I thought that a vegetarian pizza would be a hard sell in our family where pizza is synonymous with pepperoni. But no!
Everyone dug in with relish, yumming at the delicious flavors—salty Kalamata olives, juicy artichokes, oozy mozzarella, sharp red onions, and sweet yellow bell peppers scattered over a thin blanket of tomato sauce.
This recipe is a blueprint for a classic vegetarian pizza, like the one you get from your local casual pizza joint. This colorful and utterly irresistible pizza should get you started on your own path to vegetable heaven.
Make it for a meatless Monday dinner or whip it up for movie night on Friday. Pizza has to be one of the most delicious ways to eat your vegetables!
All About Pizza Dough
Deliciously good and easy-to-make homemade dough is the way to go, but store-bought dough works too. Buy two 1-pound balls of pizza dough or make any one of the following homemade pizza dough recipes:
Let homemade dough rise overnight or up to 18 hours at room temperature. It will develop a lot of flavor and produce the prized large air bubbles in the dough. If you refrigerate the dough for longer storage, be sure to take it out of the fridge about an hour ahead of time to bring it to room temperature.
Tips for Making Vegetarian (or Any!) Pizza
For the best pizza ever, read the tips below. You’ll be on your way to becoming a pizza master!
Toppings: Don’t overload the pizza with toppings! Less is more when making pizza so the crust gets crisp without becoming soggy. The crust will be weighed down if you add too many topping or too much sauce.
Oven temperature: Bake the pizza in a very hot oven. I borrowed Jim Lahey’s method of getting my oven as hot as possible first and then turning on the broiler to bake the pizza.
Fun fact! Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan St. Bakery and author of multiple cookbooks on bread, is one of the first proponents of the no-knead bread method, and the no-knead pizza dough I recommend for this recipe is adapted from his method.
Oven rack: Set the oven rack eight to nine inches below the broiler element. That is enough distance to prevent the top of the dough from burning. Be sure to peek often since oven heat distribution varies. Yours will be different than mine.
Baking time: The cook times are different for a pizza stone and a sheet pan. The pizza will take longer to cook on a sheet pan than on a hot pizza stone.
Assemble the pizza: Top and bake one pizza at a time. While the first pizza bakes, start working on the second pizza.
Variations: Make It Yours
Now that you have a base, what’s next? Honestly, the sky’s the limit. If you can imagine it, you can make it. I’m not saying you can throw just anything on top (hold the sweet potatoes and marshmallows), but follow the maxim of what grows together, goes together, and pair those vegetables with some fresh herbs.
In summer you might want to use thin ribbons of zucchini or fresh tomatoes with basil. Roasted squash and root vegetables in the fall with sage or rosemary sounds delicious. Top it with asparagus in the spring with parsley or tarragon.
SO MANY Vegetarian Toppings
Here is a list of ideas for vegetarian pizza toppings. Most vegetables can be topped raw, but some need to be cooked first to bring out their sweetness and to keep them from drying out. It’s not an exhaustive list, but plenty to get your imagination going.
- Asparagus: Cut thin ribbons or thin rounds of raw asparagus and toss in olive oil
- Eggplant: Thinly slice into rounds and bake or fry with olive oil.
- Raw dark leafy greens like kale, arugula, and spinach, dressed with oil and vinegar. Top the cooked pizza or add them on top of the pizza halfway through baking.
- Mushrooms: They can be sliced and raw or sautéed in olive oil.
- Potatoes: Boil them until tender and slice them thinly. Brush them with olive oil.
- Butternut, honeynut, or delicata squash: Thinly slice and roast them in the oven first.
- Cherry tomatoes: Simply halve them.
- Sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil: Slice them into small pieces.
- Zucchini: Cut thin ribbons or thin rounds and salt both sides for about 20 minutes. Drain and pat off the moisture with a paper towel.
- Goat cheese
Spicy and Punchy Elements
- Olives (any kind), pepperoncini peppers, capers, pickled or raw jalapenos, red pepper flakes
- Soft herbs: Use to garnish the cooked pizza, such as basil, tarragon, Italian parsley, and cilantro.
