Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

pesto pizza

August 24, 2014 By

I’ve been wanting to make a pizza with a pesto base for quite some time now. However, I just couldn’t seem to come up with ideal toppings for the pizza. I had found myself in a rut, using the same ingredients as toppings over and over. I decided to put off posting the recipe until I came up with the answer.

A week ago, we went to Clearwater, FL to celebrate Matt’s birthday with his parents. Matt’s mom, Gail, loves to cook, and she made him a spectacular dinner for his birthday. On the menu was this to-die-for fennel, red onion, and olive salad. The rest of the family had their salad topped with sea scallops, but even without, mine was incredible.

An Instagram photo of Matt’s birthday dinner. The winning salad is on the bottom left.

I kept thinking about that salad. I thought about it for the next week. I’m not a fan of fennel, or olives for that matter. Nonetheless, I kept thinking about how perfect it was.

It suddenly clicked that this winning salad combination might be my answer to my pesto base pizza woes. I acquired the recipe from Gail, put it on top of the pizza, and the result was out of this world. I always say this, but this time, I mean it; this is my new favorite pizza. Shh… don’t tell the others.

 

Fennel Salad Pizza with Pesto Base

Prep Time: 30-45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: One pizza pie

 

Ingredients

For the Gluten-Free Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the Fennel Salad:

  • 5-6 fennel stalks OR 1 head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup red onion, rinsed with cold water to reduce raw harshness
  • 1 cup Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 tbs fresh or dried tarragon
  • 2 tbs fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed

For the Pesto Base:

  • 1-2 handfuls of fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1 handful of raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Step 1: Make the fennel salad.

The fennel salad needs to marinate for 20 minutes, so I think this should be numero uno.

I bought my olives at Whole Foods at their olive bar. Start by placing the olives in between sheets of parchment paper.  Mash the olives with the palms of your hand. If it hurts your hand too much, a potato masher will probably do the trick. Once all the olives are mashed, remove the pits, separate the olives into smaller bits with your hands, and place in a bowl.

mashed

mashed

Ready!

Ready!

Next, chop up the red onion. Once chopped, place the red onion in a strainer, rinse off with cold water, and add it to the bowl of olives. Raw red onion is extremely harsh and has quite a bite to it, so we don’t need that type of drama here.

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My knives are an embarrassment to the world of cooking, as I am a starving artist. Therefore, I had to pulse my fennel in the food processor to chop it properly. Hopefully, you don’t have these problems and can cut your fennel like a normal human being. Nevertheless, feel free to use my method.

The three caballeros.

The three caballeros.

Place the rest of the salad ingredients into the bowl. Mix and set aside. Let it marinate for at least 20 minutes.

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Step 2: Prepare the gluten-free pizza crust. (optional)

Not everyone needs to make a gluten-free pizza crust. Not everyone wants to make a gluten-free pizza crust. However, if you do, I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill’s website has provided the best recipe. View it here. (Substitute 1 tbs flax seed meal & 3 tbs warm water (mixed) for the egg to make it vegan.)

Your pizza crust should look like this when complete:

Pre precook

Pre precook

Gluten-free crust needs to be pre-cooked before adding any base or toppings to it. At 425º, cook the pizza crust for 7 minutes. Set aside.

 

Step 3: Food process the pesto base.

This is the easy part, and it’s the perfect thing to do while you’re waiting for your gluten-free crust to precook. Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until creamy. Garlic bits are graciously accepted.

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Step 4: Spread pesto base on pizza crust and bake.

Scoop the pesto with a spoon, then use the back of the spoon to smooth out the pesto throughout the crust.

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Bake in the oven at 425º for another 5-7 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

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Why bake the pesto, you ask? I think it gives the garlic a roast-y taste, which I like.

Step 5: Strain the marinade and scoop contents on top of pizza.

Straining the marinade is crucial. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck with the most greasy pizza of all time, and that’s not what we’re about here. Just stick it in a colander, let the oil drip out for a few minutes, and scoop the remaining salad on top of the pizza.

pizza

I’d be surprised if you’ve had anything like this pizza before. It tastes so fresh. One thing I really like about this pizza is that the need for tons of salt is minimal, as the parsley and lemon take care of that. It throws so many flavors at you at once, but they all seem to complement each other so nicely. These flavors really have seemed to taken a liking to each other and get along so well. I think they’ll be friends for a long time to come, and my mouth isn’t complaining.

