13-11: Vegetarian Pizza

Just like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I appreciate a good slice of pizza. ? I wouldn’t normally order a vegetarian pizza. Does the Meat Lovers’ special come with 4 or 5 different meats on it?

I haven’t made pizza dough before. I briefly made bread when we scored a bread machine from a thrift store. After using the bread machine 2 or 3 times, I got to see why all of those bread machines are abandoned at the thrift store. Either my process was not good or the machine stopped working correctly after about 2 loaves of bread.

The recipe advises to make 4 small pizzas or one large pizza. I made 2 medium pizzas because they fit perfectly on the sheet pan that way.

I substituted green onions for leek and went light on the cottage cheese because there is a lot of lactose in soft cheese. I used up all of the cheddar jack shown and then used a second layer of mozzarella cheese, a more traditional pizza cheese, however I left the mozzarella out of the photo because I didn’t know how short I was, cheese-wise.

The basic ingredients (aside from water, from the sink next to the yeast) for the dough. I forgot to put the pinch of salt into the dough. The final product might have tasted a little better with a shot of salt in the dough. The dough looked and tasted like an unsalted cracker.

The ball of dough as I finished mixing it in the bowl. I put this bowl on top of the fridge for 30 minutes to rise. While that was rising, I prepared my vegetables and sauce.

I chopped the green onion very fine. Working on these recipes has given me a lot of opportunity to practice my knife skills.

Slicing tomatoes isn’t easy. My serrated knife doesn’t exactly cut like a Ginsu knife from the infomercial, but it gets the job done. I got enough slices to cover my pizzas from the 4 tomatoes.

Slicing mushrooms is fun. The knife flows through the meaty flesh of the mushroom like butter. The mushrooms in the sauce filled in some of the missing bulk usually provided by the meat.

With a little oil in the skillet, I tossed in the mushrooms, minced garlic, and green onion. Over medium heat, I sautéed these all together until they were aromatic and soft.

In the same skillet as the mushrooms, I added a can of puréed tomatoes, the cottage cheese, and a dash of soy sauce.

The final sauce all combined looks more like a lasagna sauce than a pizza sauce. I added the herb salt and the Italian seasoning and it tasted more pizza-rific.

Working with dough is not easy. I ripped so many holes into the dough and couldn’t form a circle at all. This is half of the dough ball, flattened on a sheet pan, about to go into the 425ºF oven.

After ten minutes of baking, the top dough came out super crunchy. The bottom dough was barely cooked so I put it back in the oven while I prepared the first pizza. When that dough came out, it looked roughly like the one in this picture. It only needed another few minutes on the top of the oven. Jamie has told me many times that you have to flip the pans in our oven to get both pans to come out even.

I spread the sauce onto the hot, unsalted, cracker crust and cracked the hole you can see in the lower right corner of the pizza. The other pizza looks roughly the same, so I’m only showing photos of this one.

The recipe advises you to place the tomatoes on top of the sauce, but under the cheese. Jamie taught me a pizza method that I prefer: crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, more cheese. This pizza came out a little runny and the tomatoes separated the cheese layer because the tomatoes were not held in place by a layer of cheese underneath.

The pizza is topped with cheddar jack and a thin layer of mozzarella. I had just enough cheese to cover both pizzas.

Check out the pizza after 5 minutes on the bottom rack and 5 minutes on the top rack. Flipping the pans really helped both pizzas come out even and the crust didn’t burn on either one.

The final product came out really nice. The crust was cracker-y, the cheese was very melt-y, and the sauce was very pizza-tasting-y. Overall, kind of bland. The Turtles would not approve.

Grade: B