Ah the classic- warm sauce & toasted dough, cheesy exterior, veggie interior. This perfect combination of ingredients is one of the oldest recipes alive and so easy to make. Regardless of your culinary skill level, you can make a healthy delicious pizza in a few simple steps...
What You'll Need
2 cups spelt flour
1 egg (optional)
1/8 cup almond milk (optional)
1 cup olive oil
1 TSP salt
1/2 cup hot water
1 TBSP active dry yeast
1 TBSP sugar
1 sweet pepper (color of your choice)
1/2 small eggplant
1/2 red onion
2-3 button or cremini mushrooms
1 TSP dried oregano (fresh is even better)
1-2 cups good quality tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 TBSP olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
few leaves of fresh basil
Step 1: THE DOUGH
Begin by mixing the hot water and sugar in a silver bowl until the sugar dissolves. By this point the water should be warm. You want it to be warm enough to activate the heat but not so hot that the yeast dies. Once it is comfortably warm, add in the yeast and mix with a spoon. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave in one spot for a few minutes.
During this time the yeast will eat up the sugar and produce CO2 & alcohol as a by-product. This is the magical basis of fermentation- a process key to so many delicious things (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi etc.) These by products will release a yeasty scent, when you smell this uncover the bowl and check to see if the yeast has leavened.
Once you see a thick foamy layer at the surface of the water instead of individual yeast grains you know it's ready. As long as there is enough sugars in the mixture, the yeast will continue to multiply, eating the sugar as food and producing CO2 & alcohol. Thus the amount of sugar you add is partially proportionate to how much the dough will rise.
Add in the egg, salt, almond milk, 1/2 of the olive oil & mix well. Slowly start adding in the flour while mixing and continue adding the oil.
Its very easy to add too much flour which will result in a dense unpleasant dough, especially because we are using spelt flour which is heavier (because the grain is more whole than white flour). Once the dough starts clumping together only add little bits of flour at a time. See if you can knead into a dough that doesn't completely stick to your hands after adding generous amounts of olive oil. If not, add a bit more flour and continue like this until you have a flexible, non-stick dough with the least amount of flour possible.
Now knead the dough for a while. Longer kneading also helps the dough rise because it helps prevent the buildup of alcohol (too much of it is toxic for the yeast) as the yeast continues to consume the sugars in the dough. Line your bowl with olive oil all over the interior so that the dough does not stick to the bowl as it continues to rise.
Now you will want to leave the dough in a warm place where it won't be disturbed to facilitate the magical fermentation process. My great-grandmother always used to but the bowl under the bedsheets so that the warmth released by the growing yeast is preserved. I do the same, creating a little tent so the rising dough isn't squashed by the covers and eave a small opening in the covers for air flow. It's a great method if you don't mind your room smelling like yeast haha
Let the dough rise for at least an hour (1.5 hours is better). In the meantime you can prepare the rest.
Step 2: THE TOPPINGS
Start by slicing the peppers, mushrooms, eggplant and onion thinly. Obviously you can top the pizza with whatever you want, this is simply my favourite combination. Heat a pan of grapeseed or avocado oil on medium-high heat (not olive oil- unless it is light or ultra light olive oil). Once it is hot (you can feel the heat with your palm hovering over the oil), add the pepper eggplant and onion, stirring occasionally until golden and soft. Once they are almost completely cooked, add in the oregano, salt & pepper.
Grate the cheese and slice the tomatoes thinly, now everything is ready.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead it for a while again. You can let it rise again at this point but I usually stretch it out and let it rise on the pan for about half an hour before putting it in the oven. Grease a baking pan & stretch the dough onto it evenly, leaving some extra cinched dough on all the corners for the crust. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
After the yeast has risen again, put in the oven and let it bake until fragrant ~ 15min or so. Once the underside gets brown, flip and put back in the oven for a short time.
Depending on how you made your dough & how much it rises, you will want to cook it long enough so that the bread is fully cooked before putting the toppings on. This prevents the outcome of a soggy undercooked dough after the tomato sauce goes on. However not entirely cooked to a perfect golden brown other wise it will burn after you cook it with the toppings on. It should look something like this:
Take the bread out of the oven and spread the tomato sauce evenly overtop with a spoon. Then the veggies, some cheese, the tomatoes on top and the majority of the cheese over the tomatoes. In the one pictured below I made one half vegan (although it definitely was not the same).
Put it back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese has melted and the tomato sauce is hot. Now set the oven to broil for only a couple of minutes to toast the top of the pizza & make the cheese golden. Make sure you watch it at this point because if you forget the pizza on broil it will burn very very fast (trust me I've been there :P).
While the pizza is very hot, rip up some basil leaves and sprinkle them all over the top. I always rip basil leaves as opposed to cutting so that their fragrant oils are not lost in the knife and the cutting board and to prevent bruising of the leaves (plus they make your hands smell wonderful :)). Fill the olive oil cap with olive oil and drizzle over the pizza. You can use a basting brush to spread the oil all over the crust, which will make it more crunchy as it cools.
Slice & enjoy! This is really tasty with dip and chilli powder sprinkled on top.
Combine 1 smashed/crushed/minced fresh clove of garlic with a couple TBSP's veganaise, a squeeze of fresh lemon, black pepper & optional chili powder. Mix well.
CREAMY GARLIC DIPPING SAUCE