Sautéed mushrooms, onions, and peppers are piled on top of a cashew cheese covered cornmeal crust and smothered in garlicky tomato sauce to create this vegan deep dish pizza.
I have a handful of ambitious recipes that have been on my to-make list forever. Stuff like this: vegan deep dish pizza. The thing is, as much as I love the idea of something like this, I can mentally psych myself out. It'll be a massive project. I'll trash the kitchen. It'll probably take me eight tries to get it right. That kind of thing.
Okay, so I did trash the kitchen, but I trash the kitchen when I make toast, so don't read so much into that. And yes, this was a project, but you know what? It was fun and totally worth it. In fact, I didn't even whine about it when the first set of photos sucked and I had to make the whole thing again! Because this baby was tasty business. Totally worthy of a couple of afternoons worth of kitchen trashing!
There were two major psych-out factors to this one. Firstly, the dough. I rarely make yeast breads because I'm too lazy to knead the dough and also too lazy to bust out and clean up the stand mixer. Usually though, when I do decide to suck it up and get to kneading, it's not nearly as bad as I expect. This particular dough was exceptional -- super moist and crumbly thanks to some olive oil and cornmeal. I can handle seven minutes of kneading for that.
Then there's the cheese. I'm all about making vegan cheese...when it's easy. Like vegan cream cheese. Or nacho cheese. Throw stuff in the blender kinds of cheese. I know I'd have to do a little something extra for pizza cheese, wasn't sure I was up for the effort, and didn't know if I'd like the result. Here's the thing though: in a Chicago-style deep dish pizza, the cheese goes under the toppings. When you've got your vegan cheese squished between or under other stuff, it's a lot harder to tell what's going on.
The cheese actually turned out pretty decent in it's own right, but under a bunch of sauce and veggies, I'd probably not have guessed it was vegan. Feel free, of course, to go super lazy and use some vegan mozzarella shreds -- you'll be missing out on half the fun, but that's on you!
Loaded Vegan Deep Dish Pizza
For the Crust
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour, or more all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon warm water
- ¼ cup olive oil
For the Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
For the Sauce
- 1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the Toppings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- ½ medium green bell pepper, sliced into strips
- 1 small onion, sliced into strips
- salt and pepper
Begin making the crust by stirring flours, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and yeast together in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the water and olive oil until a dough forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes. Lightly oil a medium bowl, then transfer the dough the the bowl, cover and place in a warm spot to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Lightly oil a 9 inch cake pan or springform pan. Transfer the dough to the pan and press until it stretches to cover the bottom of the pan, then press some of the dough up the sides of the pan to form a rim about 3 inches high. Cover the dough again and allow it to rest while you prepare the fillings.
While the dough rests, prepare the cheese. Place all ingredients into a blended and blend until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, and lower heat. Allow to simmer, whisking almost constantly. The mixture will get a bit lumpy at first, and then it will become thick and stretchy. Eventually it will start to pull away from the sides of the pan, after about 7 minutes. When this happens, remove it from the heat and set aside.
Prepare the sauce by stirring all ingredients together in a small bowl.
To prepare the toppings, coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and place over medium heat. Add mushrooms in an even layer. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, until browned on bottoms, then flip and cook 5 minutes more. Raise heat to medium high and add peppers and onions, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook until veggies begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Once the dough has sat for 15 minutes, turn the oven on to preheat it to 425°. Once preheated, place the crust into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, and spread the cheese in an even layer over the center. Distribute the veggies over the cheese, and then spread the sauce over the veggies. Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce just begins to bubble.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting - the longer it sits the less messy it will be.