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If you’re interested on trying any of my other pizzas, take a look at the following:

If you happen to try making this pizza and are on Instagram, take a picture of it and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can take a peek. I’d love to see how it worked out for you. Don’t forget to add me on Facebook, too, as I post all my blog updates on there.

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

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Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

Post drizzle

July 1, 2014 By

I love experimenting with vegan pizza. This is my fourth pizza on the blog, officially making pizza the most versatile dish ever. It’s all about the base.

My other three pizzas include:

And now, the latest edition to the vegan pizza brigade: the creamy garlic base!

I’m proud of this one. The creaminess imitates the presence of cheese. I’m also thrilled by the fact that this is soy-free and free of processed ingredients!

 

Creamy Dreamy Garlic Pizza

Prep Time: about 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes (most can be done during prep time)

Yield: 8 slices

 

Ingredients

GF Pizza Crust: (see recipe here) (optional)

  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water (warm)
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs warm water
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-1/2 cups GF all-purpose baking flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Cashew Cream Base/Drizzle:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled (or soaked in water for 8 hours)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8-1/4 cup water (depending on how thick you want it. I opted for 1/4 cup.)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Pizza Toppings:

  • 4oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 10 grape tomatoes
  • 1 small handful of arugula
  • 1 small handful of pine nuts

 

STEP 1: Make the pizza crust or knead your dough. 

For all the glutards out there (don’t worry, guys… I’m a part of the community, so it’s cool), I have provided a great gluten-free recipe hereIt’s from Bob’s Red Mill’s website. I have tried more than a handful of different pizza crust recipes, and that one is by far my favorite one.

GF pizza crust works way differently in terms of how it’s handled. Regular dough requires kneading to spread it onto a pizza pan. GF pizza crust is more of a smoothing process, as the dough doesn’t “bounce back” like normal dough does. A great tip for smoothing the GF dough onto a pan is to keep your hands wet.  This prevents your fingers from transforming into those of a dough monster.

GF crust needs to go through a preliminary cooking stage before any toppings go on. Place the crust in the oven at 425 degrees for 7 minutes. Take out and set aside.

 

Pre precook

Pre precook

Post precook

Post precook

 

STEP 2: Prepare toppings that need to be cooked down beforehand.

After the mushrooms and onions are chopped, let them simmer in the coconut oil until they are sweating, which will take 5-7 minutes on medium heat. Spritz them with lemon juice during the last minute. Set aside.

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STEP 3: Prepare the cashew cream. 

This is a great step to tackle while Step 1 and 2 are cooking.

If you did not soak your cashews and have a very strong food processor or milling device (I use my Nutribullet milling blade. A coffee grinder will probably work, too.), mill the cashews and garlic before adding the rest of the ingredients. Mix until creamy and smooth.

If you did soak the cashews, drain the cashews and mix well in the food processor with the garlic. Once the cashews are completely liquified, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix until creamy and smooth.

If you want a thick cream, opt for 1/8 cup of water. I wanted my base to be the consistency of a drizzle, so I measured out 1/4 cup instead. It’s all about preference.

 

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

Milled garlic and cashews: The Bold and the Beautiful

 

STEP 4: Put the crust with base and precooked toppings in the oven.

Start with pouring the cashew cream on the crust and spreading it to the edges. Make sure to save some for the drizzle at the end! Sprinkle on the mushroom/onion mixture as the topping. Place in the oven for 6-7 minutes at the same temperature.

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STEP 5: Chop and prepare raw toppings. 

I love mixing fresh, raw toppings with cooked toppings on pizza! Grape tomatoes and arugula worked very well with this recipe. Complete this step while your base is still cooking.

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STEP 6: Once the base is done cooking, dress up the rest of your pizza! 

Add on the tomatoes and arugula, along with pine nuts and drizzle. Slice it up and enjoy!

Pre drizzle

Pre drizzle

Post drizzle

Post drizzle

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So, I went to sit down in front of the TV to relish this tasty lunch I made when I found THIS. TWO SLEEPY BEEPY BABIES.

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Be still my heart.

 

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Mexican Pizza

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July 7, 2013 By

Do you want a dish that will make even the biggest vegan skeptics begging you for more? Look no further than this Mexican Pizza!

This is adapted from Vegan Richa, who has incredible recipe ideas! (Thank you!)

I adore this recipe because it’s really easy. It’s unlike any kind of pizza most people have ever tasted. You can make it as mild -or hot- as you want. I’ve made this pizza for almost every non-vegan I know and they always seem blown away at how delicious and flavorful it is.

In fact, I’ve made it so many times that I’ve kind of made my own adaptations to the recipe.

