Lately I’ve been super-into Greek flavors – lemon, garlic, red peppers, Kalamata olives, spinach – and, after combining them in the usual suspects (salads, tofu scrambles, baked potatoes, frittatas…mmm, frittatas), I decided that it was high time to put ‘em on a pizza (P.I.Z.Z.A.!).
You guys, I know I say that about all the pizzas, but this is one ridiculously good pie. Instead of red tomato sauce, I used a roasted red pepper and garlic sauce adapted from a recipe (one of my favorites!) in Donna Klein’s Vegan Italiano. It requires a little extra preparation, but trust me when I say that it’s worth it. Plus you can make your own roasted red peppers at the same time – simply set aside a few pepper strips before pulverizing the rest into sauce. Homemade roasted red peppers are way tastier than the ones in a jar. Cheaper, too.
And the lemon garlic crust? Takes this pizza to a whole ‘nother level. Using our trusty of Fluffy White Pizza Crust as a starting point, I swapped out 1/4 cup of water for lemon juice and added garlic powder and lemon peel for extra zing. I’m not really sure whether it’s just a coincidence or if the lemon juice affected the rise of the dough, but it came out a bit thinner than normal. Not thin-thin, but medium-ish. And very tasty! Definitely a winner.
Topped with roasted red peppers, black and Kalamata olives, sundried and fresh tomatoes, mozzarella Daiya cheese, and a bit of parsley. Spinach and homemade vegan feta cheese would also make nice additions, though I didn’t use them here. Feel free to swap out or add to the parsley with your own favorite spices – oregano, basil, lemon zest, and red pepper are all fine choices. Cinnamon and nutmeg are also common to Greek spice blends, though I can’t vouch for their pizza compatibility.
Greek-Style Pizza with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and a Lemon Garlic Crust
…for the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
3 red peppers (or some combination of bell peppers)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon basil
salt and pepper to taste
a dash of crush red pepper (optional)
…for the Lemon Garlic Pizza Crust
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F / 45 degrees C)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
a dash of lemon peel (optional)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
…for the pizza
Sundried tomatoes (dried, not oil-packed)
Roasted red peppers (left over from the sauce)
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
Vegan mozzarella cheese (we used Daiya) and/or homemade vegan feta
Cornmeal or cooking spray with which to coat the pizza stone or pizza pan
1. Begin my making the sauce. Preheat the oven to 475F. Lightly oil a 9″x12″ glass baking pan. Wash and seed the peppers, then cut them lengthwise into long, thin strips. In the pan, combine the peppers, oil, tomatoes, garlic, and basil; mix well. Bake at 475F for about 30 minutes, or until the peppers have begun to brown a bit. Stir halfway through. When done, allow to cool on the countertop.
2. Once the peppers have cooled, set aside six to eight strips for use on the pizza; slice them into bite-sized pieces if necessary. Pour the remaining pepper-tomato mix into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add the salt and pepper and crushed red pepper (if desired) and continue to blend. Sample the sauce and add any extra spices to taste. Set aside.
(If it’s more convenient, you can make the sauce up to a day or two in advance. Simply transfer the sauce and peppers to separate airtight containers and refrigerate until ready for use.)
3. Several hours prior to making the pizza, prepare the dough. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, yeast, lemon juice, and water; mix until completely blended. Add the salt, optional lemon zest, and olive oil and mix well. Add the flour in stages (about 1/2 cup at a time) and mix until the flour forms into dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough by hand and shape into a ball. Cover loosely with a towel and leave the dough to rise, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
4. When you’re ready to assemble and bake your pizza, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
5. To assemble the pizza, start by spreading a dusting of cornmeal onto your pizza stone (or lightly coat your pizza pan with cooking spray). Using fingers dipped in olive oil (optional), pat the dough onto the stone, spreading it out evenly.
6. Next, add your toppings. Start with the roasted red pepper sauce, followed by the sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black and Kalamata olives, mozzarella and/or feta cheese, and finally the tomatoes. Finish off with a little more cheese to bind everything together, and top with bit of parsley to taste.
Pro tip: if you have any leftover sauce, save it for use on a “personal” pita or French bread pizza, or put it on a bowl of pasta as intended. You can freeze it for longer storage.
7. Bake at 425 degrees, for between 15 and 20 minutes for a single pizza, or 30 minutes for two pizzas. Enjoy with a spinach salad. Sike! Pizza is its own vegetable.