Pizza with garlic scape pesto, vegan bacon and asparagus

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We’re in a heat wave here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) – it has been a long one with daytime temperatures around 30 degrees but with the humidity factored in, it feels like 40. But I had a handful of garlic scapes from the farm and they have a very short season. So I cranked up my oven and made pizza. This is my second batch of scape pesto this week – it is my favourite way to eat these vegetables.

Scapes are the flower growing out of hard necked varieties of garlic – we cut them back to get bigger garlic bulbs. They’re long and curly and have a mild garlic flavour that is delicious in pesto, grilled, in stir fries or anywhere you’d put asparagus or green beans.

The kids won’t touch them – they think they have a strong flavour – and they do have a unique flavour. They pick them out every time – even if I disguise them with green beans! So this pesto is just for the grown-ups. The kids have their own pizza with tomato sauce on it and Daiya cheese. It’s easy enough to split the dough in half and make them the kind of pizza they like.

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For this recipe, feel free to adjust to your taste. Once you have the general concept, you can’t go wrong playing with the ingredients.

Scape pesto

  • a few scapes (6 or so)
  • 1/4 cup of pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • fresh basil (to taste – I like 1/2 cup if I can harvest it)
  • 1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until finely chopped. Spread on pizza or mix with hot, freshly cooked pasta (try gnocchi).

I’ve paired my pesto with a cashew cheese, vegan bacon and asparagus. My daughter ended up loving this pizza with the pesto and cashew cheese!

Pizzas with caesar salad

vegan pizza

I made pesto the other day so I’ve been planning on making a pizza for me with pesto and roasted veggies with a cashew cheese instead of the kiddie version we usually make with Daiya. Served with a caesar salad, it’s the perfect meal.

But, of course, the kids won’t eat the pizza I want – the pesto is covered with roasted garlic and onions – so they get their own. All the leftovers go into the freezer for last minute lunches so it’s worth my effort to make two large pizzas.

I was originally going to make the pizza from my new cookbook but I would have had to start it yesterday to have it today! The dough is supposed to sit in the fridge overnight, cashews are supposed to soak overnight, the onions, garlic and peppers are supposed to be caramelized and roasted separately… it was too much prep work. Not to mention the dishes!

So went with my tried and true quick pizza dough (takes about 5 minutes to mix and then 10 minutes to rest and it’s ready to use). I used the pesto I made on the weekend. I chopped the onion, peppers and peeled the garlic cloves, tossed them in olive oil and roasted them in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes (on one pan).

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My pizza has pesto, cashew cheese, vegan sausages, roasted onions, peppers and garlic on a whole wheat crust.

I used the quick soak method for the cashew cheese, adding boiling water and letting them soak for 30 minutes or so and followed the mozzarella recipe in The Edgy Veg: 138 Carnivore-Approved Vegan Recipes.

When I got to the end of the recipe, I noticed it said to let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours before using. That didn’t happen. But I didn’t use it all, I guess I’ll see if the time in the fridge improves the flavour or texture of the cheese. It was nice on the pizza.

I wouldn’t call it mozzarella, though. Cashew cheese is delicious in its own right. When we name it a traditional cheese name, like mozzarella, it disappoints because it isn’t the same thing. This cheese was dropped in spoonfuls onto the pizza – it doesn’t spread or melt. But it does taste good. And with the pesto, roasted vegetables and vegan sausages, it was REALLY good.

The kids’ pizza

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The kids pizza has Daiya cheese, vegan sausage and roasted yellow pepper with tomato sauce.

Both pizzas were topped with roasted yellow peppers and vegan sausages made by Fieldroast. So far, these are the only sausages my kids enjoy – the Fieldroast Apple Sage Sausage. They were delicious with the caramelized onions, peppers and garlic. We enjoy the other flavours but the kids find them too spicy. Their pizza has tomato sauce from our freezer stash.

The salad

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When I was making the salad, I originally planned to top it with the eggplant bacon from the Edgy Veg but the eggplant took too long to sweat and then marinate. The next step is to bake for an hour or longer in a not so hot oven but this would have cut into the pizza baking time. So I saved half the caesar dressing to make the salad I wanted to make tonight, tomorrow.

