Vegan Grilled Pumpkin Pizza with Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread, Pepita and Sage Pesto and Rosemary-Garlic Oil Recipe

Yield: 2 pizzas/8 servings (2 slices per serving)

The irresistibly adorable pumpkins at my favorite farm market inspired this pizza.  I’ve enjoyed it three or four times this week with my Vegan Caramelized Onion and Apple Pizza and am so sad there is no more.

As I’ve said before, homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make that there is scarcely any reason to purchase it, especially since it can be frozen.  Hands on prep time is just minutes, but it does take a couple of hours to rise.  So, if you are super pressed for time and favor a brand like Trader Joe’s frozen dough, then go for it.  If you choose the purchased route, I would definitely recommend a prepared dough as opposed to a prepared crust.

My dough of choice comes from my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  My recipe calls for a combination of self-rising and whole wheat flours.  However, for the pizza pictured, I didn’t have either, so I used all white whole wheat flour with some baking powder.  The only difference I found is that it makes a softer dough and, hence, requires additional flour.  The crust made this way also benefits especially from a couple of minutes in the oven before topping it and returning it to the oven to insure that the crust doesn’t become soggy.

Make the dough at least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pizza.

 

Blooming Platter Pizza Dough:

Yield: 2 approximate 8-inch crusts

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup  plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat or all purpose flour combined with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Note:  you may substitute all white whole wheat or all-purpose flour for both of the above.  However, you will need considerably more flour, added 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.

1 teaspoon “quick rise” yeast

1 teaspoon natural sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon to oil the bowl

Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, and make a well in the center.  Add the water and 2 teaspoons olive oil to the well and stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until fully incorporated.

Knead for 5 minutes with oiled hands or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.  I knead it right in the bowl.  Do not over-knead.  Lift out the dough and pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and spread to coat the interior with your fingers.

Return the dough to the bowl, rolling it around on both sides to coat with the oil.  Cover the bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.

 

Next prepare Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil (makes sure it is super flavorful)

1 5-inch stalk of fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small cup and set aside.

Before preparing topping, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place two pizza stones (or two inverted baking sheets) into the oven and heat for 30 minutes.

 

Topping:

Approximately 1/4 cup Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread (recipe follows)

Grilled Pumpkin (recipe follows)

1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto

Optional garnish: fresh sage leaves or pineapple sage blossoms

 

Vegan Pumpkin Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread:

6 ounces Silken Firm tofu (you may you “extra firm” for a firmer end result)

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup Vegan Pepita and Sage Pesto

1 large garlic clove

Pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  You will have more than you need for this pizza.  Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Enjoy as a dip with fresh veggies, spread on bagels or sandwiches, tossed with pasta, or as a pizza sauce.

 

Grilled Pumpkin:

Approximately 3 pounds fresh pumpkin (this weight is seeded and with pulp removed, but with the skin on)

Remove the skin from pumpkin with a paring knife.  Cut pizza into bite size 1/3-inch thick slices.  Spray a grill pan with non-stick spray and preheat over medium-high.  Grill pumpkin, in two batches if necessary, for 2 to 3 minutes per side or unil tender with nice grill marks.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

 

To Assemble:

Lay two 10-inch sheets of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a work surface.    Spray each sheet lightly with non-stick pray.  With hands lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, and place one in the center of each piece of foil.

Beginning in the center of the ball and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips and palms to gently press the dough into a circle about 8 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving a slightly raised 1/4-inch wide rim.  Brush the entire surface of each very lightly with the Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil; you will likely have some left over.  Lift each piece of foil one at a time, crust and all, holding it taught, and place on one of the baking stones.  Bake for 2 minutes.  Remove the stones from the oven and spread a very thin layer (about 2 to 3 tablespoons) of Pumpkin and Pepita-Sage Pesto Spread on each crust.  Divide the pumpkin evenly between the two crusts, arranging pieces in concentric rings.  Return the stones to the oven and cook for about 7 minutes, switching the position of the stones halfway through if pizzas seem to be cooking unevenly.  Remove the stones from the oven again and dot each with about half of the Pepita and Sage Pesto (1/4 cup each).  Return the stones to the oven and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes  or until the crusts are golden and the topping is hot.  Remove the stones form the oven, slide the pizzas, one at a time, onto a cutting board, and cut each into 8 wedges.  Serve immediately garnished with sage leaves or, if you’re lucky enough to grow this herb: ravishing pineapple sage blossoms.

Note: this pizza reheats beautifully on a pizza stone in a 350 degree preheated oven for 10 minutes.

