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Pizza sans Cheese


 

How to make great pizza, and not miss the cheese.

 

There are many reasons to avoid eating cheese. For health reasons – cheese can trigger migraines; you may be allergic/intolerant to dairy products or counting calories/on a weight loss diet. For ethical reasons – you may be cutting down on the amount of dairy and meat you consume, or follow a vegan diet.

The ethical issues of the environment and animal welfare certainly made me cut down on the amount of dairy, eggs and meat I consume, however I stopped eating cheese about eighteen months ago, when my gastroenterologist put me on a controlled elimination diet and I feel a good deal better when I don’t eat dairy at all.

Homemade Pizza is a great favourite in our household, it’s comfort food, and a staple of our celebration and party food. Pizza means cheese, and lots of it. So, it was with a good deal of trepidation that I attempted that first cheese-less pizza!

Homemade pizza is still a great favourite in our household. It is still comfort food, and still served at celebrations. Will you believe me when I tell you that I don’t miss cheese and enjoy cheese-less pizza better than a cheese-laden one? It’s true!

This recipe makes two 10/12” pizzas.

Here is how we make pizza.

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough:

Use your favourite pizza base or make a dough as follows:

½ teaspoon dried yeast

300g pizza flour or strong white flour or strong gluten free flour

½ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

200ml water (slightly warm water is best to activate the yeast)

 

We make our pizza dough in a bread maker – it has a 45-minute pizza dough setting. We add the ingredients to the bread maker pan in the order they are shown.

If you don’t have a bread maker add all the ingredients to a large bowl and combine. Use the dough hook on an electric mixer, or knead by hand. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a tea towel. Leave the dough to prove (rise) for about 30 minutes – it should double in size.

 

Split the dough into two portions and roll each out into a thin round.

Now you have a choice – you can either bake the bases at 200C/392F/gas mark 6, for 8-10 minutes, or put the topping on the uncooked base. It really depends on how thick you’ve made the base, how much topping you are going to add, and how crispy you want the base to be. Very thin bases with minimal topping won’t need pre-baking. A thick crust, fully loaded pizza will probably benefit from having the crust pre-cooked.

 

Topping:

½ cup tinned chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon sundried tomato puree, or tomato puree

½ teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs

Small clove of garlic, finely minced – or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon (approx.) olive oil

Salt and pepper

About half a jar of grilled roasted artichokes

Half a red bell or sweet pointed pepper – thinly sliced (optional)

½ cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

3 tablespoons vegan parmesan cheese.

 

Combine the tomatoes, puree, herbs and garlic together into a thick paste. Add the olive oil until you get a nice spreading consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over the pizza bases.

Place pieces of artichoke evenly across the pizza and add toppings of your choice. Pepper and mushrooms are always a hit in our house. You could use sweetcorn, pineapple, onion, roasted sweet potato, roasted butternut squash, rocket. Whatever you fancy.

Sprinkle a generous layer of vegan parmesan over the top of the pizza and cook at 200/220C (392/428F, Gas mark 6/7) for 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Time for lunch – a versatile vegetable and bean soup.


 

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” Orson Welles

A brisk walk in the winter sunshine was just what I needed today. A busy Christmas and a very heavy cold over New Year have knocked my energy levels significantly, so exercise has been quite low on my list of priorities over the last week or so. Today was the first day I felt motivated to get back on track, so I donned my running gear at lunchtime and marched around a steep up and down three-mile loop, accompanied by my lovely husband and dog. Lunch needed to be quick, nourishing and warm. Soup! I made this creamy, wholesome and tasty soup for two in around 15/20 minutes.

 

I used:

A large potato, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 stick celery, grated

1 tin butter beans OR cannellini beans in water

1 cup frozen sweetcorn

1 teaspoon Swiss Bouillon powder (optional)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon ground pepper (I used white pepper)

1 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

 

Method:

I used my food processor to grate the potato, carrot and celery – speed is of the essence when you’re hungry.

Add the grated veg, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper and bouillon to a heavy bottomed sauce pan, cover with water (I used boiling water from the kettle to speed up the process) and simmer.

Blend the beans in a food processor into a thick liquid. I used the water from the can but you can rinse the beans and use fresh water if they are canned in salted water.

Add the beans, turmeric and sweetcorn to the soup. Heat through, serve and enjoy. I sprinkled a teaspoon of vegan parmesan on top of mine.