Everyone loves pizza, yes? No? Wait, what? OK … I get it. I mean honestly I was never a big fan of pizza when I was a kid. I didn’t like pepperoni and loathed melted cheese, so it only made sense that I wouldn’t like American-made pizza. Yes, it’s a sad story but I was that kid at the pizza-party birthdays that never ate. I was that kid who never got excited about the token pizza party on the last day of school. Yup. I also didn’t like mashed potatoes or whip cream, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyhoo, the first time I actually had a piece—oh, pardon me to all the New Yorkers reading this post … a “slice”—that I liked was in college. There’s this (apologies in advance if you’re reading this Mr. Zeer or Mr. Fischer) little hole-in-the-wall joint on the University of Oregon campus that serves pizza by the slice. You walk in, order it, and they pretty much hand it to you right away—a super-thin slice of melt-in-your-mouth crust, dripping with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. You take your slice, which is actually HUGE, to your little chair, cover it with grated parmesan, fold it, and eat it. And you swoon. Yes, it is that good. Oh sure, they have pepperoni too, but I mean why?
I literally remember that moment like it was yesterday. And from that moment on, I knew I would never (OK, except for a few drunken college nights) eat Domino’s again. Just like that, I liked pizza. Who knew.
As I’ve gotten older and have had many occasions to eat pizza, I’ve learned that just like anything else, there is no one way to make a “pie.” I prefer no sauce, thin crust, simplicity. And when I was in Italy, I got my fair samplings of just that. Caveat, while margarita pizza is hands-down my favorite, I won’t ever turn down a slice of Napoli Piazza, yes, the one with anchovies. Here, are my favorites that you can make at home—make them vegan, or not, up to you. Enjoy!
A note about the cheese: Yes, I used buffalo mozzarella. Yes, the kind that comes from a buffalo, what? You didn’t know that? Truthfully, neither did I for a long time. Anyway, it’s lactose content is lower than cows milk and so long as you purchase one with the DOP stamp, you know it’s locally grown, processed and packaged, and made using traditional methods. So there’s that. Also, try using Tofutti’s ricotta and Violife’s mozzarella. I find using just a little bit of the buffalo mozzarella combined with these two vegan products works amazingly : )
A note about the sauce: Everyone differs a little here, I don’t like sauce so I just use crushed tomatoes, but you do you and know you can add it to any version you want—these are just suggestions.
A note about the crust: OK, yes. I’d love to make it from scratch and add in some rosemary and garlic, alas, I just don’t always have the time so I use Wewalka’s bistro crust. Tip, I bake it for 3-4 minutes before adding my toppings.
- Wewalka bistro crust (or your own homemade)
- Buffalo mozzarella, 1-2 balls depending on how much you make
- Tofutti’s Milk-free Better than Ricotta
- Violife’s mozzarella shreds
- Artichoke hearts
- Red peppers
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Anchovies : )
- Vegan sausage crumbles, there’s so many good ones!!
- Red sauce of your choosing
- IF YOU MUST, turkey pepperoni NOTE, yes, I did make one with turkey pepperoni for the non-believers (LOL) but I used vegan cheese so I felt OK about that.
I’m not going to tell you how to combine your ingredients, because like I said above, there is no one way. But I will tell you four things that made all the difference in the world:
- Cook your pizza crust for 3-4 minutes if its thin, or 5-6 if it’s thick, BEFORE you put the sauce and toppings on.
- Saute your veggies with garlic and a little olive oil rather than layering them raw.
- Resist the urge to overload it, it will only get soggy if you do.
- Drizzle it with olive oil when serving for an authentic taste.