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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{ 180 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber K October 18, 2010

I always thought pizza needed cheese until I tried Amy’s brand roasted vegetable pizza. That caramelized onion sauce makes you completely forget there is absolutely no cheese!

Now that I have to go gluten-free, I’m not really doing the pizza thing. I tried the Amy’s brand rice crust roasted vegetable pizza, but I just didn’t like it! The sauce and toppings were still great, but I miss everything that makes a good pizza. A soft, chewy crust!

You definitely rocked this pizza! It looks great! I’ll admire and drool over it from afar. :)

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Kjirsten- Balanced Healthy Life October 18, 2010

You def. gey my vote! Great job!

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Nic October 18, 2010

Who needs cheese with colors like those on your pizza! It looks fantastic!

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Whit @ Amuse Bouche October 18, 2010

gorgeous!! awesome job, once again Angela!

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Ashley Craft October 18, 2010

Beautiful photos, delicious-looking vegan pizza! … you have my vote!

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Jenn@slim-shoppin October 18, 2010

Great job with the dough! I voted for you again, best of luck!

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Corey @ the runner's cookie October 18, 2010

Wow! Gorgeous pictures as always, Angela! You are rocking these challenges :)

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Jaclyn October 18, 2010

I love this. That pizza looks ah-mazing! Must try it!!

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Erin October 18, 2010

I love your site! Awesome recipes and absolutely gorgeous photos. My story is similar to yours and I’m just trying to figure out how to get my glow back – thank you so much for the inspiration. I’m glad to know it is possible!

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Charmaine @ Perfectly Picked October 18, 2010

This pizza looks amazing! I totally need to try making my own homemade pizza. I bet it felt nice to know all the ingredients that went into this pizza! Maybe you should take a slice to the man who thought you couldn’t have a pizza without cheese ;)

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Jamie Langloisr October 18, 2010

Wow! I am impressed. Your pizza looks like a work of art :O) Beautiful.

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Diana @ frontyardfoodie October 18, 2010

Thanks for doing all the hard work! Now I know I can make a good pizza dough. Can’t wait to get started on that.

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Foododelmundo October 18, 2010

Love your pizza trauma story, but I like the looks of that pizza even better! Great job! You’ve got my vote. -Katy

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Teresa October 18, 2010

So 2 weeks ago I just happened upon your site while searching for a oatmeal raisin cookie recipe. Needless to say I am now in love with your site!! Your recipes are great and I have shared several dishes with family and friends already. Made this pizza today! I used a whole wheat/spelt mixture for the crust. It was delicious! My 2 year old ate it up, although I did make him a slice with soy cheese (for some reason the only veggie he likes on pizza is artichoke hearts). Thanks for all the work, trial and error you do! :) Will definitely be voting for you!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 18, 2010

Wow that is great! I love when my recipes are kid friendly too :)
Thanks for your encouraging words and for your vote!

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty October 18, 2010

I voted!! This is beautiful!!

I also made the dough and the cheese!!!!!!!!!! :) I just didn’t have the stuff for the pesto!!!

It was soooooo tasty!! thanks so much for it!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 18, 2010

So glad you liked it!! next time u make it try the pesto too, it was so die for. mmm

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty October 18, 2010

Ok, I promise!! hehe :) It’s so tastyyyyyyyy!!!! I have never made homemade pizza before (besides pita pizzas)… it was quick and easy (I made the dough before school)

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Fanta October 18, 2010

Thank you thank you thank you! My boyfriend and I love pizza and it’s especially hard for me when he orders one loaded with meat and cheese and I sit there smelling it and eyeing it up… now it’s my turn to savour! :)

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Moni'sMeals October 18, 2010

Nice work! You work so hard and do such a good job Angela! They look amazing, Eric is so lucky ;)
Fruit pizza….NICE!

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Kristen October 18, 2010

Both of those pizzas look incredibly good.

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Shelly Borrell (Nibbles of Tidbits) October 18, 2010

Very cute and well done all around!!! I see why you’re a favorite. Another vote here. Good luck.

Shelly

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Tiny Urban Kitchen October 18, 2010

The vegan pizza looks wonderful – I’m can’t imagine how you can go wrong with caramelized/roasted onions & pesto. Beautiful photography!

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maya @ finding balance in tokyo October 19, 2010

Wow. I’m really impressed with how beautiful and soft your pizza dough looks. I love my pizza dough recipe, but I have never been able to get it that soft! I go half whole wheat pastry flour, so I know it won’t ever be quite as soft as with all white flour.. but your photos make me want to play with increasing the oil a bit to seeing how that affects it. :D

PS: I voted for you on foodbuzz!

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notyet100 October 19, 2010

awesome ,..good luck for the next challenge

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Heidi - Apples Under My Bed October 19, 2010

This was so brilliant to read, Angela. Good luck! You deserve to get really far. To win!
I just loved seeing the pizza process, and how hard you tried to get it just right! That last picture of the fruit pizza – incredible!
Heidi xo

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Lea October 19, 2010

The photos in this post are just beautiful! That pizza is drop-dead gorgeous.

