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.

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