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Now, I have titled this post “Vegetarian Pizza,” but most of the work of the dish is the pizza crust. I thought about just posting pizza crust, but it seemed silly to give you the recipe for that and then deny you a quick and easy sauce recipe too. After all, the cheese and toppings are no trouble to come by at all, so if I just give you both recipes than you’ll pretty much be ready to go! (Also, this allows me to post pictures of a finished pizza without feeling strange about it, and pictures of the finished deal are much tastier-looking than pictures of rolled out dough!)

Pizza crust isn’t actually that hard to make, it just requires having some time to let the dough sit and rise. Of course, lack of time is why many people use prefab crusts or <shudder> entire prefab frozen pizzas. This is assuming, of course, that one is not simply ordering pizza from the local delivery place because you looked up at the clock and realized that, dang, it’s 5:45 and the kids are going to be cranky as all get-out if you don’t produce dinner QUICK! I’m afraid that this recipe can’t replace the convenience of a pizza that you don’t have to cook at all, or that takes 20 min. at 425° F with no real preparation required, but when you do have a bit of time (and most of the time that is required is just “sit time,” so you can go off and clean or play a game or what have you), this recipe will produce a much tastier, healthier, and significantly less greasy product than any not-homemade pizza that I have ever eaten.

I suppose that I should confess that I actually don’t much like not-homemade pizzas … as if you couldn’t tell from my blatant bias in the prior paragraph :-). I do see their value as speed-food, though <shrug>. I just tend to avoid them if at all possible (after all, one can produce homemade cheesy noodles or the like in about the same time it takes to bake a frozen pizza!). One way or another, this recipe is a big favorite at my house, and I hope you enjoy it!

Oh, you may be wondering … yes, this is the pizza crust recipe that Jennifer mentions getting from me when she first needed to experiment with making GF pizza crusts. I guess this’ll let you see just how much a gluteny recipe changes when you need to take out the flour!

Note: You do not have to use sugar to activate the yeast if you happen to need to avoid it even in tiny quantities. I recommend replacing it with honey. You cannot use any fake sugar (i.e. Splenda or Sweet ‘n Low, etc.) to activate yeast, to the best of my knowledge. If you use honey, know that your yeast will almost certainly activate a little more slowly, as the yeast will have to break down the more complex sugar more before they can eat it and get to the happy eating stage (that is, the foamy stage where you know they are active :D). I would not recommend using molasses, as the very strong flavor might come through in the dough a little (but if that’s what you’ve got, it’ll probably be okay). I don’t know that yeast will treat stevia as a sugar at all, I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you have success activating the yeast with any stevia product!

Vegetarian Pizza

The Crust (yeilds 2 largish average thickness crusts–the photos of the three pizzas I have posted comes from one batch):


  • 2 packages yeast (about 4 tsp. if you buy in bulk, like me)
  • 2 tsp white sugar (or honey)
  • 4 cups unbleached white flour, plus more for rolling out etc.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (between 100 and 115° F–you should be able to stick your finger in and have it feel nice and warm)
  • Cornmeal for dusting the baking surfaces


1. Put the yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Add the water and mix well. If you are using honey to activate, add it after the water so you don’t get globby yeast-and-honey mixture that doesn’t mix well. Let sit 5-10 minutes for the yeast mixture to “proof” (get foamy/bubbly).

2. Put the flour, salt, olive oil, and the active yeast mixture into a large mixing bowl (this can be the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, if you’d like). Mix all of this together with a fork (or by turning on the mixer) to get all the liquid absorbed. You should have a loose dough.

3. Put some flour onto a good kneading surface (be that a clean counter, a large cutting board, or something similar). Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead the dough until it is smooth and combined (it’s okay if it isn’t sticking together particularly well when you first turn it out–the kneading should make it all cohere nicely and give you a nice smooth ball of dough). If it is sticking, feel free to sprinkle a little more flour onto your work surface, but it shouldn’t need too much more.

4. Place the dough into a large mixing bowl (I usually just give the one I mixed the dough in the first time a good wiping out, to remove loose flour and dough bits). Drizzle it lightly with olive oil. Cover the bowl with a light towel and put in a draft free area (I set mine on top of my stove, but there may be a better place in your house). Let the dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled (give or take :D).

5. At the end of the hour or so, punch the dough down and let it sit again for another 45 minutes or so, until it has almost doubled again. Your dough is now ready to make pizza with!

6. Preheat the oven to 425° F. Cut the dough into portions appropriate to the number and size of pizzas you want to make. For the three in my pictures we divided the dough roughly into thirds, even though the pizzas are of very different sizes. This was so that we could have one thick-crust pizza (the one on the cutting board), one more normal-crust (in the bar pan), and a thin crust (the one on the cookie sheet sized baking stone). If you have large pizza trays or stones, you can get two large pizzas out of this.

7. Get out whatever baking surface you’re using, or a pizza peel if you intend to assemble the pizza and then put it onto a stone that has already heated in the oven (this technique will give you by far the most evenly and nicely browned pizza crust). Dust the trays (if you aren’t preheating the stones) or the pizza peel with cornmeal. Using hands and rolling pin, roll the dough out to the thickness and shape you want directly on the trays or peel (no need to add flour for sticking, the cornmeal should do that job very well, better than flour). You can roll the crusts out on the counter and transfer them to the trays or peel, in which case you should put the cornmeal on the tray, not the counter. However, I find that the crusts are more likely to overstretch or tear if I move them an extra time.

