Tuesday, July 17, 2012


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I ask you-- does that pizza look good or what?  It WAS good, and that is high praise from me, because I am very picky about pizza.  (I like traditional Italian-style pizza-- no pineapple!-- with homemade sauce and crust.) So, let me confess that I was actually a bit surprised at how good it was.  It was from a new book that I have been wanting to review for a long time, but other projects kept getting in the way.  And, truth be told, we haven't been eating much pizza lately because we're trying to watch our calories.  But I really wanted to review it-- Mark is a great guy and he worked hard for 5 years to come up with an amazing 100+ plant-based AND fat-free pizzas to please vegans who don't use oils and fats, and their (probably skeptical) families. So I had to make the sacrifice and eat pizza last week!

The book is Heart Healthy Pizza; Over 100 Plant-Based Recipes for the Most Nutritious Pizza in the World, by Mark Sutton and is a great addition to any vegan's cookbook shelf.  First, Mark gives you the "foundation" techniques and recipes-- how to make the dough and some helpful tips and 11 whole grain dough recipes (including some gluten-free varieties); tips for topping an saucing the dough and 18 unique sauce recipes (divided into red, white and green); and then the  impressive 51 "No Nonsense Non-Cheeses" in Chapter 3! Chapter 4 is chock-full of clever suggestions for toppings, fillings, and combos, including  recipes for a Parmesan sub, tempeh "anchovies", tofu "feta", TVP sausage, and a method for pre-roasting vegetables without fat in the oven for a juicy topping.

Check out Mark's website to learn more about the book, try sample recipes, etc..

When finally I embarked on my pizza-making foray, I decided to stick with my traditional pizza values (this time, anyway) and make the Whole Wheat Dough on p. 15 and the Classic Tomato Sauce (p. 25), for a start.  I planned to use oven-roasted bell pepper and mushrooms with some fresh basil for a simple topping.  My dilemma was choosing one of the creamy "non-cheeses" from Chapter 3, which is the longest chapter in the book.  I scanned the recipes in this chapter a carefully, looking for a sauce that a.) sounded tasty and familiar and b.) contained ingredients that I had in the house.  The recipes in this chapter are divided into various grain-based sauces (barley, millet, oat, quinoa and rice), legume-based sauce, tofu-based sauces, and vegetable-based sauces.  I chose to make the Rice, Cannellini Beans, and Almonds Sauce on p. 67.  I admit that I was a little skeptical about the dry mustard in it, and decided to skip the optional hot sauce, but it sounded like it had definite possibilities.

The white, creamy sauce was easy to make (I used the Vita-Mix, but the book suggests a food processor) and I made it ahead of time and refrigerated it until  it was time to use it.  Next I made the dough, using the optional oil and salt.  Mark prefers to knead it in an automatic bread machine.  I've done this before and it works beautifully, but this time I was rushing out the door and had only a few minutes to make it.  So I took some liberties and used an almost-no-knead method (even though the dough is firmer than the usual no-knead type), kneading the dough by hand in the bowl for only a minute and leaving it in a covered bowl on the kitchen counter for about 5 hours.  This long, slow rise develops the gluten as if it had been kneaded in the old way, and also develops a flavorful dough.  (Sorry, Mark, for departing from the exact technique, but it worked really well both times I made it!)

When I got back home I made the Classic Tomato sauce (a double recipe, since I had a 28 oz. can of tomatoes).  It is a full-flavored sauce, what I would call a "winter" sauce.  Made with fresh tomatoes, it would have been lighter-- I'll try that when I have some decent fresh tomatoes.

I followed Mark's directions for baking, but I used a large cast iron skillet (preheated with the oven) instead of a baking sheet or pizza pan. I used my own method of stretching the dough to make two thin-crust "personal" pizzas.  The result?  As you can see from the pictures below, great-looking pizza, and you will have to take my word for it that it was just as delicious!  Bravo, Mark!

I used a squeeze-bottle to apply the cheesey sauce over the tomato sauce, avoiding  "blobs" or having the two sauces run into eachother.
I added some thin slices of fresh basil from a pot on my deck, and then topped it off with the juicy oven-roasted bell peppers and mushrooms (you can roast the veggies while the oven is preheating):

 Baking the pizza in a large cast iron skillet, transferring the pizza using baking parchment:

The result!



Anonymous said...

oooh that looks incredible! i love the cheeze swirl! :)

radioactivegan said...

That pizza looks really delicious! I wish I hadn't already had dinner :)

Anonymous said...

I love this book and have made several of Mark's recipes to great effect. Nice review

Southern Purple Veggie said...

This looks delicious!

Betsy DiJulio said...

You had me at the description of all of the different kinds of "cheese" sauces! I thought I was pretty well versed in vegan cheese sauces, but grain-based? Who knew? Thanks for enlightening and inspiring me!