Pizza – Vegetarian and Vegan

Baked Pizza
Home-Baked Pizza

Recently I overheard a mother talk about having her children have one turn a week to plan the meals, as long as they were healthy.  As an example of what would not do, she stated,”It can’t be pizza!” Pizza is however, one of the healthiest dinners I know.    Using whole wheat dough to make the crust, and plenty of vegetables for the topping, I don’t see where you can go wrong!  Of course if you skip the vegetables and compensate with cheese then it becomes relegated to a side dish.  If your crust is white, then it’s kind of like eating potato chips. If you’ve only ever seen this kind of pizza, no wonder you doubt it can be a nutritious meal. It is also a very fun meal to make at home.  If you have little people who like to knead dough, then let’s get this party started! In a mixing bowl, combine:

2 ½  cups whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water
1 ½  tsp active dry yeast
2 TBS honey, sugar or molasses
2 TBS cooking oil
optional:  1 ½ TBS vital wheat gluten.  This improves consistency and helps the dough rise.   Note that if you use atta rather than whole wheat flour you will need to use 1 ½ TBS wheat gluten for each cup of atta.  If possible use whole wheat flour and not atta. 

If your little ones like to watch the yeast do its thing, then mix the yeast, warm water and sweet stuff in a separate bowl and let it froth up before you mix it in with the water and flour. Knead the dough for about 20 minutes, let it rise for 45 – 60 minutes, knead again and roll it out onto your pizza pans to rise one more time, for another 45 – 60 minutes.   (You may also use a bread machine to mix and knead.)  Bake this in a preheated 350 F / 180 C oven for 15 minutes.  Now you are ready to put on the toppings. Any or all of these – usually at least one or two from each line:

onion, garlic, bell pepper, chili pepper
spinach, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms
tofu, cheese or soyacheese
broccoli, corn, olives, pineapple

Start with onions and bell peppers (simla mirchi), continue with sliced zucchini or eggplant or mushrooms, then cubed tofu pieces.  Add some cooked spinach if you want,and then top with sauce.  On top of the sauce you can sprinkle on cheese / soy cheese if you want, or you can just top with corn (off-the-cob).  With all the roasted vegetables, tofu, and sauce, a sprinkling of cheese or soyacheese complements the flavors.  After baking you can also press in some steamed broccoli, lightly salted.

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Bake at 425 F / 220 C for 15 minutes.  Turn off oven, top with oregano.  Remove from oven after 2-3 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes on the table before cutting and serving. You’re Welcome. And here’s a recipe for sauce:

Sauté  2-3 medium onions and 6-8 cloves of garlic with a dash of ajwain (వాము) (oregano seed). 
Cook 1 kg tomatoes till soft, puree in a blender.  
Add salt, some fresh or dried basil (तुलसी ) and other Italian seasonings of your choice, and the sautéed  onion and garlic.   And a dash of vinegar or lemon juice (optional).
Blend it all together and cook down until thick. 
Cousins eat vegan pizza
Vegan Pizza – topped with corn

Shortcut:  if you don’t have time to make dough or willing hands (or a bread machine) to knead it:  Just use sliced whole wheat bread.  Top with the toppings as above and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

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