Project Food Blog, Challenge #5: A Pizza Complex

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Pizza is sort of a touchy subject with me lately.

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Ordering a vegan pizza at a restaurant can prove to be a bit interesting at times.

Chefs come to the table and try to sweet talk me, pleading with their delicious Italian accent for just a sprinkle of cheese. One time, a chef flat out refused to make his pie without cheese, throwing his hands up in dismay and washing himself clean of impure, cheeseless thoughts.

And this is how a Pizza Complex develops.

And I’m worn down.

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When I found out that the next Project Food Blog challenge was to put a unique spin on pizza, I was scared.

I wanted to run away and never look back. Bye bye, Foodbuzz, it has truly been a slice.

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Running away to the woods allowed me to clear my head. Over the course of a few days minutes- and a lot of Pizza Complex Rumination- I felt like myself again. I shouted, “I will show the world that a vegan pizza is not just ‘a worse-tasting pizza without cheese’, but a beautiful work of art!”

And then I screamed like a baby after seeing a creepy man in the bushes with a camera.

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Wait. Is that my husband?

Anyways. I found myself in the kitchen once again, ready to conquer my Pizza Complex once and for all…

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Roasted Tomato, Onion, and Basil Pesto Pizza with Vegan Parmesan Cheese

Here’s What You’ll Need to prepare:

  • Herb-infused Pizza Dough
  • Vegan Parmesan Cheese
  • Vegan Pesto
  • Garlic-infused oil
  • Roasted Tomato, Onion, Garlic, and Basil topping

 

For instructions, start to finish, see the attached PDF. The dough, cheese, and pesto can be made ahead.

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Despite my newfound conviction to rock a vegan pizza, there was one small catch…

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I’ve had a few traumatic pizza dough flops in the past.

Making pizza dough that turns into a tough ball of gluten is not something one forgets easily. It haunts you in your sleep until you convince yourself that you can actually live a fairly happy life without ever trying to make pizza dough again.

That is, until this challenge threw me for a loop.

Pizza doh, indeed.

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For 6 hours on Friday night I was a student again.

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I studied, I practiced, and I vowed to become a Master of Pizza Dough. It turns out making pizza dough is incredibly easy, but my glowing pride was no less. I can also tell you that cocoa powder, chili powder, or nutritional yeast infused pizza dough all taste horrible. Bad, bad things happened.

I would not be here today without my You Tube Pizza Mentor, Albert.

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He rules.

Also, to the red wine for making the 10 dough trials seem like I was at an all night rave.

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I tested 5 different pizza dough recipes and the one that worked best for me involved no fancy machine or special dough hooks, just some old-fashioned elbow grease!

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Kneading the dough was hypnotic and calming as I tested batch, after batch.

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With each trial, I felt a bit more comfortable with the dough and it actually became fun!

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When the dough is ready it will be soft, smooth, and no longer tacky to touch.

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Now, make the sauce and toppings.

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I had some CSA tomatoes, onion, garlic, and basil to use up and I figured they would work well together.

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and chop.

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Coat the chopped veggies with a homemade olive oil sauce and roast for about 35-40 minutes at 400F.

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Inhale deeply.

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Now whip up the Vegan pesto!

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and then the Vegan parmesan cheese.

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The house smells like a dream right about now.

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When your dough is ready, punch the air out one final time.

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I tested three popular pizza baking methods:

1) Pizza pan –> Soft crust, soft interior

2) Back of a baking sheet –> Soft crust, soft interior

3) Pizza Stone –> Authentic, crunchy crust, with soft interior

The pizza stone won by a landslide!

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Sprinkle cornmeal over your Pizza Peel to prevent sticking.

Now for the part that I was terrified of….shaping the dough!

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I found that the best way to work with the dough was to just let gravity do most of the work.

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Gently hold and rotate the dough allowing gravity to pull the sides down ever so slightly.

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When you have something that resembles a circle, place it on your Peel.

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Gently spread it out.

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Now pinch the sides to form a crust.

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Excitement builds.

Spread on the sautéed garlic infused oil to keep the crust moist and flavourful.

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Don’t be shy with the pesto. This is the best part!

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Now spread on the Roasted Onion, Tomato, Garlic, and Basil mixture.

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and finally, a generous dusting of the vegan Parmesan Cheese to finish it off!

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Slide the pizza onto your stone which has been pre-heating at 500F for 1 hour.

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Magic happens.

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I liked what I saw. A lot.

After 15 minutes, your crust will be golden and crisp and your veggies will begin to blacken around the edges.

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It’s time.

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Your husband, who has been installing hardwood flooring all morning, will magically appear at the right moment.

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He salivates and inhales 3 slices of pizza.

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The pesto makes a wonderful dip for the thick, crunchy crust.

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Pizza Complex Defeated.

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Enjoy your delicious pizza while discussing dessert

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I tend to get a little carried away at times.

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This is my official entry for Project Food Blog Challenge #5. Voting begins at 9am EST on Monday October 18th. If you enjoyed this post I would greatly appreciate your votes in carrying me into the next round! Click here to vote. Thank you!

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{ 175 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 17, 2010

Who says a pizza has to have real cheese on it? This looks fantastic!

Reply

Barefoot Belle October 17, 2010

This pizza has me drooling! And I agree, there’s nothing better than an authentic pizza, cooked on a stone.

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Nicole (Picky Nicky) October 17, 2010

Haha, looks like after your little struggle with the pizza dough, you definitely won!

Enjoy all of them, although I really didn’t need to say that because you obviously will – or, if you’re like me, you already have :D

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Paige @Running Around Normal October 17, 2010

Hehee what a cute/funny post – LOL at Eric in the trees
And that looks amazing – cheeseless or not!!!

