I'm a little obsessed with pizza and, well - if I say so myself - I make a very good pie. Friday night pizza is like a religion in our house and we are always coming up with new veggie pizza combos. The only rule is that it has to be homemade. With a bit of planning, good use of the freezer and a couple of essential pieces of equipment, we do pretty well.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to dough - all vegetarian. I generally make a classic basic dough but if you want to go for whole wheat, low fat or no yeast, just click on the pictures for a recipe.
Since I first welcomed home my beloved pizza stone, I'm convinced that this, more than any recipe, is the secret to fabulous pizza. The crust will magically become lighter, more crisp and authentic. For the best pizza, two pieces of equipment will make all the difference - a baking stone and a pizza paddle or peel.
But before you rush off to buy them, stop, click the pictures above to get some background so you know what you are looking for.
I bring this up nervously because few culinary matters spark more arguments than what makes up the best pizza/tomato sauce. The season, tastes, time constraints, family traditions and general mood all have a say in what you choose to do here. I can't tell you what I always do because I vary my sauce a LOT.
Ok, don't shoot me but sometimes I skip making a sauce altogether. I'm not a fan of commercial sauce but I do like to use a good quality passata which I buy in an Italian deli. It's good and easy. Spread it on your crust, season and sprinkle with oregano before adding other toppings. Click the pictures below if you want to know more about using passata or how to make your own sauce.
As a vegetarian, I'm always surprised by the lack of imagination restaurants show when it comes to vegetarians. The average menu has one, maybe two, generally pretty uninspiring veggie choices on the menu.
Makes no sense to me. There are sooooo many options...
Note: many Italian cheeses (including some listed below) are not actually vegetarian - a lot of traditional producers continue to use animal rennet in the cheese-making process so check before you buy if this is a consideration for you. Click the "vegetarian cheese explained" picture above for more info.
So what's the best cheese for pizza?
Mozzarella, of course, is the classic choice and certainly the most popular in any vegetable pizza recipe. With good reason. It always gives
excellent results. I personally love good Italian mozzarella di bufala
on any vegetable pizza recipe. The flavour can't be beaten
but it is, however,
cheese and therefore not always an option if you don't happen to live close to a herd of Italian buffalos!
Cow's mozzarella works well too and some people even insist that supermarket (not fresh) mozzarella works best because it doesn't hold so much moisture. There is some truth in that but I would say that it can depend on what else you are putting on your pie. If you are going to load up with toppings, regular supermarket mozzarella is probably your best choice. If you are going to go for a simple, but beautiful vegetable pizza recipe like a classic Margherita, go for buffalo mozzarella. Here, the cheese, the tomatoes and the fresh basil are the stars so it's good to use the best quality you can.
Mozzarella maybe king but there are lots of other great options.
Other Italian cheeses
For vegan pizza, many strong flavoured vegetable pizza recipe toppings work just fine without cheese. However, if you love cheese on your pizza, vegan cheese is now a much better choice than it once was. Follow Your Heart is a very good cheese for melting. However, I think most vegans agree that the absolute best vegan cheese for pizza is Daiya's Mozzarella Style Shreds. Daiya cheese caused quite a stir when it launched a couple of years ago because unlike other vegan cheeses, Daiya really does melt and stretch like a traditional dairy cheese making it a perfect ingredient for a vegan pizza.
And don't forget to check out my low fat pizza guide.
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