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Vegan Caramelized Onion and Apple Pizza with Smokey Cheddar Cheese and Rosemary-Garlic Oil Recipe

Yield: 2 pizzas/8 servings (2 slices per serving)

All things autumn was the inspiration for this absolutely addicting pizza.  I’ve enjoyed it three or four times this week and I have not yet had my fill!

Homemade pizza dough is so quick and easy to make that there is scarcely any reason to purchase it, especially since it can be frozen.  Hands on prep time is just minutes, but it does take a couple of hours to rise.  So, if you are super pressed for time and favor a brand like Trader Joe’s frozen dough, then go for it.  If you choose the purchased route, I would definitely recommend a prepared dough as opposed to a prepared crust.

My dough of choice comes from my Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.  My recipe calls for a combination of self-rising and whole wheat flours.  However, for the pizza pictured, I didn’t have either, so I used all white whole wheat flour with some baking powder.  The only difference I found is that it makes a softer dough and, hence, requires additional flour.  The crust made this way also benefits from a couple of minutes in the oven before topping it and returning it to the oven to insure that the crust doesn’t become soggy.

Make the dough at least 3 hours before you plan to serve the pizza.

Blooming Platter Pizza Dough

Yield: 2 approximate 8-inch crusts

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or 3/4 cup  plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat or all purpose flour combined with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder and a scant 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt)

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour

Note:  you may substitute all white whole wheat or all-purpose flour for both of the above.  However, you will need considerably more flour, added 1/4 cup at a time, until dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.

1 teaspoon “quick rise” yeast

1 teaspoon natural sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons tepid water

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1 teaspoon to oil the bowl

Place all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl, stir to combine, and make a well in the center.  Add the water and 2 teaspoons olive oil to the well and stir the wet and dry ingredients together with a fork until fully incorporated.

Knead for 5 minutes with oiled hands or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but slightly sticky.  I knead it right in the bowl.  Do not over-knead.  Lift out the dough and pour the remaining teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the bowl and spread to coat the interior with your fingers.

Return the dough to the bowl, rolling it around on both sides to coat with the oil.  Cover the bowl loosely with a damp kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.  While the dough rises, prepare the other ingredients.

Next prepare Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil:

1/4 cup olive oil (makes sure it is super flavorful)

1 5-inch stalk of fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a small cup and set aside.

 

Prepare the Apple Cider Vinegar Reduction:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoon maple syrup

Pinch sea salt

Combine ingredients in a 1-quart saucepan and simmer over medium-high until reduced to 1/4 cup.  Reduce heat if necessary, so that mixture doesn’t scorch.  Pour into a small ramekin or cup and set aside.

Before preparing topping, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place two pizza stones (or two inverted baking sheets) into the oven and heat for 30 minutes.

Caramelized Onion and Apple Topping:

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium-large yellow onion, thinly sliced

4 small-medium apples, stemmed, cored, cut into 1/4-inch wedges; cut wedges crosswise into 3 to 4 pieces

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cup Blooming Platter Smokey Cheddar Vegan Cheese Spread

Optional garnish: fresh rosemary sprigs

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, for approximately 15 minutes or until onions are beginning to develop a golden color.  Reduce heat if necessary to prevent onions from scorching.  Add apple, 2 tablespoons of the Apple Cider Vinegar Reduction, and a pinch of salt, and continue sauteing and stirring about 10 minutes, or until onion is deeply colored and apple is tender and has developed some color.   Add water, a teaspoon at a time as needed if mixture appears to be drying out.  Check for salt and adjust if necessary.  Remove the skillet from the heat.

To Assemble:

Remove the rosemary from the olive oil, strip the leaves off the stalk, mince, and set aside.

Lay two 10-inch sheets of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a work surface.    Spray each sheet lightly with non-stick pray.  With hands lightly dusted with flour, divide the dough in half, shape each half into a ball, and place one in the center of each piece of foil.

Beginning in the center of the ball and working your way to the edges, use your fingertips and palms to gently press the dough into a circle about 8 1/2 inches in diameter, leaving a slightly raised 1/4-inch wide rim.  Brush the entire surface of each very lightly with the Rosemary-Garlic Olive Oil; you will likely have some left over.  Lift each piece of foil one at a time, crust and all, holding it taught, and place on one of the baking stones.  Bake for 2 minutes.  Remove the stones from the oven and divide the onion-apple topping between the two crusts, spreading evenly to the rims.  Divide the Cheese Spread between the pizzas, dotting the top of each with teaspoon-size dollops.  Sprinkle each with half of the minced rosemary.  Return the stones to the oven and cook the pizzas for 9-11 minutes or until the crust is golden and the topping is bubbly, switching the position of the stones halfway through if pizzas seem to be cooking unevenly.  Remove the stones from the oven and slide the pizzas, one at a time, onto a cutting board.  Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon of the remaining Apple Cider Vinegar and cut each into 8 wedges.  Serve immediately garnished with fresh rosemary sprigs.

