As hubby reached for his third slice of my veggie pizza, he grunted, “Make sure you write down the recipe.”
Woah, write it down?
That was how I knew I had a winner on my hands. Hubby has never explicitly requested me to write down a recipe before.
Who thought a VEGETARIAN PIZZA made using STORE-BOUGHT PIZZA CRUST would turn out to be one of the best pizzas I’ve ever eaten?
A couple of tricks and tips that I had scoured the internet and studied dozens of recipes for. Yes, that’s right – I’ve done all the research so you don’t have to :))
How to turn your pizza from HO-HUM to AWESOME!!!!!
1. Pre-cook your vegetables before putting it on top of your pizza.
Nothing ruins a pizza for me like the taste of raw, undercooked peppers, mushrooms and onions. Most store bought pizza crusts instruct you to pop them in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes… where got enough time to cook your veg lah?
Avoid this by sauteing the veg BEFORE you put them on your pizza. Pre-cooking does two things. One, it adds caramelization, which translates into flavour. And two, cooking will extract the moisture from your raw veggies, so it doesn’t soak into your pizza and make it soggy!
2. Spread a thin layer of oil (or butter) on top of your uncooked pizza crust BEFORE you put the tomato sauce on top. The layer of fat protects the dry-er dough from the wet sauce and fillings, preventing your pizza from becoming soggy.
3. Forget pizza sauce, just use canned chopped tomatoes or mashed raw tomatoes.
A lot of recipe developers recommend using raw tomatoes to form the sauce. Just open a can of chopped tomatoes (mashed raw tomatoes are also ok), season it with salt and pepper. Use a potato masher to make the mixture more saucy. It’s easy – you don’t need to add another product you hardly use (i.e. pizza sauce) to your larder.
Follow these tips and I guarantee you’ll have one of the best home-made veggie pizzas you’ve ever tasted!
Having said that, there are times when I have an intense pizza craving and can’t be arsed to make my own. If you’re in Ipoh, I highly recommend 718pizza, an indie eatery that serves scrumptious hand-tossed New York Style pizzas.
Yummy Veggie Pizza
- 1 store-bought pizza crust
- 1/3 cup chopped canned tomatoes
- 8-10 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 2 shallots or 1/4 big yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp mixed Italian herbs (like Opah herbs)
- 1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Handful basil leaves, removed from stalk
- Handful shredded cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven. In a saucepan, heat up 1 tbsp of olive oil and add mushrooms, bell pepper and onions. Saute until soft and mushrooms begin to caramelize. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
- Now, prepare your pizza sauce. Using a potato masher or fork, mash tomatoes until saucy, then add salt and pepper. (Non-vegetarians: you can also mash 1-2 anchovy fillets and add to the sauce to give it a real salty boost.)
- Preheat oven (follow instructions on your pizza box).
- Spread a thin layer of olive oil on your pizza crust. Now, spread your pizza sauce on top.
- (Optional) Over the sauce, I like to sprinkle a layer of grated parmesan cheese. You can skip this step but it adds a nice layer of savouriness to the mixture.
- Now, layer your cooked vegetables on top.
- Over this, scatter the basil leaves. Basil leaves are delicate so if you lay them on top of everything, exposed directly to the high oven heat, they will burn and you don't want that!
- The last ingredient to go on should be shredded cheese. Try to include mozzarella as it will give it the cheese pull effect. Don't be stingy with your cheese - nothing worse than a pizza with insufficient cheese!
- Pop into pre-heated oven and bake until cheese is golden and bubbly. Serve!
- How to choose the right vegetables? Think of contrasting textures and flavour contributors when choosing your veggie combo. Mushrooms are always a good bet because they are naturally endowed with umami and you don't need too many additional seasonings. Onions add sweetness, while bell peppers contribute sweetness and crunch. You get the idea 🙂
- While sauteing your vegetables, you can also add dried herbs (such as Opah Herbs) for that extra depth of flavour.