Pizza, mio amore! I have always loved you: feeling lucky to eat Hungry Howie’s in elementary school for Friday lunches, making pizza on a grill in the summer, eating Domino’s drunk and late at night in college, discovering pizza rosa on the streets of Rome. It never occurred to me to order or make pizza without cheese, but even before trying to be vegan was a twinkle in my eye, I often peeled the cheese off pizza, a habit that baffled and even disgusted most people who saw me do it. But I am here to say that cheese-less pizza is delicious! Without cheese, the sauces and toppings get to be in the spotlight (and your sauces and toppings will be so good that you don’t need cheese to enjoy pizza!). No cheese makes for a different pizza experience, but I think it’s exceptional. Below is my favorite pizza dough recipe, favorite sauce recipe, and favorite toppings. Enjoy!
Makes enough for approximately 2 12” pizzas
1 packet/2 ¼ tsp. instant yeast or active dry yeast
¾ c warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 c flour (I usually use whole wheat but it really doesn’t matter)
- If using active dry yeast: combine water and sugar until sugar is mostly dissolved; add yeast on top (no need to stir). Wait a few minutes until yeast gets puffy and activated.
- Combine flour, salt, seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Whisk so it’s evenly mixed.
- When yeast is activated, pour water/sugar/yeast mixture into the flour. Stir gently with a wooden spoon (I hear this is important) or your hands (more fun).
- The dough will come together in a shaggy ball. Knead for a few minutes until it’s smooth. (It should be rather wet, but I’ve used a variety of ratios of water to flour and there is a wide range of good dough texture. It will probably be delicious once you bake it. Don’t worry about it too much.)
- If using instant yeast: combine yeast, salt, sugar, seasoning, red pepper flakes, and flour. Whisk to combine.
- Add warm water, and stir until you get a shaggy texture. Knead the dough until it’s smooth.
- Once your dough is in a smooth ball, put it into a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a towel. Let rise for 30-60 minutes. It will get big and awesome!
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. (People have a lot of opinions about oven temperature and whether a pizza stone is necessary and all that jazz. You’ll definitely get different results with different temperatures and tools, but you can easily get a really delicious and wonderful pizza with nothing fancy and anyone who claims differently is wrong and elitist. Pizza is for everyone, bitches!)
- Put your dough on a sheet pan. I like to oil mine a bit to make sure it doesn’t stick. Stretch it out to whatever shape you want. If it’s in a ball, it’s pretty easy to get a classic circle. (Also, you can use this recipe for a deep-dish pizza! I like to put mine in a cake pan to make it deep dish.)
- Add your sauce and toppings. I would suggest putting a little salt and olive oil over everything.
- Put that baby in the oven and leave it there for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn your oven light on and see how everything’s going. You might want to turn it. You might want to leave it. Up to you. (I usually cook mine for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how wet the ingredients are and how much sauce I used and how big the pizza is and how thick I made the crust.)
- When your pizza is done, take it out, let it cool for a bit, and enjoy!!!
¼ c olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ c onion, finely diced
1 tbsp Italian seasoning (dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc.)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 15 oz. can plain tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a small saucepan on medium heat. When it’s hot, add minced garlic, diced onion, Italian seasoning, and pepper flakes. Let cook and infuse for about 5 minutes. It will smell sooooo good. If you do this and you live with anyone else, they’ll come into the kitchen and say, “What are you making? That smells soooooo good.”
- Once you’re feeling like there’s enough flavor in your oil, add the plain tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir, and let cook for about 10 minutes. (Kind of arbitrary—you just want the flavors to combine.)
- Surprise! There’s no third step, except to stop cooking it and put it on a dang pizza.
This isn’t really a recipe, just a list of suggestions. You don’t need cheese when you have vegetables this good. (LOL)
- Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes whole, big slices of tomato, tomato chunks, it’s all good!)
- Artichokes (just get jarred or frozen or canned; don’t bother with fresh for this shit)
- Mushrooms (fresh or jarred are both good, don’t hate me for liking jarred mushrooms)
- Onion (obviously)
- Bell pepper
- Banana peppers
- Salad (I KNOW, but it’s good. If you don’t want to put salad on your pizza, at least try dipping pizza in a vinaigrette or some kind of oily—not creamy—salad dressing. We all know ranch is good on pizza, but you know what’s better? Italian dressing. If you’re gonna do salad, don’t put it on the pizza until it’s out of the oven.)
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegan cheese (meh)
- Fresh basil
- The pizza in the featured image is: above tomato sauce, portobello mushrooms, onion, artichokes, basil