Pizza is definitely a comfort food and routinely tops favourite food lists. With myriad topping and combination possibilities, what constitutes the best pizza is a highly subjective topic. For vegetarians who consume dairy and egg products (lacto-ovo vegetarians), pizza is an easy win in the dining/takeout/delivery department. But even for vegans, the array of options has grown substantially in recent years. Moreover, for people with a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, gluten-free options are also now commonly available.
Finding the perfect pizza means trying different combinations of crust, sauce and toppings to discover what works the best for your taste and palate. Let’s look at the most common ingredients that you can consider when looking for your favourites.
First, where else would we begin but consider an integral component of your pizza, namely the crust. The classic dough is classic for a reason – this white-flour recipe dusted with cornmeal is the original form of pizza crust and is consequently a must for purists. If, however, you’re more health conscious and love the taste of whole wheat, whole grain dough is widely available and is a scrumptious, albeit less traditional option. For those who are sensitive to gluten or suffer from celiac disease, giving up pizza is no longer necessary. Gluten free dough is increasingly available and provides a tasty base without the gluten-related issues that eating regular pizza dough brings.
Next, choosing a sauce is an equally important step in designing your perfect pizza. Gone are the days when the only sauce you could get on your pie was Italian tomato sauce. Nowadays you also have selections such as barbeque, chipotle BBQ, bruschetta, creamy garlic, alfredo, pesto, pesto mayo, hot sauce and sweet chilli. For vegans, one sauce of note is hummus, which does double duty as a sauce and protein source. And don’t feel that you must stick with just one sauce either – like toppings, you can go with multiple sauces on a single pizza. By the same token, depending on your topping choice, you may choose to forego sauce altogether. The key with your selection is to choose a sauce that will play up the other flavours in your pizza.
Vegetable toppings are popular, but they are not essential. After all, the basic components of a pizza are crust, sauce and cheese. However, if a simple classic pizza isn’t enough or if you’re vegan and will forego the cheese, then vegetable toppings add a layer of flavour to your pie. Classic vegetable toppings include fresh tomatoes (baby or Roma), onion (red or sweet), olives (kalamata or green), green peppers and mushrooms. Of late, more gourmet vegetable toppings have become common, such as broccoli, spinach, kale, roasted garlic, caramelised onions, leek, asparagus, roasted red pepper, grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, artichoke, marinated capsicum, jalapeno peppers and sun dried tomato. The one fruit topping that is widely available elicits a love it or hate it response – pineapple. We’ll leave it up to you whether the fruit deserves real estate on your pizza.
Depending on your location, you may find unconventional vegetable and fruit options such as potatoes, sweet potato or yam, fennel, corn, cauliflower, beets, avocado, strawberries, figs, apples, pears, grape and lemon on the menu. If you don’t see a vegetable on the menu, feel free to ask. You never know what the pizza shop has on hand that they are willing to add to your pizza!
As a vegetarian or vegan, you know that getting protein is essential. Thankfully, vegan and vegetarian protein options are accessible at an increasing number of pizza shops. Choose from options like falafel, tofu, black bean, vegan sausage, cashews, walnuts and egg. Your choice of sauce and toppings will help you determine the ideal protein to choose. For example, if you have hummus and bruschetta as your sauces and eggplant, tomato and peppers as your toppings, then falafel is the no-brainer option. But if you went with barbeque sauce of any type and lots of vegetables, then black bean or vegan sausage are better choices.
For vegans, your pizza quest ends here. For Lacto-Ovo vegetarians, adding a layer of cheese can finish up your pie. As with dough, originally the only cheese options were cheese, which typically meant a cheese blend of mozzarella and cheddar, and extra cheese. These days, you can add feta cheese or parmesan cheese, goat cheese or bocconcini (baby mozzarella), even four cheese blend. As with the other elements of your pizza, your choice of cheese should complement the toppings and sauces you selected.
We hope that you’re now prepared to experiment and find your best vegetarian pizza.