 

Mexican Pizza

Soak Time: 8 hours/overnight

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1-2 pizza dough balls

1 can of refried beans (I do Old El Paso Fat Free refried beans, as it is the only one without lard)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 red onion

1-2 avocado

1-2 tbs olive oil

1/2 lime, squeezed

a small bunch of kale, chopped

salt/pepper to taste

 

Lemon & Lime Crema Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours/overnight

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 garlic cloves

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1/2 lime, squeezed

lemon/lime zest

 

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spread your pizza dough out on your cooking pan. Spread the refried beans on top of the dough. Place in the oven when ready. It should cook for about 20 minutes.

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STEP 2: Create your lemon/lime crema. Drain your soaked cashews and place them in a food processor. Slowly fill up your food processor with water until it barely covers the top of your cashews. Turn your food processor on high. It might be a few minutes until they  become creamy.

After that, mix in your other ingredients. It may seem like a ton of flavor now, but you’ll thank me later when it’s on top of the pizza! Place in the refrigerator to cool.

 

Soaked cashews.

Soaked cashews.

 


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STEP 3: Prepare your pizza toppings. In a bowl, combine the fruits/vegetables, oil, juice, and seasonings into the bowl and mix.

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STEP 4: By this time, your dough should be ready! Take out the dough, spread out your toppings, and pour the Lemon/Lime crema on top!

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STEP 5: Get to this thing as fast as possible before it’s all gone.

 

I LOVE to smother the heck out of this bad boy with hot sauce. It pairs so well with the coolness of the Lemon/Lime crema.

 

I’m drooling just looking at this thing. Stop what you’re doing right now and make this insanely tasty pizza!

 

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

 

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Easy Ricotta Pizza

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June 20, 2013 By

Tonight, I was entertaining some new guests. I am in the process of switching gears from a 1st grade teacher to a 3rd grade teacher. *gasp from an entire audience* …it’s almost that dramatic. You non-educators out there may be thinking, “… uh, so?” It doesn’t sound like a big change, but trust me, it’s a big deal for us teachers.

So, in order for my new 3rd grade team to plan a bit and bond, we decided to meet up a few times this summer. I offered to host our first get-together.

My night of entertaining was a bit of a challenge: All of my guests are non-vegan and I don’t know them well-enough to know their likes and dislikes. After some thought, I decided to go with something that everyone on planet Earth loves: pizza. Pizza is like, well, you know; when it’s bad, it’s still good. (Trying to keep this blog somewhat clean. Ugh, it’s not easy.)

Anyway, we had a great time. The pizza takes less than an hour from start to finish, and it’s delicious! Plus, people will be curious about the vegan ricotta cheese, and you know it’s fun to talk vegan to people. 😉

 

Giant Easy Ricotta Pizza

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 dough balls (from your local bakery)
  • 1 jar of Classico bruschetta
  • 1 ball of ricotta cheese (see recipe for Homemade Ricotta Cheese)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 cup of green onions
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Start working with your dough.You’ll get the best results from your dough if you let it defrost in the fridge for a day, but honestly, I was in a time crunch and started rolling it out within the hour I bought it, and it was just fine. I bought my dough balls from Publix.

The products in this meal that gives this recipe it's "easy" name.

The products in this meal that gives this recipe its “easy” name.

 

 

Step 2: Begin by kneading the dough to flatten it out, followed by alternating between rolling out the dough with a rolling pin and stretching it out with your hands. I like to place the dough on top of my fists and stretch it out that way, rotating the dough in a circle.

Place the dough on a greased pizza pan or tray. Spread it out on your pan to desired shape and crust formation.

 

Step 3: Open your jar of bruschetta and spread it around your dough with the back of a spoon.

 

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The bruschetta makes a great base. It’s garlicky, chunky, full of flavor, and eliminates me having to cut up some tomatoes!

 

 

Step 4: Begin to wilt the spinach by heating up a skillet with olive oil to medium heat. Throw the spinach and garlic on the skillet and let it heat up between 1-2 minutes.

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From start…

 

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… to finish.

 

 

 

Step 5: Add spinach, ricotta, salt, and pepper to your pizza. To give my crust a crunchy outside and a fluffy inside, I spray/rub the crust with olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt on top of it… mmmmm.

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Step 6: Put it in the oven and whatta ya got?

 

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Twenty minutes (or so) later, you have delicious, easy ricotta pizza! Garnish with green onions.

 

Now you’ve got a vegan pizza that all mouths can enjoy.

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

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