Friday, September 17, 2010

Beachy Green Pesto Pizza

It's Friday.  The traditional pizza night at our house.  The boys rotate different restaurants to provide the pizza, but it's a small, elite list.  Although the pizza was delicious, I don't eat it any longer because of the cheese.  Last Friday, I ordered a veggie pizza without cheese and added a sprinkling of Daiya Mozzarella to it.  That did not work for me.  I know MANY people eating vegan rave about Daiya cheese, but I am not impressed with it.  I don't care for the smell and I don't care for the taste.  It has to be on some really strong flavored food to mask that taste for me, and if the food has its own strong and unique flavor, why do I need cheese on it?  So, I decided that I simply had to do something different for my pizza fix tonight.
I went searching for vegan pizza recipes.  There are many.  I finally settled on one for Beachy Green Pesto Pizza.  It had a different topping that the traditional red sauce and gave me an alternative vegan cheese to try; Follow Your Heart.  I found Follow Your Heart at Whole Foods.  There were four different varieties.  I settled on the mozzarella and cheddar flavors, although for this pizza, I am using only the mozzarella.  A plus in the recipe, was the hint that Whole Foods sells pre-made multi-grain pizza dough.  I found it by going to the deli and asking if the pizza station (Chicago Pizza something) sold dough.  They did and I grabbed enough for two pies.  I'm only using one tonight and will use the other one to try the Vegan Teese Calzone recipe I found while researching.
I made the pesto and rolled out the dough.  Once that was done, I spread a tablespoon of olive oil on the dough and let it rise for about 10 minutes.  Then, I started my assembly.
I spread the pesto over the crust evenly.  The Follow Your Heart cheese was in a block, so I grated a small amount over the pizza and then sprinkled some pine nuts on it.
I drizzled a little more olive oil over the pizza (about a teaspoon and a half) and then baked it for about 17 minutes.  The recipe called for a personal pan pizza, but I made a whole pie, so it needed a few more minutes.  I broiled it only for about a minute to a minute and a half and then pulled it out.  That was more than enough for the cheese to get bubbly.
This is probably the spiciest pizza that I've ever eaten, hands down.  I thought when I was adding the teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the pesto that it would be spicy, but this is burn-your-lips spicy!  I didn't realize that it would have this much of a punch.  I love spicy foods, and this pizza is no exception.  It just surprised me.  I'm the only one who will eat this in my house, so I'll have plenty of leftovers.  I'm going to freeze the individual pieces so I can pull a couple out for lunch or dinner when I don't feel like cooking.

The pizza dough from Whole Foods rocks!  It's chewier than white pizza dough, of course, but it has a good flavor.  I will be using this again.  While my goal is to make my own dough (set it up in my bread machine before I go to work so it's made and ready to use when I get home), it's nice to know that there is a great alternative.  It was $2.49 for enough dough for one pizza.  I only made a 12" pie, but there was enough dough to make a bigger pizza with a crust that is more like a traditional thin crust.  I highly recommend it.

How did I like the Follow Your Heart mozzarella cheese, you ask?  It was GREAT.  For my taste buds, there is no comparison, taste-wise, with Daiya.  It tastes more like cow's milk made mozzarella, and as you can see in my picture, it melted nicely.  In fact, I'll be using it in the calzones on Sunday.  I've already told my sons that's what we are having for dinner and to start thinking about what they want to fill their calzone.  I will make their calzones just a bit healthier than they would have been otherwise and they will not notice the difference.  I'll be buying more of the Follow Your Heart mozzarella flavor.  Now, I just need to try some of the cheddar flavor.  If it's good, I'll branch out to the Monterey Jack and nacho flavors.

SO, my pizza experiments have begun.  Tonight's pizza is SO much better than the restaurant veggie pizza with vegan cheese added at home.  There is absolutely no comparison.  I'll keep you posted on my Friday night pizza masterpieces!

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