Friday Night Pizza- Gluten Free Vegan Style

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Last summer I was making pizza pretty much every Friday night. It was super easy and so delicious. In my opinion it is WAY better than ordering in. Nothing beats the hot crunchy crust that you get when it’s right out of the oven, without any sogginess from sitting in a box for 20 minutes. It costs a fraction of the price, while taking about the same amount of time (probably less). You can put like 10 toppings on it if you want to. PLUS you get the satisfaction of having made it yourself and knowing exactly what’s in it.

Of course, now that we are not eating animal products, I wondered how we would make this work or IF we could make it work (What is pizza without Cheese?!). We bought two frozen GF Vegan pizzas a few weeks back, which tasted fantastic, but they were still loaded with oil and a bunch of random ingredients that I wasn’t familiar with. And since we had to buy two to feed all of us, it wound up costing the equivalent of eating out at a decent restaurant- which just isn’t sustainable for us. After all that, I still wound up getting an unsettled stomach. So I just decided to make my own and see how it went.

After successfully using a cashew cream sauce a few weeks ago for my Vegan lasagna, I thought that just maybe it could work as a pizza topping. I was nervous to try because, even if I considered it an acceptable substitute, there are two other mouths in this house that may not agree and who have high expectations of what pizza should taste like. So I gave it a shot last Friday, preparing for the worst….and it turned out a slam dunk! The hubby was super happy with it (again, he’s my toughest critic), 3 year old didn’t notice anything different (which I consider a success), and on top of the flavor and texture being bang on, I did not get an upset tummy afterward, so I was super happy with it.

I’ve realized how important it is to attempt things in the kitchen. In life we are often so afraid of failure that we try to play safe and often times miss out on things that could have turned into an amazing adventure.  While it can be scary, and make you feel like you’ve wasted time or resources, failure is such an important part of learning, and the kitchen is no different. There have been countless times that I’ve made something for dinner and Justin a) took a bite and refused to eat another or b) ate most of it while telling me that he would be happy to never eat it again. In the beginning it was upsetting to me. No one likes to be told that they suck at cooking or baking. But it allowed me to work through the collection of things that worked and the things that didn’t. Now I feel so much more confident in my abilities and more brave to try new or weird things and the variety of food we eat now is greater than its ever been.

Chris Martin, my pal from Coldplay (He doesn’t know he’s my pal in case you were wondering), sings a great line “If you never try, you’ll never know”.  I love it in life and I love it in the kitchen. Be brave. Try something different. Try something that you wouldn’t normally do- In this case putting ground cashews on a pizza made with gluten free flours. Worst case scenario you fail: It tastes gross, you scrape the cashews off your pizza while you attempt to eat the remaining “crust”, maybe throw the last bit into the garbage before you throw up and you’ve learned that does not work and don’t do that again. But best case scenario? It tastes amazing and you feel amazed at what can be made from simple ingredients. The experience goes into your confidence box for the next time you want to try something different and perhaps along the way you inspire someone else to dive into their creativity without fearing the possibility that it just might fail. So try, and see where it goes!

INGREDIENTS:

Sauce:

  • ½ cup Passata (or 1 can of tomato paste)
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup/honey
  • ¼ tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Dried Basil
  • ½ TBSP garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt***Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix together. Taste it before putting it on your pizza. Add in anything you think is lacking to that it suits your taste (ie. More garlic, more basil etc).

Toppings:

  • I chose Peppers, red onions, chopped spinach, chopped cauliflower, pineapple and diced eggplant because that’s what I had in my fridge, but add whatever toppings you enjoy!
  • Sprinkling of Nutritional Yeast

Non-Cheese Topping:

  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 30mins- 2hours and drained
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 TBSP Nutritional Yeast
  • ½ cup vegetable broth**Simply combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Then sprinkle onto the very top of the pizza.

