Easy Gourmet-style Spinach Pizza of Doom
As entered in this week's vegan_cookoff.
(The measurements are rough guides - this is pizza, after all! and I tend to eat bits as I'm putting it together... oops.)
1 large pizza base*
100-150g (4-5oz) of tomato paste
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon hot chilli powder (optional)
1-2 tablespoon oregano (dried or fresh, finely chopped)
3-4 tablespoons basil (fresh, roughly chopped)
1 onion, diced
1-2 soy sausages, sliced
loads of spinach! roughly chopped (4-6 large leafs, or a 60g/2oz of baby spinach... or more! or a combination of both, as I used on this pizza)
2 handfuls of fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, sliced roughly
a handful of kalamata (or black) olives, sliced
half a medium capsicum/bell pepper (green, or a combination of red and green - whatever's handy), roughly chopped
grated or finely chopped/sliced vegan cheese (I used a combination of vegan mozzerella strips (50-60grams/2oz-ish) and vegan dried parmesan powder (2 teaspoons) on this one)
half a handful of pine nuts (shells removed)
cracked black pepper, to taste
How to make it:
1. Chuck the tomato paste in a small bowl, add garlic, oregano, a little black pepper, and chilli powder. Mix with fork until well combined. Slather over the pizza base.
2. Spread the onion and the soy sausage slices evenly over the sauce. (It's important that this is the first layer - the soy sausages should absorb some of the spice from the sauce and some of the onion flavour, so make sure you put them on the sauce to make them extra-tasty!)
3. Cover the pizza with bulky layer of spinach. Remember that spinach shrinks when it is cooked, so add some more. Then add the chopped basil. Then maybe add some more spinach if you think it'll fit. Try to flatten it down a bit if you like. If you want the spinach to have a stronger taste in this dish, add some more.
4. Arrange the tomato, capsicum/bell pepper, mushroom, olives neatly on top, and in such a way that they flatten the spinach a bit!
5. Arrange the cheese on top (as much or as little as you like), and squish the pine nuts in wherever they fit. Add more cracked black pepper if you like.
6. Bake in a moderate-hot oven (190degC/375degF - I have gas, you might want to turn it up a bit for electric, and turn it down a tad for fan-forced) for 20-30 mins, or until cheese is melted and the centre isn't soggy. Slice up, eat, enjoy!
- If you randomly add cheese throughout the pizza building it will hold together better, however you can always eat pizza like they do in Italy: with a knife and fork!
- I like using a variety of cheese, but for a more low-fat approach, just use a bit of grated cheddar, or don't use any cheese at all. The pine nuts also contain a bit of fat, so you could skip those... but they're soooo tasty you won't want to... Ultimately there's not actually much fat on this beast of a pizza, and it's pretty gosh-darn healthy.
- The sauce is probably the most important part. Make sure it tastes good! It should have a strong taste. I like to spread it on so you can't see the base through the sauce (2-4mm thick, maybe) but depending on your taste, you might like more or less.
- You can add less chilli powder if you don't like it spicy. Alternatively you can finely chop two birdseye chillis and sprinkle them over the pizza. If you enjoy pain, try four.
- Instead of fresh tomato, you could use sliced cherry tomatoes or semi-sun-dried tomatoes.
- You can also do this pizza with sweet chilli sauce. If that's the case, skip the mushrooms and the olives, and add pineapple and extra capsicum instead. For a BBQ sauce pizza, cut out the tomato, capsicum and olives, and add soy bacon bits and/or soy chicken bits (a not-meat lovers!).
- The best thing to bake a pizza on is a pizza stone (as seen in the picture). It gives the crust a really awesome texture, and the pizza cooks evenly. Failing that, use a metal pizza tray that's perforated (has holes all over it), or a disposable perforated aluminum foil tray - the holes help it cook more evenly.
- If ever you need to convert grams to ounces, Celsius to Fahrenheit, and so on, check out this site: http://www.unitconversion.org/
*The pizza base:
I used a store-bought vegan wholemeal (wholegrain) pizza base for this one. Another alternative is to make your own - plenty of great recipes on the net and in recipe books, but the pizza bases I get are great and cheap so we don't bother... You could steal the naan bread (Indian flat bread) your boyfriend makes to make half-size pizzas (not that I ever do that... um). If you make your own base (or use naan) your pizza will have a wee bit less fat in it, if you're concerned about such things. Soy cheese aside, the fat content isn't worth fussing over in the case of vegan pizzas. You could also use lebanese flatbread if you like the bases to be thin.
Why is this a pizza of doom?
It's easy to make so I make it far too frequently and I can't stop eating it and I'm doomed to eat tasty vegan pizza forever and ever. And it's full of folate, vitamin K, protein, iron, vitamin C, and plenty of other stuff, so anyone eating this pizza is doomed to be healthy! And there's extra-doom if you use four birdseye chillis on this beast... OMNOMNOM.