Note:  this pizza reheats beautifully on a pizza stone in a preheated 3350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

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Vegan Green Chilies Casserole

Yield: 4-6 servings

What is the largest section of the local church cookbook?  Probably casseroles, the ultimate comfort food, at least for those of a certain persuasion.

When I was a kid, my mom, Sallie Gough, made one that I have not seen anywhere before or since:  Green Chilies Casserole.  It was a fairly creamy and nicely spiced amalgamation of ground beef, onion, sauteed tortillas, diced green tomatoes, and green chilies all held together with, yep, condensed cream-of-something soup.  And surely there was some melted cheese in the mix too.

While I don’t cook or eat like that any longer,  I do have fond memories of that casserole, including making it.  It was super-satisfying to eat, fun to assemble, and created an intoxicating aroma in the kitchen.  So, when I was at the farmer’s market a couple of days ago, the green tomatoes were firm and beautiful.  I instantly thought of mom’s signature casserole and the tempeh at home in my fridge that would substitute nicely for the ground beef.  To stand in for the canned soup and cheese, I decided to make a simple creamy vegan cheese sauce.   And I substituted green salsa with green chilies for the can of green chilies for extra moisture and flavor without an overwhelming green chili taste.

It’s been a lot of years since I last had this casserole, but to the best of my recollection, my vegan version comes close and is a LOT lighter yet it still has that creamy-comfort factor.  I hope it beomes a staple at your house.

Cheese Sauce:

1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashew halves or pieces

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup total unsweetened soymilk and beer or nonalcoholic beer (I like about 5-6 tablespoons of soymilk and 2-3 tablespoons beer)

pinch garlic powder

pinch onion powder

pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Casserole:

2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, divided

4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

sea salt to taste

1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1-8 ounce package tempeh (any flavor)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup green salsa (salsa verde), homemade or prepared (these salsas typically contain tomatillos, green chilies, and cilantro)

1 large green tomato, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and tender stems)

Freshly ground black pepper

about 7 small dollops vegan sour cream

Garnish: sprigs of fresh cilantro and a sprinkling of smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a small round baking dish and set aside.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil to shimmering.  Add tortilla pieces and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently until they soften and start to develop some color, approximately 3 minutes.  Transfer tortillas to a small bowl and set aside.  Add remaining oil to the skillet, heat, and saute onion until softened, approximately 3 minutes.   Crumble tempeh into the pan, add garlic and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring frequently, until tempeh is heated through and just begins to develop some color, again about 3 minutes.  As the mixture starts to dry out, add 1/4 cup of the green salsa and stir well.  Add green tomato, cumin, and smoked paprika, and saute, still stirring frequently, about 5 minutes, adding the remaining 1/2 cup green salsa during the cooking process.  Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and tortilla pieces, and season to taste with salt and pepper.   Then stir in half of the cheese sauce and spoon into prepared casserole dish.  Drizzle remaining cheese sauce over the surface of the casserole dish and dollop with sour cream (I place 6 dollops in a circle and one in the center).  Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through and top appears creamy, but slightly set.  Serve hot garnished with fresh cilantro sprigs and a dusting of smoked paprika.

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Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” Spread with Savory Blackberry Chutney

Pulpy, glistening blackberries…savory bursts of clean, complex flavors…little taste explosions in every mouthful.  This chutney is to die for!

In my previous post, I said that my Smoky Vegan “Ricotta” and Green Grape-Spring Onion Salsa became an instant favorite upon creation.

But wait!  This one, made the same day, but  not tasted on an actual crostini until last night, rivals it–I wouldn’t want to have to pick a #1!

The truth is that I wasn’t sure how I was even gong to use the chutney or, for that matter, that I was going to make a chutney.  But I had come home from Stoney’s Farmer’s Market on the weekend with some fresh Pungo blackberries and, not wanting them to spoil as berries tend to do so quickly, I decided to go ahead and use them.

I wasn’t in a dessert mood, and I didn’t want to use them raw, as they were on the tart side.  So, when I thought of a chutney, I was excited by the possibilities, but gave myself this kitchen challenge:  to see how complex (and delicious!) I could make the flavor without muddying it or masking the taste of the blackberries.

