Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Holiday Baking: Pizza! Vegan and Gluten-free

Mmm, who doesn't feel like pizza now and then? Pizza was a treat when I was a child, and full of "delicious" ingredients: thin crust, gobs of at least three different types of cheese, topped with olives and pepperoni and, well, more cheese. Due to my current diet and food intolerances, pizza has become less of a treat and more of a chore, and, although there are some good gluten-free pizzas out there, it's more cost-efficient and less worrisome to just make it at home.

I recently discovered that my local grocery store (Alberta Co-op Grocery) offers all the toppings and fixin's I might possibly want for a homemade gluten-free and vegan pie:

Compleat Gluten-Free Pizza Dough is found in the freezer section. It's made very locally, just over the river, in Vancouver, WA. It is quite tasty and has a very garlic-y flavor. Plus, it is entirely gluten-free and vegan. After baking it, your gluten-loving friends will probably not know the difference! Note: it needs to be defrosted before it can be prepared.

--Muir Glen Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce can be found with the other pasta sauces. I love using pasta sauce for my pizza (as opposed to tomato paste or plain canned tomatoes), as it usually includes spices that I wouldn't even dream of placing into a homemade sauce otherwise. This very simple variety adds just the right amount of flavor to the garlic crust.

--Follow Your Heart Mozzarella Cheese is not necessarily my favorite non-dairy cheese (I have certainly spouted off quite a few times about my love for Daiya Cheese). However, FYH does an equally good job at creating a non-dairy cheese that acts and tastes like its animal-byproduct counterpart. I chose to use the mozzarella flavor for my pizza, but FYH also offers a cheddar variety that would probably taste just as good on a pizza. Be sure and cut or shred the cheese into thin pieces so it can be equally spread all over the crust (thus allowing it to melt more efficiently). 

Now, it's time to put it all together into an impressively delicious pie:

Homemade Pizza
1. Follow the directions on the crust to prepare for toppings (this includes defrosting, spreading out the dough onto an oven-safe dish, and pre-baking it before adding toppings).

2. Spread pasta sauce as liberally or conservatively as you'd like on the crust, leaving about an inch of open space to create a rim.

3. Add sliced or shredded cheese (plus any other toppings) to the crust. I decided to create a very simple variety, so I added “globs” of cheese, sliced tomatoes and sliced sweet potatoes all around, leaving spaces for the tomato sauce to come through.

4. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is light-brown and the cheese is melted. Enjoy with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

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