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Alexis @ Misison: Ambition October 19, 2010

Oh man, this looks AMAZING!

I swear, you take the best pictures of any blog I read. Absolutely gorgeous.

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Joan Nova October 19, 2010

Really colorful pizzas…that’s always a plus! Good luck.

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Mariko October 19, 2010

What a crust! What a topping! You’ve got this cheese lover’s vote.

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norman bertrand October 19, 2010

a great vegan pizza ive experimented with is a Mashed potato pizza (carmelized onions ,garlic and some vegan mashed potatos)

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Margaret October 19, 2010

Angela – Great work again. Way to go!
Eric told me he had this FANTASTIC pizza for dinner , which left me so looking forward to seeing your post. Only dissapointmnet – you didn’t save a slice for me.
Congradulations on Readers Choice – again…. Best of luck in this round and hope to see you in the next one.

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Daydreamer Desserts October 20, 2010

I think you nailed it… both pizzas look amazing!

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Julie @ Willow Bird Baking October 20, 2010

I’m definitely a cheese lover, but I’d be pleased as punch with your version of pizza! You have a vote from me!

For my entry, I made pizza for all the wrong times of day: some Deep Dish Pizza Cupfakes and Pizzas Benedict :) Come see if you’d like!

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Heather October 21, 2010

Now that’s a pizza. That dough just looks amazing!

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Kath October 21, 2010

That is the best looking vegan pizza I have ever seen! This is my first visit to your blog. Love your photos. I’m looking forward to exploring it some more. Oh…and you got my vote! :)

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Janelle October 21, 2010

Just made this pizza for supper and it was worth every minute in the kitchen…DELICIOUS!! THANK YOU for sharing!

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Santos October 22, 2010

amazing, great job!

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Jenn October 26, 2010

I can’t stop drooling! I’m making this pizza this weekend! You are the best.

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Sara November 5, 2010

Just made this pizza for our families Friday Night Pizza and Movie Night. I can’t get over the crust! I thought I had a perfect dough recipe already, but this is way better! I love the chewy/crispy outside! My son said that this was his favorite crust ever and we need to use it always. He also said that we should make it into flatbread without any toppings or anything. And the toppings were all fab! Can’t wait to experiment with other veggies! This is our new go to pizza!

thanks again and I am sooo happy that you are advancing so well! Can’t wait for the video!

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Sara November 8, 2010

We had some pesto and roasted veggies leftover and mixed them into some pasta tonight (along with the Parmesan and crushed red pepper). Best pasta that I’ve had in a looong time! I am not a huge fan of pasta normally but I had a hard time stopping at one bowl!! Thanks for TWO awesome meals!

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April April 16, 2012

This recipe looks AMAZING!! Thinking of trying it out for my mom’s bday…just wondering if you think whole wheat flour would work ok??? and some extra veggies like avocado and zucchini?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) April 16, 2012

You could probably get away with subbing 50% of the flour for whole wheat. Im not sure if 100% would make it too tough. Enjoy!

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Inés September 19, 2012

First of all: Angela, I made your pizza today and it was fabulous! Thank you so much for all your recipes. This one and the Roasted Tomato Pesto are definitely on my Top 10 list already and I’m sure there are more to come =) Thanks! You brighten up my days each time I see you posted a new recipe and I love rummaging through your old ones!

And to you April: I did it with whole wheat flour. But I just did my “normal” pizza dough wich consits of 190 g whole wheat flour, 8 g fresh yeast, 1/2 tsp of salt and +/- 95 g water (sorry for the measurements, that’s because I’m from Germany – but I’m sure you can convert it with some online calculator). Just throw it all into your dough kneading machine, add water, until the dough forms a lump (but not sticky!). Take out and knead into a ball (it helps when you leave the water tap dripping so you can moisten your hands). Moisten dough ball, lay into a bowl, cover with plastic wrapper and let it sit for 3-4 hours (or use more yeast, then the dough rises faster). Then, when shaping the pizza, you cannot pull it into shape! Instead, knead again (with moist hands, leave water dripping), and then press the dough with your fingertips into a pizza shape of the desired size (takes some time). That works great. Leave the crust standing and always press from the middle outwards. That way it works with whole wheat flour. Lifting it and pulling though, doesn’t work. Leave it to rest for 10 minutes, then put on the topping. Bake for 10 minutes on the pizza stone at the highest possible temperature. Hope that maybe you read it =)

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Susanne May 9, 2012

Beautiful pizza and beautiful photography!

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Lauren Deck May 20, 2012

I have never made a successful pizza, even before becoming a vegan. I made this and it was AWESOME! Thank you for the recipe. As always, I love your site.

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