Crust:

  • 2 ½ Cup Flour (I used 1 cup Robin Hood GF All Purpose and the remaining Bob’s Red Mill GF All purpose)
  • 1 TBSP Cane Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 TBSP Bread Machine Yeast
  • 1 cup Hot Water
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil

METHOD:

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add in water and oil and mix with a fork until it starts to come together. Knead by hand until fully combined and smooth- about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Allow dough to rest about 10 minutes.
  3. Roll dough out into circle shape on a piece of parchment paper until desired size/thickness is reached. (I roll mine until it fits inside my pizza pan, so it ends up being about ¾ cm-1 cm thick).
  4. Take Pizza pan and place it upside down over the rolled dough. Place left hand under the parchment paper and one hand on the pizza pan and flip over so that parchment paper is on top, sandwiching the pizza dough between the parchment and pizza pan. Slowly peel parchment paper off the top of the dough to reveal your beautifully shaped pizza dough. (Note: due to the lack of gluten, the dough will seem more gritty and crumbly while still holding together quite well, but it will fall apart if you try to pick it up- so no tossing up and down in the air with this dough, unfortunately.)
  5. Proceed to “decorate” pizza with sauce and toppings, placing the non-cheese topping on the top. (I love spreading my sauce all the way to the edge of the dough. The moisture evaporates out of it in the oven and you get a punch of flavor in that last bite of crust).
  6. Bake in preheated oven set to 475F for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before digging in so that you don’t burn your tongue or the roof of your mouth.

Chocolate Brownie Cookies (GF, DF, Vegan)

IMG_0508The other day I went grocery shopping and picked up a bag of Robin Hood’s Gluten Free all purpose flour. I was pretty excited to use it and since Justin’s mom and Aunt were over entertaining the kids, it was a great chance to try out a new recipe.

So I made some double chocolate chip cookies, which turned out to be brownie-like on the inside and perfectly crispy on the outside. They were SO good. Justin ate probably half the batch on his own. We made sure that there were some left to share with his Aunt and Mom (neither are Vegan or GF) because we were certain even they would like them. While they seemed slightly hesitant to try them at first, both of them were quite surprised and said how good they were. Justin’s mom even asked to take one home with her when she left – it happened to be her birthday that day – so I gave her a little container with a bunch of them in there.

I always say to Justin “Everything is better shared”, and this recipe is no exception. It makes about 2 dozen, so there will be plenty to go around. 🙂

CHOCOLATE BROWNIE COOKIES (GF, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

INGREDIENTS:
Wet Ingredients:
– 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
– 1/3 cup maple syrup/honey
– ½ cup granulated sugar (coconut, sucanat, cane, whatever you use)
– ¼ cup water
– 2 TBSP ground flax seed

Dry Ingredients:
– 1 cup all purpose, gluten free flour (I used Robin Hood GF all purpose, which has xanthan gum in it)
– ¼ cup cocoa
– 1 tsp baking powder
– Dash of salt

Other Ingredients:
– 1 TBSP Water
– 2/3 cup chocolate chips
– drizzle of maple syrup
– olive/grapeseed oil for greasing the cookie sheets

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium-large size mixing bowl combine coconut oil, maple syrup, sugar, water and flax seed in a bowl. Mix with a whisk until unified and smooth.
  3. In the same bowl, add in flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt then mix. Add in water and mix again until water is absorbed into dough.
  4. Add in chocolate chips and drizzle dough with a little bit of maple syrup/honey. Mix again until chocolate chips and maple syrup/honey are well incorporated into the dough. (Adding a bit more of the maple syrup at the end is what will help to create the crispy outside).
  5. Grease two cookie sheets with Olive oil or Grape-seed oil. This will help to caramelize the maple syrup/honey in the dough and create the crispiness on the outside of the cookie.
  6. Drop dough onto cookie sheet using a small spoon – ( This is not technical- I don’t use measuring spoons, just the small spoons from my cutlery drawer)- they end up being about 1-inch balls that I just pat down ever so slightly.  Bake in 350F oven for 9 minutes and place on cooling rack to cool slightly before eating.

Vegetable Lasagna (GF, Vegan)

Lasagna

A few months back, we got together with my husbands family for a lasagna dinner. We didn’t know we were having lasagna, but we were thrilled considering it is one of our favourite things to eat. One interesting thing about Justin’s family is that more than half of us are either vegetarian or vegan now- so finding food to eat is never a problem. However, this time the lasagna was only vegetarian- it still had cheese. If it was just me I would have gone ahead and eaten it, but baby girl cannot have milk, and so since I am nursing- I cannot have milk. Thankfully I did bring a dish with me knowing that there was a possibility that would be the case, so all was good. But it really made me miss lasagna and so I decided to make one that is officially dairy free.

