After a day of lackluster food (not to mention yesterday’s total and utter failure) I needed a foolproof dinner for this, the first Friday of August. The obvious choice: pizza! We picked up ingredients on the way back from the gym yesterday, so all I had to do was make the dough and assemble our pie tonight.
I used this recipe for the dough; it’s an old standby and pretty reliable, producing a nice, soft puffy dough. I always add herbs as recommended. For the sauce, Steven and I love Don Pepino, which comes in a can and is available at our local Wegmans. We first bought it because that old-school design was just irresistible, and it turns out that it’s super tasty, too! Although I often make cashew cheese for my pizza, I decided to try Violife’s mozzarella shreds this time. I’m a bit of a Violife fangirl these days; the products are great, and I appreciate that everything is nut-free. Their parmesan wedge is easily one of the best vegan cheeses I’ve ever tried, so I was eager to give the mozz a whirl. We topped our pie with halved cherry tomatoes from the garden and some pickled banana pepper rings. Not terribly exciting, but sometimes you just want a simple cheesy pizza.
And that’s exactly what we got. As usual, I baked it on a pizza stone covered in cornmeal to prevent sticking… truthfully, I’m not sure how much crispier this makes the crust, but I’d like to think there’s a difference! We also cracked open a tasty Beaujolais — a friend once said that pizza and wine should be the go-to pairing, not pizza and beer, and that makes sense to me.
And about that Violife mozz — I tried a few cold shreds and was shocked that they were edible, unlike Daiya. Melted, the Violife was quite mild, although I guess I’d prefer that to aggressively unpleasant, as other cheeses can be!
Not a bad Friday night at all.
Day 19: Lunch on the go.
Today’s prompt couldn’t be more appropriate! I’m in Rhode Island this weekend, here to celebrate my dad’s 60th birthday and my nephew Charlie’s 1st birthday. Two days of big gatherings, bookended by days of chilling out with my immediate family. There will be lots of party foods and snacks, but I guarantee we’ll make time for one of the best on-the-go lunches: pizza strips!
Image from RIMonthly.com
Pizza strips (also called party pizza or bakery pizza) are a Rhode Island specialty. They’re incredibly simple — a focaccia-like dough topped with a thick tomato sauce — but they’re definitely more than the sum of their parts. They’re baked on sheets and cut into strips, which you can then slice into squares for smaller portions. I think they’re very similar to an Italian tomato pie, which makes sense — RI has a big Italian-American population, and you can find pizza strips at nearly any Italian bakery. My family has always served them at parties; they’re relatively inexpensive and are a great supplement to the typical chips and veggie trays served at these kinds of gatherings. And — bonus! — they’re typically vegan, although some bakeries add parmesan cheese. I’ve always preferred the corner pieces, since I love thick, crusty bread. When I was a kid, I didn’t like the tomato sauce topping — it was too thick for me, so I’d wipe some of it off. These days, I’m far less particular, and I’m always happy to grab a piece with a healthy amount of sauce!
My mom used to buy pizza strips at a bakery called the Italian Breadbox, which was just down the street from my family’s house. Sadly, they closed down years ago, so she now patronizes DePetrillo’s Bakery. She’s confirmed with the chefs that the recipe is indeed 100% vegan, so that’s my bakery of choice when Steven and I need to pick up a tray for the ride back to Maryland. Since they have no melty cheese and never have any toppings, they’re super easy to eat on the go!
Mmm… I can’t wait until my dad’s party starts later today. There will, in fact, be pizza strips. ;)
By the time I left work yesterday, I knew three things for certain: I was tired and a bit headachy, I didn’t feel like cooking, and I wanted a very particular take-out pizza for dinner. As S and I drove home, I broached the topic:
Me: So, are you hungry now?
S: Um… not really. You?
Me: No. But when I am, I won’t feel like cooking… and I bet you won’t either…
S: You know what our option is.
Me: What? What is our option?
S: Vegan Thai Pie.
