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Pizza, Hold the Cheese.

Pizza, Hold the Cheese.

So, in April, I decided to take a one-month vegan pledge. Why?

Why not?

I was curious, after putting in three relatively easy (and totally successful) months of cleaning eating, how I would feel if I cut out dairy, meat and other animal products. It wasn't my grand idea though. I'm easily influenced. My super awesome friend Kacia made it look delicious and easy, so I tried it with her.

Anyway.

I decided to make it a one-month experiment. And I liked it. I tried SO many new things, and ate SO many vegetables and fruits every day. Pretty awesome.

Plus, I got my daughter totally into chickpeas and quinoa. Bonus.

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522551_10150758785014533_586774532_9444916_592025606_n

So I'm sticking with it, but don't call me a vegan. I'm so fickle with food, it hardly seems fair to people with convictions. I just think it's fun, especially during the time of year when there are so many delicious new things growing from the ground to try!

Obviously I'm not going to win any veganism evangelism awards for my own lifestyle, but maybe I can convince you to try a new recipe. Because seriously? How delicious does THIS look:

veganpizza2

veganpizza2

That, my friends, is vegan pizza. Sans meat, sans cheese. And I promise you, unless you're one of those unadventurous meat-and-potato types (like Sean, so I know you're out there), you would not miss cheese one little bit on this pizza.

It's just that good.

What's on this little bit of culinary yum? Let's have a closer look, shall we?

veganpizza1

veganpizza1

And when this lovely little thing came out of the oven, I topped it with fresh lettuces, straight from our neighborhood farm collective, and drizzled it with just a little bit more balsamic glaze.

I see you scratching your head. Not all of these ingredients are things you've heard of, huh? Cashew...cheese?

Yup. Cashew ricotta cheese. The very mention of it makes me picture my pastor's super-Italian wife recoil in horror (I'm kidding, Debbie!). But you have to trust me here. Something things are JUST weird enough to work.

So without further ado, my fantastically awesome vegan pizza recipe, bottom to top.

The Crust

We make a lot of homemade pizza around here. A lot. I've tried oodles of recipes. Dozens. This one is a winner. Why? Because it's 15 minutes, start-to-finish, and is absolutely delicious. Plus, you really can't screw it up. I've tried other fantastic ones, but they take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours (HOURS!) to rise, rest, etc. And frankly, I work full-time and when I get home, I've got to feed my people quickly because bedtime is right around the corner (*tear*).

Here's the thing about homemade crust. If you want whole wheat, and who wouldn't, your crust will be denser and tougher. No way around that. I mean you can add extra oil to make it smoother and easier to knead, but it will still be denser and less "authentic" tasting than one made with white flour.

I propose a compromise. Half-and-half. But only as long as you're using UNbleached all-purpose flour as your white flour (no, really you can do whatever you want, just don't tell me).

Enough talk. The recipe!

Ingredients: 1 package active dry yeast 1t white sugar (yeah yeah yeah, not entirely clean. relax and do it.) 1 cup warm water 2 1/2 cups flour (you can do all wheat, all AP, half and half, whatever) 2+ T extra virgin olive oil 1t salt Italian spices, to taste

Directions: {1} Preheat oven to 450. In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast, sugar and water and let them sit until creamy, about 10 minutes-ish. {2} Stir in everything else. I use a stand mixer because it's infinitely more convenient. Beat it all until it's smooth and then let it rest for 5 minutes. {3} Knead it until it's smooth again and then lay that baby out on your pizza stone.

At this point I par-bake it. Is that a thing? I bake it for maybe 5 minutes and THEN top it. I don't know if it helps, but it makes me feel fancy.

And there's your crust.

I use this recipe and then break the ball into two pieces so I have two pretty little personal-sized pizzas. One they are par-baked (again, if that's even a thing), I topped it with cashew ricotta "cheese", some pesto, chopped up roasted red peppers, banana peppers and kalamata olives.

I drizzled it with balsamic glaze that I found at the grocery store.

Then, I bowed my head and observed a moment of silence.

Oh wait...

The Cashew "Cheese"

Yeah, here's what you do for that:

Ingredients: 1 pound of raw cashews Water Lemon juice 2-4 cloves of garlic Salt Garlic powder Nutritional yeast (optional)

Directions: {1} Soak the cashews in water for at least 6 hours. It makes 'em good and soft. {2} Drain the cashews and put in a food processor (or fancy blender, if that's more your speed). Add all the other ingredients in amounts that suit your fancy and give you a taste you enjoy. Just like dairy ricotta, this will turn out mildly sweet and creamy. I added the water last, so I wouldn't get it too juicy. {3} Process until you've hit your desired creaminess. {4} Taste it and exclaim, "Holy cow, that's insanity!"

 Okay, so you've topped your pizza with all the deliciousness and you toss it back into the oven for, say, 10 minutes? Maybe 15.

And then when it comes out, top it with fresh greens and another drizzle of balsamic.

veganpizza3

veganpizza3

Take a picture.

Post it to Facebook or Instagram. Heck, AND Instagram.

Feel fancy.

And then crack open a bottle of Woodchuck and eat it all. Because it's delicious. And because you can.

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day

I'm [Not] That Mom (a coming-of-age story)

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