7 Inventive Veggie Pizzas and One Tried and True Classic

buffala pizza

Pizza.  I love it.  Everyone loves it.  And it’s a GREAT way to get non-veggie eaters eating veggies.  Think of the pizza crust as a canvas for your favorite flavor combinations.  Pear and blue cheese, caramelized onions and gruyere, apple, beet and goat cheese, pesto, olives and tomatos.  The combinations are endless.

The Basics:

There are a couple of basics that you need to get down, and once you have them, the pizza-making world opens up to you.  Consider the following:

1. Equipment

There are a few special items that you need to make great pizzas.  First, you need to have a pizza baking stone.  I have had a few, they kept breaking until I got this one.  It’s amazing and has lasted for ~9 years.

Next, you need a pizza peel.  There is simply no better way to get raw or cooked pizza around the kitchen and in and out of the oven.  For me, there is no substitute for unfinished wood.  Unfinished wood provides a great surface (with a little flour) for uncooked pizza dough.  Even better, the unfinished wood absorbs the stream from cooked dough, so your crust doesn’t absorb the steam and become less-than-perfectly crisp.  Bamboo and metal are simply not as good.  Here is a good one to try.

2. Dough

You need to find your go-to pizza dough.  I highly advise against the shelf-stable, the mixes, and the the stuff in the refrigerated tubes.  (Though I have been known to tear into a package of Boboli crust in a pinch.)  The good stuff is actual dough – an actual ball of pizza dough, found in the refrigerated or in the frozen section of the grocery store  (or purchased from your favorite local pizzaria).  You let it come to room temperature and stretch, roll and pull it into shape.  For me, you can’t beat the Whole Foods packaged dough.  Here is another one that I love that is local to Seattle.  Trader Joes also makes an excellent tasting dough, but I have found that it is MUCH more difficult to work with (very sticky).  If you are new to working with dough, opt for Whole Foods refrigerated dough.

3. Method

I have a specific method for working with pizza dough that I find yields an excellent result.  The crust ends up crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  Perfection.  The secret is placing the raw dough on your pizza stone at the highest temp your oven will allow, and cooking until it is lightly browned on the bottom.  Then, you remove the crust from the oven and flip it over so that the browned side is on top.  Top the browned side of the pizza with your sauce, veggies and cheese, then return it to the oven to finish cooking.  Genius.  You can also rub the browned side of the crust with cut or smashed garlic cloves before topping it to add a garlic flavor and fragrance to the crust.

I like this cooking method because it allows me to rub the crust with garlic and use sauces that might be more difficult to spread evenly, like pesto.  If this seems like a lot of steps to you, you can always top the raw dough and cook it without the remove and flip step.  If you use this approach, I recommend raising the rack in your oven so that it is closer to the top of the oven.  This will prevent the bottom of the crust from cooking more quickly than the top.

 Now that you have the basics down, let’s get creative!!  Here are some of my favorite veggie pizza combinations.  Many of these are excellent prepared vegan as well.

Grilled Vegetable Pesto Pizza

 

Veggie-Loaded Pesto Pizza
This a healthy pizza loaded with tons of veggies. It makes a great one-dish meal. With all of these veggies I don't even make a salad when I make this. This is also a great vegan pizza if you omit the cheese.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package of frozen for refrigerated pizza dough
  2. 1/2 cup vegan pesto or prepared pesto
  3. 1 large clove garlic
  4. An assortment of your favorite veggies such as
  5. - halved cherry tomatoes or thinly-sliced roma tomatos
  6. - grilled zucchini
  7. - grilled eggplant
  8. - artichoke hearts
  9. - grilled peppers
  10. - spinach or arugula leaves
  11. - thinly sliced red onion
  12. - kalamata olives
  13. - pickled or oil-packed peppers
  14. 1/2 to 1 cup crumbled goat cheese or mozzerella(optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees or according to the directions on your pizza dough or crust.
  2. Prepare pizza dough using my method above or according to package directions.
  3. If using my flip method, rub par-cooked pizza dough with garlic clove.
  4. Spread pesto on pizza dough.
  5. Top with vegetables and cheese (if using)
  6. Bake at 500 degrees until dough is cooked, cheese is melted and toppings are heated:~ 5-12 minutes.
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Mexican Pizza with Cilantro Lime Crema

