been married for 30 years, and together for two years before that. On average, we’ve probably had a pizza a week. Yes, there were some weeks we didn’t eat pizza, but there were many times when we were traveling or on vacation that we ate pizza almost every day. So if my math is correct, that comes to around 1,664 pizzas. That number seems low to me.
Switching to a plant-based diet, the biggest adjustment for us was changing up our pizza. No more sausage and no more cheese. That left us just a crust and some sauce. Pretty devastating. There are still times, I admit, when we fall off the wagon and order a veggie pizza with half the amount of cheese, thinking that it’s only partially cheating if your pizza only has partial cheese. But we’re making progress. I’ve spent a lot of time playing around with various vegetable toppings (broccoli on a pizza is just plain wrong) and I’ve finally come up with a pizza that we both agree is hearty and meaty and satisfying. No cheese needed.
I start with vegan pizza dough from Trader Joe’s. I used to make my own pizza dough, but TJ’s dough is ready to roll out, comes in white and whole wheat, and sells for $1.29. It’s just so easy. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s in your area, there are lots of good pizza dough recipes available on the internet. The other product I use is Gardein Meatless Ground. It’s a soy-based meat substitute with the look and texture of ground beef, and it’s wonderful for pizza, tacos, chili, stuffed peppers, etc. It is a little bland-tasting right out of the bag, so you’ll want to add salt and spices. In addition to the meatless ground, our toppings usually include roasted garlic and red peppers, onions, mushrooms, capers and kalamata olives. (And jalapeños for Matt.)
The list of possible pizza toppings is endless. Sometimes I’ll use vegan pesto as a base instead of red sauce, with a wild-mushroom medly on top. Our favorite pizza place, North Fork Brewery, makes a fantastic vegan Greek pizza drizzled with balsamic vinegar syrup. With all these amazing combinations, I’m looking forward to our next 1,664 pizzas!
- pizza dough (I use Trader Joe’s whole wheat dough)
- pizza sauce (I use Contadina’s)
- 1 13-oz package of Gardein meatless ground
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning spice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 oz sliced mushrooms
- 1 onion, sliced
- 6 cloves of garlic, halved
- 15 kalamata olives, halved
- 1 red pepper, roasted, seeded and sliced (I used jarred roasted red pepper)
- 1 tablespoon capers
- garnish with basil and a drizzle of olive oil
- Remove pizza dough from fridge and let it sit on a floured cutting board for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a skillet, heat one package of meatless ground and toss with salt and Italian seasoning. (Or any other spices you like.) If you don’t use it all on your pizza, save the rest in a baggie for another meal.
- I like to pre-cook the vegetables a bit. In a large baking pan, combine mushrooms, onion and garlic and toss with olive oil. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
- Turn up the oven to 425 degrees and preheat your pizza stone, if you have one.
- Roll out pizza dough to a 13 inch circle, about the same size as a pizza stone.
- Brush dough with olive oil and use a fork to poke holes across the surface to help prevent air bubbles. Bake crust on a stone or pizza pan for two minutes then remove from oven.
- Top with sauce and meatless ground and veggies and then bake for another 5-6 minutes. Let pizza cool for a few minutes before eating, if you can.