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey October 17, 2010

I am so glad you succeeded in this because it looks amazing – the colors of this pizza are incredible!!

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Amy @ purewellnessamy October 17, 2010

Brilliant! The pizza looks delicious…yay!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 17, 2010

Thanks guys!

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Desi @ The Palate Peacemaker October 17, 2010

Angela. Oh my. I WANT! Now to make a gluten-free version of that crust, and I will be in heaven… :)

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Shanna, like Banana October 17, 2010

You’ve done it again! Looks so tasty I could jump through screen. Cheese? Who needs cheese?

Well done!

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Leilani October 17, 2010

Angela… No matter what anyone else posts, talks about, presents, cooks or shows how its done, YOU WIN hands down. Your the best, your blogs have so much heart, soul & passion. No one can top you … No joke!!! :) That pizza looks absolutely devine!!!!!

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat October 17, 2010

OMG Ange that is a thing of beauty!!!! I wish I could have been in your house just to smell all of this pizza making going on. It looks delicious!! And the fruit one… WOW. Freaking phenomenal job once again!! :D

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claire October 17, 2010

That is so beautiful, you kill me! I want some!

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bitt October 17, 2010

I love the colors of the veggies. I think pesto is a great idea for those scared of mock-cheese. Plus it’s more from-scratch. Well done.

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Brittany (Eating Bird Food) October 17, 2010

This looks amazing! I’ll be voting. ;)

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stephanie a. October 17, 2010

I feel like reading this post was like falling into a fabulous novel…I got lost in the photos and the narration! Excellent!

And this is definitely going into my “to try soon” folder : )

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Rachel (tea and chocolate) October 17, 2010

Oh my goodness that pizza looks amazing! I love the story too. You’re such a good writer! I enjoy every one of your posts.

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Allie October 17, 2010

Gosh, that pizza looks off the hook! Bummer you had to work so hard on the dough- but I’m sure it’ll pay off in the end!

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Gypsy October 17, 2010

Congratulations on Readers Choice AGAIN!!
I made the chili pumpkin bowls tonight – delicious!! my chili was sweet bell peppers, sweet potato, roasted corn, fire roasted tomatoes and lentils – turned out great—

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Jessica @ The Process of Healing October 17, 2010

While I loooove your old-fashioned pizza with cheese, that looks fabulous!!! I’d definitely give it a shot!

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) October 17, 2010

I really admire your patience in the kitchen – that is how true masterpieces are created!

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Rebecca October 17, 2010

The pizza looks awesome, just looking at it you would never know that it is a vegan pizza. Good Luck.
I was in a restaurant the other day and they had a dessert pizza, which had chocolate, strawberries, drizzed with chocolate sauce and served with ice cream or cream.

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Jenn (GH) October 18, 2010

That pizza looks pretty dang incredible and I’m not a vegan! Nice job and cute post to go along with it! Love the creepy man in the bushes. He he!

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Melissa @ Delectable Living October 18, 2010

These photos are so beautiful!! I love the way you ended the post with the single photo of the dessert pizza– I hope you do a post on it later on!

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Marina October 18, 2010

Great job! I love making pizza, it’s so versatile! I have to try your version, the dough sounds especially amazing

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alexa @ Sohdalex October 18, 2010

Wow! this looks great. I can’t wait to find out more about that dessert pizza at the bottom… ;)

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Christan October 18, 2010

You are adorable.. i’m gonna make this tonight!

BTW what if.. just what if that fruit pizza had some of your chocolate ganache on it? Oh goodness.

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Mimi (Gingersnaps) October 18, 2010

Oh holy yum! Pesto’s such a great alternative sauce for pizza! BBQ sauce works well too. I have not the courage to make pizza by myself yet. I’ve heard good thinks about combining flour and beer though…

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Casey Thomas October 18, 2010

Awesome job Angela! And for me and I’m sure the majority of your readers, vegan pizza is WAAAYYYY more worthy than pepperoni and cheese pizza!

Casey

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Little Bookworm October 18, 2010

The pizza looks amazing! Good luck!

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stacey-healthylife October 18, 2010

I love both pizza’s they are so pretty and tasty looking.

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Kelly October 18, 2010

You have inspired me to make some vegan pizza! Great post! I’m sure you will win this one,for sure!!

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Carolyn @ lovinlosing October 18, 2010

As always, this looks amazing!! You are in it to win it!

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Jenny October 18, 2010

This is amazing! Your posts are always the best, you’re so talented.

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Felicia October 18, 2010

those are the two most beautiful pizzas i have ever seen girl! your amazing, lovee the photography too!

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Amanda October 18, 2010

Angela, you are so inspiring! You put so much hard work, love, and energy into everything you do. Both pizzas look beyond magnificent. You so deserve to win this!

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Laurie @ Cookies 'n Cardio October 18, 2010

That looks awesome! And by THAT i mean BOTH pizza look AMAZING! Bravo! I love homemade pizza… I have an amazing pizza dough that I make in the bread machine, I’ve been thinking about dabbling in flavored pizza dough, like with sun dried tomato or basil. I think I may just give it a whirl now.
http://cookiesncardio.blogspot.com/2010/09/pizza-pizza.html

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Leanne @ Simplicitlee October 18, 2010

THIS looks AMAZING! Well done Ang!

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Violetta Maria October 18, 2010

Amazing as always :-)

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jaime October 18, 2010

Yum! You’re already a winner to me! That looks like the healthiest pizza I have ever seen. Great job!!

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Anne@ Food Loving Polar Bear October 18, 2010

I’m not a vegan and I love cheese, it’s my favourite food in the whole world but this pizza looks amazing. I would LOVE to have slice. You’ve definitely got my vote :)

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