Thursday, December 5, 2013

A real winner!

After a series of 'just tolerable' meals, last night's dinner was a welcome success. I made two kinds of pizza, both vegan, despite the repeated requests for cheese.  I just said to the kids, "You are welcome to add cheese to your slices if you want... if you can find any in the fridge."

We all like different things on our pizza.  When we order out, my husband and daughter love BBQ chicken pizza, my son likes mushroom and I'll eat practically anything, but I've been gravitating towards vegetables recently.  In the past, we have all felt cheese to be an absolutely necessary ingredient.  The most recent time we ordered from our favorite pizza place, I ordered their roasted vegetable pizza without the cheese.  It was OK, but no one ate it but me.  Last night's pizza was way better than that.

I got the idea from the Engine 2 BBQ pizza from the original Engine 2 book.  The recipe is not on the E2 website, and I modifed it, so I'll give my ingredients & process here:
  • 1 Trader Joe's bagged pizza crust (left out on the counter for an hour before shaping)
  • store bought Bourbon BBQ sauce (leftover from a summer BBQ, but coincidentally vegan)
  • large handful of fresh baby spinach, cut into ribbons
  • 1 c. frozen pineapple, thawed
  • 1/4 c. raw cashews, finely ground
  • a few pinches of oregano
Shaped the dough into a rectangle and put into a jelly roll pan on top of a silpat mat (dough filled the pan).  Spread some BBQ sauce on top. Sprinkled some oregano with a heavy hand.  Arranged the spinach evenly, then topped with the pineapple.  Sprinkled the ground cashews on top. Baked in 425 oven (on convect) for 10 minutes.

Would have been great with carmelized onions, or fresh red onion too.  My daughter and I loved it.

My son doesn't like BBQ pizza so I made a mushroom pizza for him.
  • 1 Trader Joe's bagged pizza crust (left out on the counter for an hour before shaping)
  • store bought Marinara sauce
  • large handful of fresh baby spinach, cut into ribbons
  • package of sliced mushrooms
  • red wine
  • 1 tsp. Penzey's Bouquet Garni spice mix - salt free spice mix of savory, thyme, oregano & more
  • shake of salt
  • 1/4 c. raw cashews, finely ground
Water sauteed mushrooms until they released all their moisture and got a bit brown, deglazing the pan when needed with a splash of red wine.  Added some Bouquet Garni and shake of salt to the mushrooms.  Shaped the dough and put it on a cookie sheet with a silpat mat.  Spread some sauce over the top, added the spinach, mushrooms and cashews as evenly as possible.  Baked at 425 (on convect) for 10 minutes.  This one was also tasty. My son ate half the pizza and gave it a thumbs up although he said something about the cashews getting caught in his braces.

The kids did rustle up a chunk of Parmesan cheese from the bottom of the fridge drawer and grated a bit on top of their slices.

Both pizzas could have handled more spinach as neither had any kind of spinach taste and the kids did not even attempt to pick it off.  A bit of slivered fresh basil would also have been nice also.

I am excited to experiment further with this idea of cheese-less pizza.  I thought the cashews were a terrific alternative to cheese. Daughter liked them, son was so-so.  Next, I will try using a whole-wheat crust (although that might put the kids over the edge), adding more spinach, and maybe sweet potato slices or a small handful of black beans.  Roasted teriyaki eggplant and zuchinni are also worth a try. Regarding the crust, a multi-grain crust with some texture like from unground oats might give some added interest.  I'll be on the lookout for a dough recipe like that.

Kid-friendly: yes
Kid-rating: 4
Husband-rating: n/a
My rating: 4
Ease of prep: medium - mushroom prep, slivering spinach, grinding cashews
Cleanup: medium - pans, silpat, food processor, dough board, knives, spoons
Nutrition: C - BBQ sauce is mostly sugar, TJ's dough is white flour. Not enough veggies.
Overall Rating: 4

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