- Sturdy herbs: Either sprinkle on before or after baking pizza, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and fresh or dried oregano.
How to Reheat Leftover Pizza
My favorite way to reheat pizza is in a 400ºF oven. Bake it for five to 10 minutes, or until hot. You could microwave it, but I think the crust becomes too soggy. Here are some helpful tips for reheating pizza.
More Vegetarian Delights
The homemade pizza dough recommended in this recipe can be made up to 48 hours in advance. If you’re making it the day of, you’ll need to budget about two hours of time to make it and let it rise.
2 (1-pound) store-bought or homemade pizza dough
All-purpose flour, for dusting the countertop
Cornmeal, to dust the peel or baking sheet
3/4 cup store-bought or homemade pizza sauce
1 cup (4 ounces) grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved if large
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and quartered
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Olive oil, for garnish
Basil leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450ºF:
Set a rack about eight inches below the broiler element. If using a pizza stone, set it on the rack. Preheat the oven to 450ºF for 30 minutes to get the oven very hot.
Divide and shape the dough into balls:
Generously sprinkle your kitchen counter with flour. Turn the dough onto it. If you made a 2-pound pizza dough recipe, cut the dough in half. You want 2 pieces of dough that are each about 1 pound. Each piece will make a pizza.
Working with one piece (1 pound) of dough at a time, fold all four corners of the dough in towards the center. Turn the dough over and cup your hands around the dough. Rotate it once or twice to form a smooth ball. If the dough is very sticky, flour your hands and sprinkle the dough with a little more flour. Shaping the dough into balls this way makes it easier roll them into rounds.
Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cover 1 piece of dough with a dishtowel. You will top and bake 1 pizza and as it cooks, you will shape and top the second pizza.
Shape the dough:
Generously sprinkle your kitchen counter and the dough with flour. With your fingertips, press the dough ball down to form an 8-inch round. Continue to press and stretch the dough until it is 12 inches in diameter.
If the dough springs back and is difficult to stretch, cover it with a dishtowel and let it rest and relax for about 10 minutes before continuing to stretch it.
Transfer the dough to a pizza peel or baking sheet:
Generously sprinkle a pizza peel or a rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. You will build the pizza on the peel or the baking sheet, then, if transferring the pizza to a pizza stone, you will slide it off the peel onto the stone. The cornmeal prevents sticking on either surface.
Use your hands to transfer the stretched dough onto the peel or baking sheet. If needed, stretch the dough out to make it round again.
Change the oven from baking to broiling:
Ten minutes before baking the pizza (while you assemble the topping) switch the oven from bake to broil. Preheat the broiler. This helps the oven get really, really hot. The pizza will be baked under the broiler.
Add the toppings:
Spoon half of the sauce (a little more than 1/4 cup) onto the crust and spread it in an even layer using the back of the spoon. Sprinkle half of the mozzarella (about 1/2 cup) over the sauce.
Arrange half the peppers, onions, olives, and artichokes over the dough.
Bake the pizza:
If using a pizza stone: Use a quick, jerking motion to slide the pizza off the peel onto the stone. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and the dough is browned. The cook time depends on the heat of your oven, so peek occasionally. Use the peel to remove the pizza from the oven and slide it onto a cutting board.
If using a baking sheet: Place the pizza into the oven and bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the cheese bubbles and the dough is golden. The cook time depends on the heat of your oven, so peek occasionally. Pizza on a baking sheet will take longer to bake than it would on a pizza stone. Remove the pan from the oven and slide it onto a cutting board.
While the first pizza bakes, assemble the second pizza with the remaining dough and toppings. After the first pizza comes out of the oven, preheat the pizza stone and oven for the second pizza, and bake following the same methods.
Slice and serve:
Sprinkle each pizza with Parmesan, top with the basil leaves, and drizzle with olive oil. Slice and serve it warm.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 4 to 6|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||23%|
|Total Carbohydrate 87g||32%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||29%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 66mg||329%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|