By Amanda Wilks
When it comes to homemade pizzas, even the worst pizza tragedy can come out of the oven in better shape than a pizza that has lived in the freezer aisle of your local megamart for the past several weeks.
There aren’t any amazingly fancy tricks to putting together a solid vegetarian pizza beyond being willing to put in a smidgen of work and care, but assembling a truly great pizza requires extra know-how and a few sneaky prep steps that most people just aren’t keen on. It pays off with a pizza destined to become a family favorite!
For starters, having a base recipe to work from gives an idea of the ingredients and time required to prepare your pizza. There are a few extra steps to sneak in here and there, but the estimate Allrecipes.com gives is a good place to start, as are the ingredients required. Hold back on the tomato paste, set aside extra butter and garlic powder or fresh garlic cloves if you’re feeling brave. Let’s talk about substitutions.
Say Goodbye to Canned Ingredients
Most of your base recipe can be created with home-grown or organically sourced ingredients. Vegetables might come from your garden, oregano from your herb planter on the windowsill and so on. After putting together the perfect pizza crust it’s somehow considered acceptable to dump a can of tomato paste into a pot with a few ingredients to spice it up and call it a day.
It’s easier than the alternative, but pizza isn’t a dinner thrown together in a few scant minutes. Pizzas take time and taste best when created by hungry family members coming together to make something they all enjoy, which is why a good substitute for tomato paste from a can should be on your priority list. A homemade tomato puree is about as complicated as reducing tomatoes and then blending them which is well within the realm of work expected for your pizza in the first place.
If that sounds like too much work, invite your significant other or kids into the kitchen to help chop up the tomatoes and take a moment to yourself. Cooking can be hard work, after all!
Assembling the Pizza
As with any pizza the work involved comes in shifts. Making the crust means letting the yeast activate, which requires knowledge of the exact temperature of your water, lest the yeast not wake up from its temporary slumber. Investing in a thermometer can be just as beneficial as fun pizza accessories that reduce your workload. Make sure your yeast is given proper time to bloom, too.
When working your dough, knowing how the windowpane test works can save you a lot of agony over dough that doesn’t come out quite right. In essence you work the dough until it can be stretched super-thin without tearing to ensure the gluten within is properly meshed to allow a proper rise and pleasant texture.
Canned sauce is a no-go for a proper vegetarian pizza. It works, but going to the trouble of making your own dough for crust means you may as well do things properly the whole way through. Combine your sauce ingredients and cook them in a saucepan for 15-20 minutes. Make sure your veggies are finely chopped to avoid any big chunks cooking slower than the rest of the sauce.
Prepare your baking sheet, ladle on the sauce and start topping your pizza. The recommended toppings are only to give you an idea of where to begin, of course. You can top a pizza with everything from pineapple medleys to cucumber and mozzarella pairings, but a classic onion and mushroom pizza is a lovely place to start. Families with pickier eaters might have to get creative with the ingredients or simply hide them under the cheese.
After baking for 20-25 minutes, your pizza is ready! Time to dive in, right? Yes and no. It may be good now, but melting a few tablespoons of butter and cutting a garlic clove crosswise can make it even better.
Traditional bruschetta evolved into the garlic bread we know, and love today yet requires no more work than toasting bread and rubbing garlic on it, technically speaking. Rub the crust of your pizza down with garlic, dab on a little butter and maybe toss on a few teaspoons of grated Parmesan cheese if you want to be terribly fancy with it. Nothing quite like turning the crust from a skippable pizza handle to a must-eat breadstick!
While it may take an hour or two to assemble a truly tasty vegetarian pizza the end result is always worth the effort. By combining kitchen know-how with a desire to share delicious homemade food with those you love, you just might manage to turn picky veggie naysayers into veggie pizza lovers for life. If not, more for you!
Author Bio: Amanda Wilks is a part-time writer and cooking enthusiast. It’s only recently that she has discovered her passion for gastronomy, but since she did, not a single day passed without her cooking for her family and friends, who praise her creativity in the kitchen. Find out more about Amanda on Twitter.
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