In the meantime, I tossed half the dressing with romaine lettuce, a red bell pepper, cucumber and a large tomato. I topped it with hemp seeds and sea salt. And put the black pepper grinder on the table (my daughter has no tolerance for black pepper). My son isn’t into salads so he got his cucumber and red pepper in stick form on the side of his plate.

 

Pizza with sprouted quinoa crust and rutabaga fries

Rutabaga fries with cinnamon.
Rutabaga fries with cinnamon.

It’s Pizza Day at school tomorrow, which means pizza for dinner tonight so I can send leftovers with the kids for lunch. The kids are thrilled that I remembered this week – doesn’t always happen thanks to my Monday-brain. But since it’s not a given that I remember each week, it’ll be extra special for them to be eating pizza along with the other kids in their class tomorrow.

Of course, theirs will have some added nutritional value thanks to the veggies, sprouted quinoa and whole wheat flour in the crust.

Making it today was super easy since I used the remainder of the sprouted quinoa dough I had in the fridge and leftover pizza sauce from the freezer too! For toppings, we’re having yellow bell peppers and mushrooms – I left a corner mushroom-free for my son.

First, I made the rutabaga fries. I peeled and chopped a rutabaga into long slices, brushed them in olive oil and sprinkled them with a little bit of cinnamon and salt. I baked them at 400 for an hour.

Rutabaga fries out of the oven

While that was baking, I made the pizza. I had just enough dough in the fridge from the other day to make a full-sized pizza. I rolled it out on a floured surface and then put it on the pizza stone and topped it with the sauce, veggies and cheese (Daiya is our preferred brand for pizzas). And baked it at 425 for about 15 minutes.

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The Daiya cheese melts nicely and tastes good too.

That’s about it. The rutabaga fries went down relatively well, my son wasn’t too keen on them but he had a few (an improvement since the last time I tried to get him to eat rutabaga). My daughter gobbled them down.

 

 

Pizza Day

vegan pizzaMy kids have regular pizza days at their school – it’s popular because parents know that once a week, they get a pass on making lunch. And for anyone with school age kids, making lunches are one more thing to do in a packed schedule after a long day at work. And kids love pizza so it’s a win-win, right? Well, there’s not much nutritional value in a piece of cheese pizza. So, we end up making pizza from scratch – it’s actually a quick meal and we freeze extra pieces by the slice to send as lunch when we need to (if we don’t have leftovers from dinner).

Pizza sauce

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Basic ingredients: canned tomatoes, tomato paste and garlic

I make a super simple pizza sauce with a can of diced tomatoes, a half a can of tomato paste, two cloves of garlic, olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Brown the minced garlic in olive oil and then add the rest of the ingredients and let them simmer for about a half an hour. Use an immersion blender to blend it into a sauce.

There was a time when my son would protest if there was a green speck of oregano or thyme in his sauce so I keep it basic and add the flavour as toppings – they’re easier to pick off if necessary.

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Simple tomato sauce

I use what I need for the pizza I’m making and then I freeze the rest in small containers so I can thaw them out as I need them. If I have sauce in the freezer, pizza-making takes no time at all.

If you were to ask my kids, they’d say they hate garlic and onions but if the garlic is minced, they don’t notice it. Onions, on the other hand, always get noticed. So I chop them in big chunks that are easy to pick out. That’s how I keep the peace at the dinner table.

Quick-Rising Pizza Dough

I have Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano, which I love and use enough that the book is falling to pieces. The most used recipe in her book is the Quick-Rising Pizza Dough. It takes about 5 minutes to make perfect pizza dough. The dough has to rest for 10 minutes after I make it so I use this time to prep the toppings.

The only tweak I make to this recipe is to replace half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. It’s healthier and the kids don’t notice the difference.

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We like daiya – it comes shredded and melts nicely. And our local grocery store stocks it.

Toppings

One of the greatest things about homemade pizza is that you can top it however you want. Pineapple, olives, bell peppers, vegan pepperoni or ham are popular choices when I ask my kids. I generally make two pizzas so they can have whatever they want on theirs (extra pineapple) and I can add hot peppers to mine. This makes for lots of leftovers to freeze by the slice.

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Dinner is served

Here it is. Pizza and a side of butternut squash with a dab of vegan butter and sprinkling of brown sugar. This brown sugar topping is something new I’m trying. My picky eater ate one big piece of squash – which was a nice surprise.

vegan pizza with butternut squash