Plant-Based Pizza: Forget the Cheese, You Won't Even Miss It
Plant-Based Pizza With Cashew Alfredo
There are few things that have caused more hesitation in the journey to a fully plant-based diet for me and my husband than our desire to eat a real pizza with real mozzarella cheese. I'm not talking about the shredded stuff they layer on in centimeter-thick piles, I'm talking about the good stuff: the melty circles of real homemade mozz, the kind that makes you reminisce about your study abroad in Italy back in the day. Yeah, I said it -- it's not easy being vegan. As much as I believe in it with all my heart -- for the animals we need to stop exploiting, for the environment we need to stop polluting, and for our health -- there are times when we just really want that cheese. Cheese on pizza, it's basically one of the fundamental bastions of my childhood (and probably for most of you reading this) and there's so much joy and nostalgia and feel-good cheese chemicals that just can't be replaced with anything else. So yeah, sometimes we cheat. But I'm not hear to tempt you into running out and ordering up a good Margherita, I just want to acknowledge that this vegan thing is a journey, and every meal is another opportunity to take a step in your chosen direction.
So now that I've got you craving pizza, let me tell you about this awesome plant-based pizza we made the other night on a homemade sourdough crust. It was a thing of beauty. This pie didn't even need cheese, it rewrote the book entirely. The key to a good cheeseless pizza is to make sure you've got all the components, and then max out the flavor on everything. Here's what you need:
- A crust you love. Light, crispy, but soft. All the flavor you can get.
- Something saucy. Nobody needs a dry pizza. This can be tomato-based, creamy, pesto-y, hummus-y, etc. This is your flavor base.
- Something green. Maybe it's the visual contrast with red sauce, or maybe it's just the freshness, but I love a good green pepper, kale, arugula, or basil topping -- anything green will do.
- Something substantial. You're looking for something to bite into here, something that's going to make you feel full. It could be mushrooms, tofu, tempeh, squash, etc. You don't want to feel like something's missing.
- Something sweet. A touch of sweetness creates an awesome flavor complement to the sauce and the crust. I like to use sweet potato, winter squash, or raw corn off the cob here, but any sweet vegetable will do.