This summery vegan Caprese pizza is made with garlicky pesto slathered crust topped with juicy cherry tomatoes, cashew ricotta, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.
This pizza started out as a sandwich! A grilled pesto Caprese panini to be precise, but it was really ugly and I couldn't manage to snap a half decent photograph. Yeah, it's true: I'll actually change a whole recipe around in an effort to make it prettier. But! I'll only do so if the updated version is as good or better than the original, which in this case, it was.
So you can make this as a vegan panini if you're so inclined. The panini version actually used avocado in place of vegan cheese, but it totally worked. I couldn't bring myself to put avocado on the pizza because all I could envision was a wide sea of green atop a pizza crust. Again, I'm focusing on aesthetics, but it's a good thing! I was brainstorming vegan cheese ideas when my husband reminded me that ricotta cheese is excellent on pizza. I'd just about forgotten about that, but it was perfect for a vegan Caprese pizza, and so here it is!
I'm just hitting the tipping point of having ripe cherry tomatoes come out of the garden daily (yay!) so I took the opportunity to put some on this pie. That was after I snapped the photo directly above, featuring great big tomatoes from the store. My photo is a lie but at least I admit it. I don't usually make this big of a fuss over my recipe pics (as indicated by the food all over my drinking glass in Friday's post. Opps.), but I guess this pizza is special.
No, I'm sure this pizza is special. It was delicious! And perfect for summer. Basil, tomatoes, and it's great hot or cold, which I guess all pizza is, but especially this one. If you feel like making a lazy version (which, hey, it's toasty out, so who isn't about being lazy?), feel free to use store-bought pesto (Amore is vegan), and swap out the ricotta with those avocado slices or even some store-bought vegan mozzarella, in which case I'd recommend popping it under the broiler to melt for a few minutes.
Vegan Pesto Caprese Pizza
- 1 pound vegan pizza dough
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal, optional
For the Balsamic Reduction
- ½ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegan brown sugar
For the Pesto
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts,
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
For the Vegan Ricotta
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
- ¼ cup unflavored soy or almond milk
- 3 ½ ounces (¼ of a regular 14 ounce pack) extra firm tofu, drained
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
For Topping the Pizza
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes halved
- A few fresh basil leaves
- Red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Brush the edges with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake the crust until browned and puffy, about 20 minutes.
While the crust bakes, place the ingredients for the balsamic reduction into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Lower heat and allow to simmer until the mixture thickens and becomes syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Place the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor bowl and blend until mostly smooth, with just a bit of texture. Taste test and add more salt if needed. Scoop into a bowl.
Wipe out the food processor bowl and then add the cashews and milk. Blend until relatively smooth (it doesn't have to be perfect). Add the tofu, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until a chunky, ricotta-like texture is achieved. Taste-test and season with additional salt if needed.
Spread the pesto in a smooth even layer over the pizza crust, then place dollops of the ricotta over top. Sprinkle with tomatoes, basil, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with balsamic reduction. Slice and serve.