Mexican Pizza with Cilantro Lime Crema
The cilantro lime crema will make your crust-leavers eat their crusts.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package frozen or refrigerated pizza dough
  2. 1/2 enchilada sauce (Rick Bayless makes some great prepared enchilada sauces)
  3. 3 veggie burgers, grilled on a cast iron gill pan and cut or crumbled into chunks (I like Morningstar Farms Vegan Grillers)*
  4. 1 cup pepper jack cheese (optional)
  5. 1 ripe tomato, chopped
  6. 1 cup lettuce, chopped
  7. 1 large handful cilantro, chopped
  8. 1 small avacado, chopped
  9. salt and pepper
  10. 1 batch Cilantro Lime Crema
Instructions
  1. Prepare pizza dough according to package directions or using my method above.
  2. Spread enchilada sauce on pizza dough
  3. Top veggie burger crumbles or dollops of black bean dip and cheese (if using).
  4. Bake until dough is cooked and toppings are heated.
  5. Top with remaining vegetables and serve with cilantro lime crema on the side.
Notes
  1. *Though not a staple in my cooking, I do occasionally dabble in meat facsimiles. This recipe uses frozen veggie burgers. If you aren't into fake meat, you could use my black bean dip (added to the pizza in several dollops over the enchilada sauce) instead with equally great results.
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thai pizza

Thai Veggie Pizza
I love Thai curry. This is a creative way to showcase Thai flavors in a vegetarian pizza.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package frozen or refrigerated pizza dough (Ok, you caught me. I didn't have any dough on hand so I used a Boboli crust.)
  2. 1/2 cup coconut curry sauce (prepared or homemade)*
  3. 1 small red bell pepper, sliced into rings
  4. 1/4 cup bamboo shoots, thinly sliced
  5. 1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
  6. 1 cup mozzarella cheese (optional)
  7. 1 handful of cilantro leaves
Instructions
  1. Prepare pizza dough according to package directions
  2. Top dough with curry sauce, vegetables and cheese (if using).
  3. Bake at 500 degrees (or according to the package directions on your dough or crust) until dough is cooked and toppings are heated.
  4. Garnish with cilantro leaves.
Notes
  1. *There are a number of great prepared curry sauces in grocery store. Maya Kaimal makes some great sauces. However, it's really easy to make your own using coconut milk, a prepared curry paste, brown sugar, fish sauce and lime juice.
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 apple and caremelized onion pizza

Caramelized Onion, Apple and Gruyere Pizza
This is a great pizza for fall. Cut into small pieces, it's a great appetizer for holiday entertaining.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 - 2 medium onions thinly sliced lengthwise (from root to tip)*
  2. 3 TBSP olive oil, divided
  3. 1 tsp fresh thyme
  4. salt and pepper
  5. 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar (optional)
  6. 1 batch pizza dough or prepared pizza crust
  7. 1 medium granny smith apple, thinly sliced crosswise (a mandoline is ideal for this)
  8. 6-10 sage leaves
  9. 1 large clove garlic
  10. 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  11. thyme sprigs, fresh parsley and balsamic glaze for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a cast iron or other large skillet on medium heat
  2. Add onions to pan and allow them to cook without stirring for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir onions to expose more raw onions to the bottom of the pan and allow them to sit for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Continue the stirring and letting sit process for 15-25 minutes until onions are deeply browned and caramelized.
  5. Add thyme, salt and pepper to onions and set aside.
  6. Prepare pizza dough using my flip method above or according to package directions.
  7. If using my flip method, rub garlic on par-cooked crust.
  8. Brush dough/crust with remaining 1 TBSP of olive oil and top with caramelized onions.
  9. Top onion mixture with apple slices and gruyere.
  10. Add sage leaves on top of the cheese and season pizza with salt and pepper.
  11. Bake in 500 degree oven (or according to package directions on dough/ crust) until dough is cooked through and cheese is melted and bubbling, ~ 5-10 minutes.
Notes
  1. *I was reading a Michael Chiarello cookbook a few months ago and came across something interesting that I have put into use ever since: slicing onions lengthwise instead of crosswise. You cut the tips off both ends of the onion (root and top) and then cut the onion in half lengthwise, root to tip. From there you create your onion slices, slicing from root to tip. This approach yields shorter and more even slices and prevents long stringy pieces that can be unappealing.
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peanut pizza

Veggie Pizza with Thai Peanut Sauce
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Ingredients
  1. 1 batch pizza dough
  2. 1 clove garlic
  3. 1 batch peanut sauce
  4. 1 cup broccoli florets
  5. 1/2 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
  6. 1/4 small diakon radish, cut into matchsticks
  7. 1 cup shredded mozzerella (optional)
Instructions
  1. Prepare dough using my method above or according to package directions. If using my method, rub par-baked crust with garlic clove.
  2. Spread peanut sauce on pizza and top with broccoli and cheese (if using).
  3. Bake at 500 degrees or according to package directions for 5-10 minutes or until dough is golden and cheese is melted.
  4. Remove from oven and garnish with carrot, daikon and cilantro.
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beet and apple pizza

This pizza is a delectable way to use winter greens.