8. Decorate the pizzas as you see fit (see sauce and topping suggestions below), and put in the oven. Bake for anywhere from 10-25 minutes depending on the thickness of crust and cheese, the heat of your baking surface (if you preheated stones), and your particular oven. Let them sit a minute or two after getting them out of the oven as this will make them much easier to cut. Enjoy!

Garlic-Tomato Pizza Sauce


  • 1 28-32 oz can petite diced tomatoes, lightly drained (you could use normal dice, but I find petite works better)
  • 8-12 cloves of garlic, crushed or very finely minced
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


Timing Note: I generally make this sauce during the last rising of the dough (the 45 min. one). It doesn’t hurt it to sit if you get done before the dough does, after all!

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium-large frying pan. Sauté the garlic for a minute or two (or less if your oil got a bit too hot!) to take the raw edge off the taste.

2. Add the tomatoes and bring to a light simmer. Add some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring pretty often, for 10 minutes or so, until the tomatoes have softened and maybe even begun to break down a bit. Adjust the salt and pepper if you want.

3. Take pan off of heat and let cool for a few minutes. Then put the sauce in a blender or food processor and process until pretty smooth. It’ll have some texture, but it should be a relatively smooth sauce, though you can leave a little chunkiness if you like that.

4. The sauce is now ready to use. I find that one batch of pizza crusts as listed above uses about half a batch of blended sauce. The sauce freezes really well, though, so I just freeze the second half and then I don’t need to make sauce the next time, which can be a nice energy-saver.

Cheese and Topping Suggestions

For reference, 1 (far left top) is the average-thickness crust, 2 (far right top) is the very thin crust, and 3 (bottom rack) is the thick crust (which got assembled on a pizza peel and moved onto the preheated stone, which is why it is round even though it’s on a rectangular stone :D).

The pizzas pictured above, from left to right, have the following toppings:

1. Garlic sauce, cheese mix, fresh tomatoes, dried basil (I use fresh if I’ve got it and it’s in season, but it’s winter, so I don’t :D)

2. Garlic sauce, cheese mix, fresh tomatoes, slivers of yellow onion, yellow bell pepper, and dried basil

3. Garlic sauce, cheese mix, fresh tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, fresh chives

The cheese mix that I use is mostly grated mozzarella (I buy it pregrated in bulk from Costco, and no, it isn’t always all the way thawed before I put it on! Of course, all the way thawed is optimal, but you can fudge it), a generous handful of shredded (fresh, NOT the canned powdered stuff!) parmesan, and a slightly less generous handful of grated medium cheddar cheese. Using just strait mozzarella yields a heavier and gloppier pizza, which the parmesan helps to lighten, and the cheddar and parmesan together give the cheese a more dynamic flavor. Don’t worry, it won’t taste odd with cheddar in it! Lots of the prefab pizzas actually have some hiding in there, even :-). I don’t have proportions for you, unfortunately, as I always eyeball this, but I’d guess that for those three pizzas I probably used 4ish cups mozzarella, a cup to a cup and a half of parmesan (max, probably a little less) and about 3/4 cup or a little less of grated cheddar. Mind, I’m terrible at estimation, but this should give you an idea of what works for me!

As to toppings, well, obviously we like tomatoes on our pizza. A lot :D. They are very tasty. However, if you do not, there are many other tasty veggies. You could do a mix of bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green, whatever you like), onions, black olives (if you like those), fresh herbs of many varieties (I love basil and chives, oregano would be good, especially with basil, thyme or rosemary in moderation), dried herbs if the fresh aren’t easily accessible (though it isn’t quite as good) mushrooms (there are many kinds, though I prefer ones with more flavor than white button), and so on. In the land of more interesting combinations you can do an Italian-style pizza of an olive oil brushed crust with very thinly sliced potato and rosemary on top (plus a little more olive oil), or chunky tomatoes/tomato sauce and garlic or basil, or a basic white sauce with spinach, cheese, herbs of choice, and tomatoes. Or you can come up with your own! Also, if you need to feed a crowd that includes non-vegetarians, you can of course do meatier pizzas. Just remember, even though people say they love meat on their pizza, when you produce a truly wonderful vegetarian pizza, the carnivores will eat that too, and you’ll run through it really fast. To ensure you have enough veggie for all the vegetarians AND your meat eaters you’ll need to either make more veggie pizzas than you’ll think you need (don’t worry, they do make good leftovers) or send all the vegetarians through before you let the meat-eaters through (though this doesn’t work well on adults, and can seem rather pushy and impolite–fair warning! :-P).

I haven’t yet tried freezing one of these pizzas, but I bet you could freeze a fully-assembled pizza and then have it to bake in much less time. However, even so, I would recommend thawing the pizza all the way before baking (unlike store pizza). Sometimes frozen homemade doughs (which have not been parbaked) won’t cook properly if they’re still too cold. Once I experiment with all this I’ll let you know what works best!