Vegan Basil Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza, and we vegans are no different. But it can be a little harder for us to order takeout because even vegetarian pizza is usually covered wall to wall with thick gobs of cheese.
Vegan Basil Pizza topped with a basil sauce and caramelized mushroomsI do say a little harder: it’s really not that hard if you live in an urban area. There is at least one great pizza chain in my neighborhood, Z Pizza, that has a number of great vegan pizzas on their menu, and in stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s I can usually find at least one or two varieties that are vegan.But making one’s own pizza has got to be more fun than any takeout or store-bought pizza any day. And it really isn’t hard to put together from scratch, nor does it take very long. In fact, we have waited longer for the delivery guy on a Friday night.

I have two basic crust recipes: one for a thin crust and another for a regular one, and in the past I’ve experimented with making whole-wheat crusts, whole-wheat-pastry-flour crusts and plain all-purpose flour crusts. For someone who doesn’t like all-purpose flour, it hurts me a little to admit that the all-purpose does make the best-textured crust, although not the best tasting. And let’s face it: half the fun of the pizza (or maybe all of it) lies in a chewy-yet-crispy crust.
Pizza topped with mushrooms and a basil sauce. A vegan recipeI’ve had my share of pizza oops, although not disasters because they were still edible. While trying out a whole-wheat crust once, loaded with too many mushrooms, the crust turned soft although it still tasted pretty good. The mushrooms, which express too many juices while cooking, were, of course, the culprit. I guess at this point all of you must be going, she didn’t figure THAT? Umm…guilty.

I still like a lot of toppings, but when I make a pizza now, I usually bake the crust and cook the toppings (if they need cooking) separately, and then bung them together in the oven for just enough time for them to get to know each other.

Basil is one of my favorite pizza toppings, and I decided to make that the chief flavor ingredient. I used it three ways: dry basil cooked into the crust, a tomato-basil pistou sauce spread over the pizza instead of the usual tomato sauce, and basil chopped and sprinkled all over the crust close to the end of cooking. Sounds like a lot, but it was just enough of a basil hit for me. Divine.

I also caramelized the mushrooms and onions in white wine. If you’re making this for kids and would prefer to leave out the wine, do so by all means. I like the sweet fruitiness the wine adds, and it builds up the flavors.

For the crust, which turned out quite wonderful (light and chewy in the center and lightly crispy on the edges), I took inspiration from Priya of Live2Cook who posted this fabulous griddle-baked pizza the other day. She advised me to try white whole wheat flour instead of regular for the crust. Since I had some in my pantry, I couldn’t wait to try it.

I did mix in some all-purpose flour, but using at least part white-whole-wheat blunted the guilt as I gorged down slice after slice.

It’s all gone now, but I wish I had some more.
Pizza topped with mushrooms and a basil sauce. A vegan recipe
Can’t-Have-Enough-Basil Pizza

Ingredients:

For the toppings:

Approx. 1 cup basil pistou sauce

1 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup white wine

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup basil leaves, torn or cut into ribbons

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and onions and stir for a minute. Then add the white wine and salt to taste.

Take off the heat when the wine is all gone and the mushrooms and onions are lightly golden with the sugars from the wine. Set aside.

For the crust (this recipe makes 2 crusts):2 1/4 tsp yeast

1/2 tbsp sugar

1 1/3 cups warm water

2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp dried basil

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

Mix the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let stand for five minutes to make sure the yeast is alive and starts frothing.

Add all of the whole wheat flour, about 1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose, dried basil, olive oil, and salt and knead by hand or in a stand mixer. If the dough is too sticky, keep adding the remaining all-purpose flour until you get a smooth dough.

Place in an oiled bowl and turn the dough over once to coat it on all sides with oil. Cover with a kitchen napkin and place in a warm spot for about 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in volume.

After it has doubled, punch down the dough, and divide it into two. If you’re making just one pizza, this would be a great time to wrap one half in plastic wrap and freeze it for future use. When you need it, just bring it out several hours before and let it sit at room temperature to thaw.

Shape the other half into a ball and let it sit around 10 minutes. Then, on a lightly floured surface, roll it into a round of about 14 inches (this isn’t a thin crust but I still roll it fairly thin. Make sure your baking sheet is large enough to accommodate the rolled crust).

