All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015
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See that mozzarella above? It is vegan and I posted my attempt at The Artisan Vegan Life’s recipe for it HERE. My only problem with the result was that the cheese had a bit of a sour tang to it because it was made with vegan yogurt. While I found that unpleasant when eating the cheese naked (because it seemed like real cheese that had gone bad) – I still had high hopes for what it would be like on pizza. I felt that – if this cheese had other flavors competing with it – the mild sour flavor might disappear. I was also curious about its melting abilities.
My first attempt with a pizza is above. I used Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce because I love it & because I felt it would have enough flavor to make the sour yogurt element of the cheese go away. I also made the pizza with half REAL mozzarella – so I could properly compare the melting.
On the top right of that image above, you can see how the real cheese melted – completely melted & released some fat & looks ooey-gooey delicious – and it was. The rest of the image shows the vegan mozzarella. While it never lost its shape – it did soften – a lot. And more importantly – the sour flavor was undetectable! Big victory! Still – this cheese would never fool a real cheese whore – but I bet it would make a lot of vegans VERY happy – and really is a solid replacement for real cheese – whatever your reasons for wanting to avoid real cheese might be – beyond being vegan. Also – melted – it has a texture very much like ricotta so – I imagine – this would be amazing in a vegan lasagna.
Encouraged by the success of the first pizza – I decided to make another – but one with more subtle flavors so I could see if the sour flavor was still mitigated.
I decided to make this Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress – primarily because I had been baking sweet potatoes for my dogs & they smelled so fucking good – I had to use some. I also, predictably, had some random produce that was on the verge of spoiling (asparagus & watercress, to be specific) – so this pizza was born. If you can’t find watercress – arugula would be great, too. It is a VERY mild pizza – so – in lieu of watercress and arugula – you could top this with some fried sage or fresh, chopped rosemary before baking it for an even more autumnal combination of flavors.
And – good news! Despite the mild flavors – the cheese blended in beautifully & the sour flavor was imperceptible. And – as you can see in the photos – it did actually melt & brown. So – I recommend The Artisan Vegan Life’s vegan mozzarella very highly.
Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress
As with most of my pizzas – I suggest ingredients but not the quantity to be used because that is up to each person’s personal preference.
Pizza dough (I used this no-rise Easy Thin Crust Pizza dough)
Vegan sour cream
Slices of boiled or baked sweet potato (cut thinner than 1/4 inch)
Asparagus (tough ends removed like THIS)
Watercress or arugula
Cooking spray (I used an olive oil type)
Semolina flour (optional) or regular flour – for rolling your dough
Heat the oven to 500 – or as close as your oven gets to that.
Prepare your veggies.
Put a little semolina (or regular) flour on a flat surface & roll your dough out. Place it on a greased cooking sheet (or – better yet – use parchment paper). Put a thin layer of sour cream on top & then arrange the sweet potato slices & asparagus. Top with slices of mozzarella & a good dose of S&P.
Cook for 10-12 minutes (more or less – depending on your oven & the density of your pizza). About half way through – I sprayed olive oil on the mozzarella & I think that helped it brown, a bit. When your crust is done to your liking & the cheese has softened (maybe even melted & browned a bit) – take it out & top with watercress or arugula. Yummy!