Me: Yesss, I was hoping you’d say that! I’ve been dreaming of it for the past two hours!
S: Really?! I thought you’d reject it outright!
Normally, S would’ve been right – I’m nearly always the one who balks at eating out. But I’d already dropped a fair chunk of change yesterday day to pay off one of my [admittedly smaller] student loans, and spending a couple more dollars on dinner seemed like a good way to celebrate.
S called in our order to Glass Nickel Pizza Co. and agreed, darling that he is, to pick up the pizza while I got a workout in. What a champ. So while he drove out to get our dinner, I spent some QT at our complex’s fitness center (read: room with some rickety old exercise machines from the eighties, a rack of free weights, and a single all-purpose weight machine).. Not long after I returned, S and our pizza arrived.
To my knowledge, Glass Nickel was the first local pizzeria to offer Daiya – I blogged about it earlier this year. Since then, they’ve also introduced the vegan version of their popular Thai pie. The Vegan Thai Pie features cilantro, Daiya, tofu, broccoli, carrots, red pepper, and yellow onion. It’s topped with chopped peanuts and features a spicy peanut sauce in lieu of a tomato-based sauce.
It’s amazing. It’s a perfect pizzafication of pad thai. I love it.
Seriously, it’s one of the best pizza-joint pizzas I’ve ever eaten. I love that Glass Nickel offers such a creative vegan option! Honestly, though, the Daiya is a bit extraneous – the rest of the pie’s flavors are more than robust enough to keep it interesting, and Daiya just gets in the way. My only other nit-picky issue is with the tofu – it’s pretty plain; if Glass Nickel marinated it and chopped it into smaller cubes, the pizza would be out-of-this-world delicious. But those are minor quibbles – I might submit my suggestions to Glass Nickel, but if I do, I’ll be sure to thank them more than profusely for even offering the Thai Pie. Gotta encourage the vegan friendliness!
What’s the most creative pizza combo you’ve eaten? Do any of your local pizza places offer creative vegan options like this one?
In a world that existed solely for my blog-writing needs, I’d be able to begin this post with “It was the best of pizzas, it was the worst of pizzas.” I can’t do that, however, because both of the pizzas I’ve eaten in the past couple months have been far from “the worst.” If the trade-off for an expected-yet-amusing opening line is good pizza, I’m okay with that.
If I’m adhering to reality, the closest I can come to that opener is nowhere near as parallel or as catchy: “It was the most eclectic of pizzas, it was the easiest of pizzas.” It’s no Dickens, but it’ll do.
It was the most eclectic of pizzas…
…because it was basically a mish-mash of topping ideas I found on the internet. S and I made this pizza some time in January. His side has mozzarella Daiya, mushrooms, onions, and Tofurky deli slices cut into strips. My side features broccoli, thinly sliced Yukon gold potatoes, soy curls, onions, mushrooms, barbecue sauce, and a bit of Daiya. Clearly my side had no uniformity of theme! But you know what? It was awesome! The Daiya was totally unnecessary, but other than that, the random assortment was delightfully surprising. I can’t believe I haven’t put barbecue sauce on pizza before this one! It was so tasty! And potato slices are an equally delicious addition. Mine were the tiniest bit undercooked, but they added a unique textural element I haven’t experienced on pizza before. A revelation!
It was the easiest of pizzas…
…because it was a mother-flippin’ TAKE-OUT PIZZA. As far as I know, Glass Nickel Pizza Co. is the first Madison pizza parlor to offer Daiya on a delivery/take-out pizza. Glass Nickel has a location just minutes away from me, so one lazy weekend night, S and I decided to build our own pizza and pick it up there. I really appreciate that Glass Nickel’s online menu clearly calls out which sauces and toppings are vegan – no more wondering whether the marinara sauce has parmesan in it! Their pizzas aren’t exactly cheap, and Daiya does cost a bit extra, but S pointed out that, for ~$20, it’s cheaper than going out to dinner, AND we had leftovers. Sold. This pizza featured Daiya, tomatoes, green peppers, and mushrooms. Yum! It was a bit heavy on the Daiya, but for a rare weekend treat, it was fine by me.