Apple, Beet and Goat Cheese Pizza
This is a fantastic, colorful and light pizza.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package pizza dough
  2. 1 large apple (I like granny smith for this recipe), thinly sliced crosswise on a mandoline to create thin circles
  3. 1 medium beet*, thinly sliced crosswise on a mandoline to create thin circles
  4. 1 large clove of garlic
  5. 1 TBSP olive oil
  6. 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  7. 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
  8. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Prepare dough according to my method above, or per package directions.
  2. If using my method above, rub cooked side of pizza crust with raw garlic, if you are dressing raw pizza dough, just mince up the garlic and top the pizza with it.
  3. Brush crust with olive oil and top with mozarella.
  4. Top pizza with apple slices, and top each apple slice with a beet slice.
  5. Sprinkle goat cheese evenly over pizza and place in oven to bake.
  6. Bake at 500 degrees or according to package directions for ~5-10 minutes or until dough is golden and mozzarella is melted.
  7. Let sit for 5-10 minutes prior to cutting.
Notes
  1. *Though I have always felt that the flavor of chioggia beets is inferior to red or gold beets, I like to use a chioggia beet in this recipe because the thin slices of the candy-striped vegetable make for a beautiful presentation.
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
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pizza with chard and smoked mozzerella

Winter Chard Pizza with Smoked Mozzerella
This pizza will get even the pickiest eaters eating their greens.
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cloves garlic, roasted*, plus 1 clove thinly sliced
  2. 4 TBSP olive oil, divided
  3. salt and pepper
  4. 1/4 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1 bunch swiss chard, or 1/2 bunch swiss chard and 1/2 bunch kale (stems and leaves), finely chopped
  6. 1 package pizza dough
  7. 1/4 cup freshly grated parmaganio reggiano
  8. 1/2 cup smoked mozzerella, grated
  9. 1/2 cup shredded italian blend cheese or shredded mozzerella
  10. 1 TBSP flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  11. 1 TBSP aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven (with pizza stone) to 500 degrees.
  2. Using the back of your knife, smash roasted garlic cloves into a paste.
  3. In a small bowl, combine roasted garlic paste, 2 TBSP olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Heat 2 TBSP olive oil on medium heat in large sautee pan.
  5. Add onion and sliced raw garlic to oil and cook for ~2 minutes.
  6. Add chard/kale, salt and pepper and sautee for another 5 minutes, until the greens are wilted.
  7. Add vegetable broth and sautee for another ~3 minutes until liquid has evaporated.
  8. Set aside greens mixture.
  9. Prepare dough according to my method above, or per package directions.
  10. Spread olive oil/ roasted garlic mixture on pizza crust.
  11. Sprinkle oiled crust with parmigiano reggiano.
  12. Evenly distribute chard/kale mixture over pizza crust.
  13. Top with smoked mozzerella and italian cheese blend or mozzerella.
  14. Place pizza in oven and cook until cheese is melted and starting to brown, approximately 5-8 minutes.
  15. Remove pizza from oven, sprinkle with parsley and aleppo (if using) and serve.
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 Finally, the classic Italian-style thin crust pizza:

 buffala pizza

Pizza Margarita
The classic Italian pizza with tomato, basil and fresh buffalo milk mozzarella.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package of pizza dough
  2. 2 cloves garlic, one left whole and one minced
  3. 2/3 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree*
  4. 1 tsp dried oregano
  5. 1 tsp dried marjoram
  6. 1/2 8oz container buffalo mozerella, sliced
  7. 10 fresh basil leaves, torn
  8. 1 TBSP olive oil
  9. salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Prepare pizza dough using my method above or according to package directions.
  2. If using my method, rub par-baked crust with whole garlic clove.
  3. Top crust with 2/3 cup of tomato puree, and sprinkle with minced garlic, and dried herbs.
  4. Place sliced rounds of cheese on pizza and top with basil leaves.
  5. Cook pizza in 500 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until dough is cooked through and cheese is melted.
  6. Remove pizza from oven, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Notes
  1. *For this simple and classic pizza I use San Marzano tomato puree
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