Many new vegans (persons who do not eat meat, eggs or dairy products), or hosts who are serving vegan guests for the first time, may have a hard time coming up with creative, tasty dishes. Vegan pizza is often a simple and easy choice. However, after solving the puzzle up to that point, many people get in a rut and things start to get a little stale.
But there are many facts about vegan pizza that many people -- including long-time vegans -- do not know.
For instance, did you know that the original, authentic, Italian pizza is traditionally vegan, i.e. no meat and no cheese? It is called the Marinara, and because of the simple but special ingredients used, and the cooking method, many pizza connoisseurs choose this pure version as their favourite pizza.
In addition to the Marinara, there are a number of other vegan pizza choices available.
Vegan pizzas are available at your favourite pizza place, you can buy it frozen, or make it at home. While it is not common to find a pizzeria that serves authentic Marinara pizzas, it is easy to get a cheeseless pizza from any pizza restaurant by just asking to hold the cheese.
Very good frozen vegan pizzas are also becoming more readily available, too, and tastier.
Then there is the home-made pizza option, which may be the best choice if you want a more authentic Italian pizza, if you would like to use cheese and meat vegan substitutes, or if you want to use non-traditional pizza crusts.
With regard to toppings, you can go cheeseless (in traditional Italian or modern vegan style), use vegan cheese substitutes, or nutritional yeast "cheese" sauce (very nutritious, rich in protein and B-vitamins). Vegan Cheese substitutes, it must be noted, have not traditionally been able to reproduce the familiar "stringy" quality of melted mozzarella on vegan pizza, with the exception of one brand which is tapioca- and arrowroot- based rather than soy-based.
That's not all. While pizza dough is already vegan, not many people know that there are significant differences in types of flour, and not all flour is available everywhere. The fact is that the single most important component of a pizza is the base, not the toppings. Authentic Italian pizza needs "00" flour, not readily available in North America, but this gives a distinctive airy and stretchy texture, and handles perfectly when forming into a circle.
It is perfectly possible to make good (but not authentic Italian) pizza crusts using regularly available baking flour (beer is often a good addition), or whole wheat flour. But outside of that there are tasty gluten-free pizza crusts available, using tapioca and manioc flour (from Brazil), or seeds, vegetables, and legumes (in a modern vegan variation).
In a more traditional European gourmet mode, one can also use puff pastry as the pizza base to make very interesting vegan pizzas. Sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and mustard seeds, mushroom and artichoke, thinly sliced potato with olive oil and rosemary (a traditional European favourite that is virtually unknown in America), all go beautifully on flaky puff pastry.
You can explore all of these vegan pizza recipes at Vegan Pizza Place. For you, your vegan family members, or friends, we hope that a whole new world of ideas will open up.
AJ Neal has been a vegetarian since 1988, is married to a non-vegetarian, the father of one son (vegetarian since birth), and administers veganpizzaplace.com.
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