The response to my challenge is this very special chutney.  You won’t even believe how amazing it is by itself or on a crostini with my Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” Spread.  In fact, dinner last night was a pairing of crostini: these and the ones mentioned above (I’d eaten lots of leafy greens for lunch, so I allowed myself).  It was a light meal of beautiful contrasts in colors, flavors and textures.  Perfect with a glass of 2009 Green Fin organic white table wine (a new top choice) after a very hot dog walk and a Pilates class.  Cheers!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon red wine (anything drinkable will do and will only change the flavor slightly)

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon anise seeds

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 pint fresh blackberries

leaves only from a 6-inch piece fresh rosemary

up to 1/3 cup natural sugar (adjust depending on tartness of berries)

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Accompaniments: Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” Spread and crackers or toasts, including thinly sliced grilled or toasted bread rounds

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, bring olive oil to shimmering.  Add onion and saute a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add garlic and continue sauteeing and stirring for another couple of minutes or until onion and garlic are soft and onion is starting to develop a slight amount of color.

Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, for approximately 20 minutes or until flavors are beautifully combined and the mixture has become pulpy.  It will thicken as it cools.  Serve chilled or at room temperature with my Vegan Cheddar “Cheese” Spread or your favorite vegan “cheese” on crackers or toasts.   It would also be delicious on something like grilled or broiled tempeh “steaks.”

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Vegan Crostini with Cream Cheese and Caramelized Onion-Cranberry Chutney

Yield: 4 small servings (the onions cook down considerably)

You’ve probably been seeing versions of this ‘in” appetizer in the fall culinary magazines. And there’s good reason! Besides being pretty and festive, there is nothing not to love about it.

My version is similar to all of the others, but uses vegan cream cheese or my vegan goat “cheese” as the first layer. Folks who don’t care for onion will change their minds once they take the first bite of these onions’ rich, golden-brown and earthy sweetness offset by sweet-tart cranberries and a hint of mellow pungency from balsamic vinegar.

Spooning the onion mixture atop a layer of luscious white “cheese” that has been smoothed over crunchy grilled bread or a whole grain cracker (in a pinch) makes for one scrumptious appetizer.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, halved, peeled, and cut crosswise into thin slices
coarse sea or kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
2 medium-large cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 tablespoons dried cranberries
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
optional: 1/4 teaspoon or so of dried thyme or minced rosemary (use about 3 times more if using fresh herbs)
vegan cream cheese (purchased) or vegan goat “cheese” (see my recipe below)
small piece of good bread, like ciabatta, grilled or toasted or sturdy whole grain crackers

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat olive oil to shimmering. Add onion, salt and pepper and saute, stirring frequently, until soft and beginning to turn golden. Add garlic and continue sauteing and stirring frequently until onion is golden-brown. You may add a little splash of water during the cooking process to speed it along if desired. Stir in cranberries, balsamic vinegar and optional thyme or rosemary, and cook just another minute or until cranberries are slightly softened. Remove from heat and serve atop small toasts or crackers spread with vegan cream cheese.

If you would like to make your own vegan goat “cheese,” here is a version I created that is a hit among vegans and non-vegans alike (it makes about 1 1/2 cups). If you use this recipe, here is a crowd-pleasing alternative preparation: spread the “cheese” about 1/4-1/3″ thick on a serving platter. Double the recipe for the chutney above and spoon over the top of the “cheese.” Serve with toasts or crackers.

Vegan Goat “Cheese”

14 ounces regular firm tofu (not silken)
2 garlic cloves or roasted garlic cloves
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional, but it makes the “cheese” extra yummy)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Amino Acids
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
pinch granulated sugar or raw sugar (optional, but I like it for balance)
zest of 1/2 a lemon

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth and creamy. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

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Vegan Dried Fig, Pistachio and Goat Cheese Spread

Yield: approximately 8-12 appetizer servings

This simple layered appetizer–so beautiful and sumptuous with its contrasting earthy colors, flavors and textures–is a favorite that I created during my vegetarian days. Back then, I used real goat cheese combined with cream cheese for the base. Omitting goat cheese was a given. But I also decided not to substitute vegan cream cheese, largely because of cost and calories, and to experiment instead with tofu and a few other ingredients to create the creamy bottom layer. I do believe I like the result even better than the original. The rest is the same except that I have since discovered balsamic vinegar reduction from my friend Trish, the genius of Mediterranean cuisine, so I use it in place of plain balsamic vinegar. The reduction is truly nectar of the gods, thick and tangy-sweet. But, if you are in a rush, plain balsamic is delicious too.

 

 

 

For this recipe and some 170+ more,
I invite you to purchase my first cookbook:

The Blooming Platter:
A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes

Vegan Heritage Press
Spring 2011

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