My inspiration was a mixture of Angela Liddon from “Oh she Glows” and a Vegan lasagna my girlfriend had at her wedding rehearsal dinner, which I believe her sister made. I’m not crazy about the vegan cheeses out there so I wanted to try something that wouldn’t require any. I should clarify- the vegan cheeses taste amazing (Daiya!), but they are not the healthiest choice for regular use (mostly oil). We like to save up our vegan cheese use for when we grab nachos at our new favourite place: Democracy (on Locke Street). SUCH a treat.

Anyway, I went for it and made lasagna for dinner tonight. Let me tell you- it was GOOD! For starters, you would never know it was gluten free, and second of all- if you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t even notice that it was vegan. My hubby ate 3 large pieces, and my 3 year old actually ate his whole plate (which rarely happens- especially with lasagna!), so it is safe to say that this is a keeper in our house. 🙂

I should add, I used my homemade tomato sauce recipe but if you were in a pinch or if you just had it around you could use any canned tomato sauce. Or if you have your own tomato sauce recipe, use that!

**I should also add that I had like 1/4 cup of cooked lentils leftover in my fridge from dinner the other night so I threw that into my sauce just for some extra protein**

VEGETABLE LASAGNA
Ingredients:

  • Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles (I used an oven ready brown rice noodle but if not using oven ready then you will want to cook the noodles prior- I have a small casserole dish and it used up 9 noodles, if yours is on the larger size maybe do a bit more)
  • Nutritional Yeast

White Wine Tomato Sauce:

  • Drizzle of grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1c. water
  • 1 bottle Passata (Strained Tomato Puree)
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2-3 TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 1 ½ tsp Salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 TBSP Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder (or 2 cloves fresh garlic if you have it)
  • ¼ cup White wine (plus a little extra in a glass so you can drink some while you cook)

Cashew Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for 2 hours)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ¾ veggie broth
  • Handful spinach
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Vegetable Filling

  • Drizzle of grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ crown broccoli, diced
  • ¼ head of cauliflower, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • ¼ of an eggplant, diced
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

White Wine Tomato Sauce:

  1. Heat oil in pot over medium-high heat. Add in onions and heat until just tender.
  2. Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate the onion bits into the water. It will steam and evaporate a lot of the water- that is okay and enhances the flavors even more.
  3. Add in passata and remaining ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil for 1 minute and then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for atleast 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the spies to release their flavours and to fully integrate into the sauce.

Cashew Cream Sauce:

  1. After cashews have soaked at least 2 hours, drain water and place cashews in blender with the broth, garlic, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  2. Add spinach into the blender mixture and continue to blend, again, until smooth.
  3. Set aside.

Vegetable Filling:

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat. Once heated, add in broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, eggplant and garlic powder. Allow to sit for 30 seconds and then add in water to create more moisture to steam the vegetables in the pan.
  2. Cook until just tender. If the vegetables are starting to stick to the pan or are turning brown then add in a touch more water and cook until water is evaporated.
  3. Set aside.

Putting it all together:

  1. Remove sauce from heat and then preheat oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Take one scoop of tomato sauce and spread it along the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.
  3. Layer lasagna noodles on top of the tomato sauce.
  4. Next, take half the vegetables and layer them on top of the noodles.
  5. Ladle 2-3 scoops of the tomato sauce over the vegetable layer so that they are fully covered. (You want to make sure that you have a generous amount of sauce leftover to place on the top- so if you are not good with eyeballing that kind of stuff then you may want to take that out first and set it aside in a separate bowl and then mentally divide the remaining sauce into two parts).
  6. Sprinkle a thin layer of nutritional yeast over sauce.
  7. Drizzle half of the cashew cream over the last layer. Spread evenly over the whole dish using a spatula or spoon and then lay lasagna noodles on top again.
  8. Repeat steps 4-7.
  9. After placing the last lasagna noodles atop the dish, ladle in the remaining tomato sauce. You want this layer to be fairly thick so that the edges of the noodles don’t get hard or crunchy.
  10. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast over the whole top of the casserole in whichever thickness you like.
  11. Cover in tinfoil and cook in oven, at 350F, for 1 hour, removing the tinfoil for the final 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before garnishing with spinach and sprouts and taking a picture diving in. 🙂