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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cheese-less Pizza... it's actually good!

Greatly influenced by the eye-opening film Food Inc., I've been spending a lot of time recently analyzing what it is I'm eating exactly. Where did this come from? What is it doing for my body? I've been experimenting with foods that I wouldn't typically go for (see archived post: You Know I Like My Chicken Fried) and have been happily surprised.

Lately I've been inspired by the Oh She Glows blogger Angela Liddon and her enthusiasm for vegan cooking and baking. She is one creative woman! Tonight I'm making her Butternut Squash Mac n Cheeze and am SO excited to see how it turns out; I'll make sure to write about it later. I'm not on a vegan diet, but am dabbling in it a bit since I've learned more about it and realized it is both a healthy and humane way to eat. And many vegan dishes are delicious! I was particularly intrigued by notorious-vegan Alicia Silverstone's quote, "Since I've gone vegetarian, my body has never felt better and my taste buds have been opened up to a whole new world." Like, I want my taste buds to experience a whole new world too! I'm obsessed with food and eating, so doesn't it make sense to give it a chance??

Well... I love cheese. A Lot. Grilled cheese and tomato soup, stinky hunks of French cheese with a glass of red wine, thick swipes of chive cream cheese on my bagel, cheese-stuffed fried jalapeno poppers, overflowing quesadillas and greasy cheesy pizza! But I read an interesting post at Oh She Glows having to do with Angela's preference for cheese-less pizza. She's even asked a pizza chef to leave the cheese off of her pizza when ordering at a restaurant (it didn't go over well, if I remember correctly, he refused). Anyway, her insistence on cheese-less pizza convinced me to try it.

So I made my own.

The most important thing about a cheese-less pizza is that the other components of the pizza have to be perfection because they are left completely exposed without flavorful, melty cheese. And thus my new passion for roasting my vegetable toppings with olive oil and sea salt before putting them on the pie. It makes a world of difference because they develop this wonderful caramelization that goes ohhhhhh goddddd in your mouth. This is an excellent "how to roast vegetables" article that I stumbled across online, and I followed his guidelines when I roasted the vegetables for my first cheese-less pizza. One thing to be careful of: if you first roast your veggies in a casserole dish and then put them on the pizza to be roasted some more - be careful you don't overdo it when they go in the oven the first time. At the first sight of a darkened edge, take them out and let them finish up on the pizza.

So far I've roasted purple onion, red bell pepper and garlic for my pizza, but I really want to try tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, red potatoes and pineapple!

I'm not going to explain step by step how I made the entire pizza because most people know how to make some kind of pizza, whether it be pita pizzas or a passed-down-from-your-grandmother recipe. However, I will say that in this instance, I believe less is more when it comes to the pizza sauce.

So, try a cheese-less pizza with roasted vegetables. It's healthier, cheaper and will allow you to really savor some amazing flavors. And don't even think about dipping it in ranch dressing!

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