Friday Forum: Creative forms of pizza
This Friday Forum is brought to you by my friend Rae, who has encouraged me to consider a pizza that avoids meat, dairy, fish, wine and olive oil.
Like many people, I enjoy pizza. However, I also have a general disdain for imitation soy products that approximate meat and dairy products. This disdain generally means that I shift my eating during fasting periods of the Church away from meat, dairy and their approximate forms. The net result is that I have to put down pizza eating for the fasting seasons.
Or do I?
Investigations into most forms of pizza dough suggest they meet fasting criteria. Your mileage may vary, but I typically can find suitable bread products. Additionally, many of the ready made tomato sauces work quite well in pizza. I try to buy something with appropriate seasoning or at least add some oregano. Being single and lacking a food processor, trying to create a tomato puree just seems like more of a hassle than it is worth.
So we have our crust and our sauce. But what do we do about our toppings?
If I really wanted to go all out with regards to textures, then I would probably use finely diced mushrooms as my main cheese substitute. My personal experience with mushrooms on pizza is they pair quite nicely with black olives and zucchini. You could also go for the simple take of “all vegetables, all of the time” relative to your toppings, loading up any vegetables that you think go well with tomatoes. Here is someone else’s take on an appropriate vegan pizza; I’m generally not a huge fan of either eggplant and artichoke hearts so I would probably steer clear of this one for my own consumption.
As a single person, I also prefer taking a minimalistic approach to cooking pizza. Your standard oven size is just way too big for me to eat of my own accord. I find ways to cheat a bit by using toasted bread as my crust and assembling from there. Effectively, you can make a pizza as easily as you can make an open-faced vegetable sandwich. My strategy would be to saute the mushrooms and the olives together while steaming the zucchini adding aspects of Italian seasoning. At other times of the year, I make my pizzas-for-one in the same style as a grilled cheese sandwich. All I do is add tomato sauce and use shredded mozzarella.