Push down around the center with your fingers so you get a slightly raised edge around the pizza.

Dust the baking sheet with cornmeal and place the crust on it. Brush the crust with olive oil and place in a 475-degree oven for about 8-10 minutes until lightly golden. The crust might bubble up in places, but don’t worry. It adds to the great, rustic look.

Take the pizza out of the oven and spread the pistou sauce over it. Then layer the mushrooms and onions and finally the basil over it.

Place it back in the oven for another 3-4 minutes.

Cut into slices and dig in!

I am going to send this pizza on to DK of Culinary Bazar who is hosting the wonderful AWED: Italian event.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

21 thoughts on “Vegan Basil Pizza

  1. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Shreya

    August 12, 2008 at 3:32pm

    wow!! This is so cool. Pizza at home is always best. Looks great:-) I have something waiting for you at my blog.

  2. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Laavanya

    August 12, 2008 at 4:09pm

    Pizza looks perfect Vaishali and you are so right about Basil.. the summery, fresh touch it adds to most everything is fabulous. I’ve seen Z pizza but never tried the place will do so soon :)

  3. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Cham

    August 12, 2008 at 5:37pm

    Vaishu, never even think about the vegan version of Pizza! My son just loves the thick layer of cheese which i hate! May be this pizza is just for me! Great entry!

  4. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Srivalli

    August 12, 2008 at 5:42pm

    wow..now thats what is called a pizza…love the look of it!

  5. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    D

    August 12, 2008 at 7:33pm

    You got to believe me when I say that I could smell that Pizza way back here at my place! I have had basil in Pizza which inspired my grissini’s recently and I know the aroma that must have wafted when U baked the pizza. An absolute yum and I agree – “Cant have enough” for sure

    Thanks for sending this yummo dish my way :)

    DK
    (culinarybazaar.blogspot.com)

  6. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sireesha

    August 12, 2008 at 7:34pm

    Pizza looks awesome….Nothing can beat home made one…..

  7. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Uma

    August 12, 2008 at 9:32pm

    that’s a lovely pizza Vaishali! I am sure I can’t have enough even though I eat that entire pizza! Great job dear!

  8. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Tom Aarons

    August 12, 2008 at 11:36pm

    I’m not a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, but this looks really straightforward and delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    live2cook

    August 13, 2008 at 1:33am

    Hi Vaishali,

    Thank you for mentioning about my post.

    The Vegan pizza looks yummy.

  10. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Nidhi

    August 13, 2008 at 4:56am

    Pizza made at home is always a delight…I have never tried it with Basil topping. I guess to try it I would make this at home, now that I am equipped with your recipe, hv not seen it at pizza chains here.

  11. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    VEGETABLE PLATTER

    August 13, 2008 at 5:04am

    i always like home made pizza .. its less greasy .. basil pizza looks really nice .. shall pass this recipe to my dad .. hez great with pizzas

  12. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Dilip

    August 13, 2008 at 11:09am

    The basil sounds great. I’ll have to try something like this. Thanks for your great food contributions! –Dilip

  13. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Yasmeen

    August 15, 2008 at 2:09am

    mmm…pizza, its healthy too with whole grains and no cheese.

  14. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Nidhi

    August 19, 2008 at 1:52pm

    Thanks to your recipe Vaishali, I finally got down to baking my first bread…and to think that it was a Pizza, Priceless :)

  15. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Sunshinemom

    August 20, 2008 at 6:29am

    I haven’t had a decent pizza since my recent vegan venture! This brings the zest back!

  16. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Samarpita

    December 4, 2011 at 7:11am

    Okay, I tried this today, but as a sandwich and this is soooo good. I just added freshly ground black pepper to it.

  17. Permalink  ⋅ Reply

    Nisha

    April 15, 2014 at 11:07pm

    hi vaishali,

    can we add some amount of wheat gluten flour to make it healthier?

    nisha.

    • Permalink  ⋅ Reply

      Vaishali

      April 15, 2014 at 11:22pm

      Hi Nisha, wheat gluten can make the crust a little too chewy. You can add a small amount– about 2 tbsp– to the recipe without making any significant difference to texture.

Thank you for visiting Holy Cow! I love hearing from you, so take a moment to say hello or tell me what you thought of this post. Thank you!