The song: “Free Pizza for Life” by Ghost Mice (lyrics)
The foodstuff: Pizza Margherita from Heart Healthy Pizza
The connection: This “heart healthy pizza” might not be free, but it’s good for life!
Truth be told, I have no idea where or how a vegan might score free pizza. Befriend the owners of Peace O’ Pie? Offer up one’s dishwashing skills at Vinnie’s Pizzeria in exchange for all the odd slices you can eat? Dumpster dive at Whole Foods, hoping to find a past-date, discarded Tofurky pizza? Who knows! Not me, otherwise I’d be doing it right now instead of writing this post. Pizza is my everything.
Instead of concentrating on the “free” portion of this song, then, let’s enjoy pizza “for life.” The very first all-vegan pizza cookbook (that I know of!), Mark Sutton’s Hearth Healthy Pizza (subtitled “Volume 1″ on Amazon – could there be a second book in the works? PLEASE SAY YES!) includes more than 100 recipes for delicious, nutritious vegan pizza and related foodstuffs. We’re talking dough, cheeses, and meats. Sauces, salsa, and pestos. Tempeh anchovies, y’all! Recipes for crusts and sauces are listed in their own chapters, and then Sutton pulls it altogether by putting together a variety of pizza combinations for you: The Official Mad Cowboy. Thymely Summer Squash. St. Patty’s Pizza Pie. And on and on.
Because the recipes rely primarily upon grains, beans, nuts, vegetables, and assorted other nutritious vegan goodies, the pizza pies in this book aren’t just good – they’re also good for you. Pizza “for life,” in other words.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that, though I won a copy of this book months ago, this is the first recipe I’ve tried! Mostly because I’ve been busy concocting my own (much less healthy) pizza masterpieces – but also, every time I crack Heart Healthy Pizza open, I get a wee bit intimated. Baking and blending your own meats and cheeses from scratch…it’s like every recipe is a recipe within a recipe. Inception, vegan pizza styley! With so many steps, I was afraid each pizza would take most of an afternoon to make. Cue: procrastination.
But it isn’t so! I chose the Pizza Margherita because it seemed simple enough – but even this pie required me to make all the components from scratch: Basic Pizza Dough (obvs!); Classic Tomato Sauce; Millet, Sunflower Seeds, and Oregano Sauce (hold the oregano!); and Parmiso. Though I cheated on the tomato sauce (hey, I had a jar of Newman’s Own Marinara Sauce already opened!), I made everything else and guess what? It wasn’t all that hard! Between the dough and the cheeses, the whole affair took less than 45 minutes. Plus, the Millet Sauce and Parmiso keep well in the fridge, so you can make them ahead of time!
The Pizza Margherita is like a traditional Old World pie, but vegan – with the Millet, Sunflower Seeds, and Oregano Sauce subbing in for raw slices of mozzarella. It’s a thick sauce, similar in consistency to pancake batter, which you “blob” onto the pizza. I wasn’t sure how much it would spread out during cooking – if at all – so I went a little easy on it. (The leftovers? Makes a delicious spread for sammies!) Turns out that it pretty much stays put, so don’t be afraid to cover your ‘za with blobs. Cheesy!
The Parmiso Sutton describes as a “combination of plant-based grated Parmesan Cheese and Gomiso. Gomiso is a ground roasted sesame seed and salt mixture, very popular in macrobiotic cooking as well as in Asia (particularly, Korea). Though I was tempted to use my own favorite vegan parm, I decided to give Sutton’s Parmiso a try – and I’m glad I did! Super-tasty, though I think it goes better on pizza than pasta. For that, I prefer my almond and nooch mix.
As for the dough, the mister (who’s forever on dough duty in our house) reports that it’s denser than he’s used to – which is a good thing, since it makes the dough easier to work with. It bakes into a nice, crispy, stable crust – especially perfect for heavy toppings.
Put it all together, and I quite enjoyed the Pizza Margherita! Nutritious, easy to make, yummy – and possibly even less expensive than vegan pies topped with pricey commercial meats and cheeses, to boot. (My usual MO.) I look forward to trying some of the other recipes in Heart Healthy Pizza. (Tofu Feta, I’m looking at you!)
Pro tip: since there aren’t many toppings protecting the sauce, the Pizza Margherita comes out a little dry when you reheat the leftovers. Go heavy on the sauce or go home! Or if you’re already there, come on over to my place and make me a pizza. I’m hungry again, yo!