When I asked my Son what he wanted as a New Year’s supper, he responded like any self-respecting four-year-old: ”PIZZA!” I responded like any whole foodist at home for the Holidays: I made the whole damn thing from scratch. The result is this awesome vegan pizza that little ones and not so little ones will both adore. Warning – it does take time, both active and passive, so it’s a labour of love best saved for special occasions.
If you aren’t up for turning your kitchen into a pizza parlour, then the bits and pieces that make up these pies can be used individually in a variety of ways. The basil-olive tapenade works as a sandwich or cracker spread, a veggie dip or a quick pasta sauce. Meanwhile, the creamy cashew béchamel is great on nachos, as an Alfredo sauce, baked over grain-stuffed anything or to make a scalloped potato casserole. And the pizza dough? Use the same recipe, cut the dough into 8 parts, roll them super-thin and slap them on a pizza stone 3 or 4 minutes (same heat as for crust) to make some pita-type flatbreads.
Yield: 3 pizzas, each approximately an 8”x4” ovoid
What you need for the sourdough crust (yes, the ingredients for the crust are by mass rather than by volume, just trust me when I say that it’s worth it to go metric when it comes to anything bread):
- 500g whole spelt or white whole wheat flour
- 265g water
- 30g olive oil
- 20g sourdough culture
- 9g sea salt
- 3 additional teaspoons olive oil, to bake
What you do for the crust:
- Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook. Knead 4 or 5 minutes.
- Place the dough in an oiled glass or ceramic bowl and cover. Ferment 16-24 hours in winter (no need to use a proofing chamber, room temperature works fine), until doubled in bulk (maybe a bit more). If making this in the heat of summer, fermentation will likely be more in the 10-12 hour range.
- Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500F. Make sure the stone has time to heat through, this usually takes about half an hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and cut it in three. Cover the dough and let it rest 10-15 minutes.
- Flour the balls lightly and shape each one into an 8”x4” ovoid by pulling lightly on the outside edge. The outer rim should be a little thicker. Drizzle the surface of each pizza with a teaspoon of olive oil and spread it out evenly.
- Transfer the pizzas (one at a time if necessary) to the stone and set the dough by baking for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and cool. The pizzas are now ready to top. If desired, the crusts can be cooled completely at this point and then well-wrapped and frozen for future use. To use a frozen crust, thaw 2-3 hours at room temperature and then top and bake according to recipe instructions.
What you need for the Basil-Olive Tapenade:
- 40g chopped basil, 1 packed cup of chopped leaves
- 250g sliced Kalamata olives, 1 cup sliced
- 100g roasted and peeled chestnuts, 3/4 cup whole peeled chestnuts (roasting and peeling chestnuts is a royal pain in the bottom – save yourself time and swearing – buy the pre-prepared ones…)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
What you do for the Tapenade:
- Put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process/blend until completely smooth and creamy.
- This makes about 2 cups, enough for 5-6 pizzas. Feel free to half the recipe if desired, or keep the extra in the fridge for the week.
What you need for the Cashew Béchamel:
- 1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- 3 sundried tomatoes, soaked a couple of hours until soft, drained, and chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional; they can be soaked along with the cashews if desired)
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon white (shiro) miso
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon besan (chickpea flour)
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
What you do for the Béchamel:
- Put all the ingredients except for the sundried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of the water in a blender and process until completely smooth and creamy. It may take several minutes – make sure that no graininess remains from the cashews – you want a sauce that’s silky smooth.
- Transfer to a small saucepan and let sit an hour or two, more if desired, so that the besan thickens the sauce and begins to lose its raw taste.
- Add the last two tablespoons of water, whisk, and heat until warm and thick and creamy. Fold in the sundried tomatoes if using and set aside.
What you need for the pizza:
- 3 prepared crusts (see above)
- 1/2 a recipe of Basil-Olive Tapenade (see above)
- 1 recipe of Cashew Béchamel (see above)
- 1 small Yukon Gold potato, sliced into slices 1/16” thick (you’ll need a mandolin, a spiralizer or some epic slicing skills)
- 1 small onion, halved and sliced into 1/8” half-moons
- 1-1/2 veggie sausage, crumbled (home-made preferred, optional)
What you do for the pizza:
- Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500F if it isn’t already that way from making the crust (above).
- Spread a layer of Basil-Olive Tapenade over the crusts. This is the sauce, dose accordingly.
- Divide the veggie sausage crumbles over the crusts, artfully sprinkling them over the surface.
- Fill the spaces between the sausage with the onion slices.
- Evenly divide the Béchamel over the three pizzas. Spread the saucy goodness over the surface of each with the back of a spoon.
- Press potato slices (all singles, no doubling) over the surface of the cashew cream.
- Bake 12 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let sit a couple of minutes before serving.