Pizza and cheese, they just go together. When we crave pizza, it is often because of that layer of gooey cheese on top that can be so satisfying. But you don’t need to give up the gooey fatty salty pizza experience if you’re vegan.
For a quick homemade pizza on a weekday evening, you can grab a ready made dough and some vegan cheese in the store, and some of them are specifically for melting on top of things, but the best melted cheese I’ve had on pizza is the one I made from scratch: It is fast an easy to create the mozzarella experience, and it is also a cheaper alternative to the store bought ones. To see how, scroll down to the bottom of the page!
Eating out or ordering in: Pizza without cheese???
Open your mind, and give it a go. Pizza is one of the most convenient food in our culture, that you can get anywhere, any time. The good thing about a pizzeria is that they make everything fresh, so leaving out or adding ingredients is the most natural thing, no need to explain yourself or argue, so it is a real simple solution for vegans to order a vegetarian pizza without cheese. If you’ve never tried it, you’ll be surprised how good it can be. Some places started to have vegan cheese as an option so asking for it is always a good idea. If they have it, great!; if they don’t, they might take a note that there is a demand for it.
A small tip for the locals: There is a pizza slice place in the centre of Copenhagen (Bar Slice on Larsbjørnsstræde 26) that sells their “bamse pizza” slice for only 17 DKK: A big slice of pizza with a pretty good tomato sauce, generously filled with potatoes and olives. Not saying it’s the most healthy lunch, but it’s an incredible price for its value in the city centre when things tend to be really commercial and overpriced.
Vegan Cheese with no addiction
I’ve heard countless times “I can’t give up cheese, so I can never go vegan.” Apparently cheese is heavily addictive, or more precisely one of the milk proteins called casein that cheese is very rich in. Casein or no casein, it is salty, fatty, sometimes creamy and often stinky, what not to like? There are more or more ways to satisfy our cheese cravings in the transitional period of going vegan.
I differentiate between 4 main types of vegan cheeses:
- “vegan parmesan”, which is a great cheese sprinkle with nutritional yeast and ground nuts (most commonly untested cashews) and dried spices
- hard cheeses that can be sliced in your sandwich, put on a platter or grated on top of your dish. These I buy in the store sometimes and haven’t tried to make myself, but there are more and more successful vegan cheese recipes out there using nuts, sometimes beans and milk acid bacteria cultures.
- hot and creamy cheese sauces and melted cheese. Making creamy-cheesy sauces is easy and fast, so cheesy-creamy pastas are a regular go to solutions for many vegans when it comes to a quick and effortless weekday dinner. See Maggi’s mushroom-spinach lasagne recipe!
- cold cream cheeses. These type of cheeses resemble mascarpones, ricottas, cottage cheese that are great for cheese cakes and cream cheese spreads. They typically use cashew nuts and non-dairy milks and yoghurts for a fresh and tangy cheese experience. See my vegan yoghurt recipe to read more about milk acid bacteria pills or visit my cashew-coconut cream cheese topping post.
Wait, you don’t know what nutritional yeast is? I didn’t either until I became vegan, but since my very first experiments with it, I’m a fan. It’s dried yeast flakes that are inactive (not like the one that you buy in small packs to bake bread with) and are excellent nutrient source for your body.
Some of them are really close to a cured nutty parmesan, while others are more resemblant of a pair of smelly feet after a long rainy hike in the autumn forests. Surprisingly, the cheaper brands are often better, but choose an organic product if you can. You will typically use 1 tsp-2 tbsp per dish, so worth to invest in the good stuff. When mixed with something fluid and heated, it becomes sticky and gooey, that makes it not just perfect for cheese sauces and this melted cheese experience that I’m trying to get to in this post, but works really well in stews and soups as a light and somehow buttery thickening agent.
Nutritional yeast should get its own post one day, but don’t wait for that to buy a pack and taste it.
So! Are you ready for some vegan melty gooey mozzarella?
Making pizza at home is easier than you think. This time I wanted to make a quick weekday dinner, so bought a ready made dough in the store (and I have no shame! :D), but if you have the time, or preparing for a special occasion, I encourage you to make your own!
- 150 ml or a handful of soaked cashews
- 250 ml unsweetened soymilk or oat milk *
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 tbsp green olives brine
- 1 tbsp tapioca four (it works all right with the same amount of corn starch too)
- 1tsp salt
- 2 slices of sautéed onions or 1/2 tsp onion powder * *
- 1/2 clove of garlic or 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp white pepper (optional)
- 100 ml vegan yoghurt (optional)
****I find that rice milk is too sweet for this
**If you don’t have onion and garlic powder or prefer fresh onions, make sure to soften them to take away their harshness that wouldn’t work in this recipe
***The milk acid culture that’s in the yoghurt can give an extra cheese flavour to our cheese, I’d like to experiment with adding a milk acid capsule with 1/2 tbsp sugar to the mix and rest it for a few days to see if it brings it together on a new level, but this recipe works perfectly for a quick weekday dinner without it.
Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan, blend them all with a stick blender (or blend in blender and transfer the mix in the pot, but it’s less to wash if you just use the stickblender) and simmer on a low heat while stirring it fist quite often, then after the thickening process starts, stir constantly to avoid lumps and sticking to the bottom of the pan. Continue until it gets thick gooey.
Make your pizza base with your favourite toppings and scoop some blobs of the mix on, just like melted mozzarella would look like. It will further solidify in the oven. Bake your pizza on about 200 C and enjoy the melted cheese you’ve made in just 15 minutes!