If you're a vegan, especially a new vegan, or if you have to cook for a vegan, you may wonder about how to make a good vegan pizza.
Making a vegetarian pizza is simple enough, since vegetarians eat cheese. You can therefore make a cheese pizza or just load up a plain cheese pizza with all sorts of veggies.
The challenge of a vegan pizza is the fact that vegans do not eat cheese. There are vegan cheeses for sale, of course, but before you even go down that road you should consider something else.
The original pizza, the one upon which all other pizzas are based, originated in Naples in Southern Italy and is known as the Marinara pizza. That original, first pizza was actually made without cheese.
That sounds very weird to most of us who are used to equating pizza with stringy dripping cheese. But in Italy and Southern Europe in general, pizza without cheese is very common.
In the Mediterranean region, which encompasses North Africa and the Near East of Asia as well as Southern Europe, phyllo dough is sometimes used as a pizza base. And a cheeseless pizza on phyllo dough is absolutely amazing.
In fact, although we think of pizza toppings when we think of pizza, what really makes a great pizza is the base. Without a proper base, no matter how good your toppings are, your pizza will unfortunately be a flop.
A real Marinara pizza is made with Italian 00 flour, which is as fine as talcum powder but with lots of gluten and protein, so that it can be stretched extremely thin but remains very strong and makes an excellent thin crust base.
In addition, a real Marinara pizza has to be baked in a super hot wood fired oven, so hot that the whole pizza can be cooked in just 60 to 90 seconds.
If you don't have a wood fired pizza oven, don't worry. Although you can get affordable wood fired ovens for your backyard now, there is also an amazing counter top pizza oven that does an excellent job. Alternatively, you can get a pizza baking stone which also gives superior results.
The Marinara pizza has as its toppings only genuine Marinara sauce, garlic, oregano, and olive oil.
Again, the ingredients here are extremely important. The Marinara sauce is to be made with genuine San Marzano tomatoes, and the garlic, oregano and olive oil must be fresh.
Now if you want to add toppings on this, you should do so sparingly and tastefully. The American fast food pizza tradition of piling on toppings on your pizza is not for this.
You can get very creative and using special combinations likeoven roasted garlic and red pepper pizzaGarlic, sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, high quality olives (with pits!) and mustard seedstomato pesto pizzamushroom and artichoke hearts seasoned with lemon juice and ground pepper pizzahomemade garlic white sauce with caramelized onions, fresh tomato slices, and a light sprinkling of crushed red pepperPotato Pizza (paper-thin sliced potatoes with fresh rosemary, chopped onions, ground pepper (optional), and extra virgin olive oil) - no doubt a strange pizza to American ears, but a common favorite in Europe.
Now if this is not for you, you can go along the traditional American fast food pizza route, and simply veganize it.
So you substitute vegan cheese for cow's milk cheese, and you can even get meat substitutes that taste like pepperoni, salami, or ham.
There are even frozen vegan pizzas that taste really good.
So whatever route you want to go, there really is a lot of choice for vegans to want to eat pizza.
Not only that, it doesn't have to be some fake vegan substitute, but the actual, real original pizza as it was meant to be.
Andrew J Neal is the administrator of Vegan Pizza Place which gives visitors a whole list of resources and ideas, like for vegan pizza toppings so that they can make great vegan pizzas.