Apologies to the ghost of Charles Dickens for co-opting his powerful and lasting opening line and using it to talk about pizza. Oops?
What was your most recent pizza experience? Your most eclectic toppings?
Well, hello! Thought you’d never hear from me again, eh? I promise I won’t be silent much longer. I’ve got some half-finished posts in the works, but to tide you over until then, how about a picture of some delectable pizza?
Last night S and I independently started thinkin’ that we felt like making pizza for dinner. Once we discovered our mutual hankering, we wasted no time in whipping up a masterpiece of a pie. Because we weren’t keen on waiting for the dough to rise, I used this super quick and super easy dough recipe, which doesn’t require any rising or kneading time. I was skeptical, but the 1000+ positive reviews convinced me to give it a shot. It worked out perfectly, much to my hungry belly’s happiness and my make-everything-harder-than-it-needs-to-be perfectionist self’s surprise.
In the interest of time and laziness, we topped our pizza with canned Muir Glen pizza sauce instead of making sauce from scratch. We covered one half of the pizza with mozzarella Daiya, basil, and roasted red peppers. The other half was a little more sophisticated; we topped it with caramelized onions and shallots, artichoke hearts, and more roasted red peppers. I can’t decide which half I liked better! And I have to admit that Daiya is growing on me. I still think it’s a little icky smelling, and it’s certainly no health food, but the occasional Daiya pizza definitely hits the spot every once in a while.
Aaand that’s all I have for you today! What’s your favorite pizza topping?
Hogwarts, Austin, Duluth – what do these three places have in common? They’re all places I’ve been this summer, obviously! While the two-day Duluth trip was the least glamorous – I was on a trip for work – it also was home to the best new restaurant I’ve tried in ages.
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Duluth, vegan food is not exactly what comes to mind. Flannel and strange vowel sounds, sure, but dairy-free delights? Not so much. And yet – just three blocks down the street from my hotel, nestled into a cozy corner, was the wonderful Pizza Lucé.
When I arrived in Duluth on Saturday evening, I was fairly hungry. I’d read about Pizza Lucé in the prep packet I got before leaving for my trip, so I asked the hotel desk clerk about it. He said that, due to the Tall Ships being in the harbor, Duluth was super touristy at the moment and that the restaurant would probably be crowded. But then he handed me a menu and clued me into the wonders of free delivery right to my hotel room. Umm… yes, please? Normally I love walking around new cities, but it was late, I was tired, and I had to get up at 5:00 the next morning.
Deciding on a dinner dish was painful – the menu clearly lists out all its vegan options, and they were plentiful! But finally I decided to honor the restaurant’s name and go with a pizza. I stepped out of my comfort zone and ordered the Lil Gracie: A vegetarian version of one of our most popular pizzas! Veggie sausage, phony pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and mozzarella on red sauce. I ordered it with their house cheeze, Rinotta, a nutty blend of crumbly deliciousness. It did not disappoint. No, not at all.
Going out of my comfort zone? Best. idea. ever. This was seriously the best thing I’ve eaten in weeks and weeks. I’ve never been a fan of sausage, meatless or otherwise, but these sage-y, spicy, bites might’ve made me a convert. Heck, the entire pizza might’ve converted me to a meaty-pizza fan. Even the green olives – which I’ve traditionally shunned – worked in this flavor combination. Gah, I’m salivating just thinking about it.
Anyway – I also got dessert: Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars – Granola and crisp rice peanut butter bars topped with chocolate. Dairy free. I’m not even gonna bother describing these – peanut butter and chocolate really doesn’t need an explanation. Yum. Here’s my entire dinner, complete with the awesome Pizza Lucé delivery bag.
In conclusion, if you ever have the chance to eat at Pizza Lucé, do not stop, do not pass Go, but just hightail it down there or pick up your phone and order the heck out of this place. You can thank me later.