“There’s very little in my world that a foot massage and a thin-crust, everything-on-it pizza won’t set right.” mystery writer G.A. McKevett/Sonja Massie
Whether it’s a night that everyone is too busy to cook or a casual office party, pizza is often a holiday mainstay. And, when you can’t have or don’t want to have meat or dairy cheese, that can be a tricky thing. Frozen versions are nearly impossible. Takeout pizza isn’t much better — as calling in a cheese-free order (or, worse, an order for a pie that is half cheese free) usually causes confusion.
The solution is to make your own pizza at home, perhaps beginning with the dough recipe in my recipe archives. And, if you make enough of it, tightly wrapping and freezing a few cooled slices or an entire pizza for when you are in a desperate hurry.
Meats (pepperoni, Italian sausage) are obvious toppings that are dairy-free. But, there are many alternatives for people who are vegetarian, vegan or simply plant-leaning. Here are three of my favorites:
Soffritto — This is basically an Italian version of finely chopped stir-fry. Carrots, celery and onions are traditional. I chop more coarsely (see top picture), cook whatever I have (garlic, kale etc.) in a bit of olive oil, and throw on a lot of Italian herbs at the end. If you pile this thickly enough over your sauce layer and sprinkle with nutritional yeast (which has a cheesy flavor) after baking, you won’t even be able to tell there isn’t dairy. (Freeze any leftover soffritto to use later in soup.)
Melted peppers and onions — In an iron skillet and on the lowest burner setting, cook colorful sweet peppers and yellow onions cut into strips in olive oil. Stir occasionally and keep cooking until veggies are so limp they appear to have “melted.” This may take as long as an hour. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt and pepper to taste at the end. (This recipe can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a week or frozen for later soup use.)
Pickled onions — You can do this the fast way, with a heated vinegar sauce, or the slow way. I like the slow way, which yields a crunchier onion. Chop one red onion into strips. Cover with apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar mixed with 1 teaspoon white sugar. Store in a tightly-sealed glass container at room temperature for 1 to 3 days. These onions should be added after baking for a bit of crunch, color and tang. (Leftovers can be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for a week.)