Vegan Strawberry Basil Pizza

Strawberry Basil Pizza 1

About 5 years ago, I had a tradition of making pizza once a week.  Trying out different toppings and cheeses every time, experimenting with something new.  It was never just the standard usual was things like caramelized fennel and onions with lemon, walnuts and pine nuts with pecorino romano...or apple gruyere with caramelized onions, and hazelnuts.  But my all time favorite out of all the recipes was a strawberry blue cheese with caramelized onions, walnuts and fresh basil.  It was heavenly.  That was the one pizza I did not mind repeating.  Sadly my pizza making has since gone by the wayside since I went vegan because I thought it would not be the same to bake a pizza without cheese and I did not really like any of the commercial vegan "melting" cheeses I had tried.  But I recently made a vegan mozzarella that made me want to try making pizza again!  It was melty, cheesy and perfect for pizza!

Strawberry Basil Pizza 2

I had to make my favorite pizza with it.  Minus the blue cheese part. But it was still amazing with just mozzarella.  This cheese is coconut milk based so it melts like a dream and I think it has much better flavor than the soy based cheeses you can buy.  If you think strawberries on pizza sounds weird, you need to try this. It is amazing. They roast into jammy goodness on the crust and you get something that is a little sweet, and a little savory and salty all at the same time. The basil adds a lovely fragrance to it. This is perfect for summer when fresh local berries are abundant, and I can pick basil right off the patio to top off the pizza!

Strawberry Basil Pizza 3

Vegan Strawberry Basil Pizza

Makes one 14 inch pizza

Vegan Mozzarella:

Adapted from Olives for Dinner's Mozzarella Recipe

1 15 oz can full fat organic coconut milk

2 Tbsp arrowroot starch

1/4 plus 1 Tbsp filtered water

3 Tbsp agar flakes or 1 Tbsp agar powder

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp sea salt or Himalayan salt

1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

1 tsp guar gum

To make the mozzarella cheese, heat the coconut milk in a saucepan, until it comes to a simmer.

Meanwhile, dissolve the arrowroot starch in the water and set aside.

Once the coconut milk has come to a simmer, add the agar flakes, and heat until they are dissolved (mine took about 8 minutes, if you are using the powder, it should dissolve within one minute).

Next, add the lemon juice and sea salt to the coconut milk.

Mix the coconut oil with the guar gum so that the guar gum does not clump up.

Turn off the heat and add the arrowroot mixture, guar gum and coconut oil. Whisk for about 30 seconds, then pour into a silicone mold (I used a loaf pan, but if you had another shape you would like to use go ahead). Refrigerate for a few hours until firm, then pop out of the mold. You will need half the cheese for this recipe, reserve the other half for another use in the fridge, wrapped in an airtight container.  Shred the half you will be using into a bowl, and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Pizza Dough:

2 cups gluten free all purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp xanthan gum

1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp filtered water

To make the pizza crust, combine the flour, cornmeal, xanthan gum and sea salt in a bowl, and whisk until well blended. Add the water, and mix in until you have a soft dough.

Turn out onto a sheet of parchment paper with a light dusting of flour, and roll out into a 14 inch circle.  Set aside.

Caramelized onions:

1 medium red onion, sliced

1 tsp olive oil

pinch of sea salt

To make the caramelized onions, heat the oil in a pan, and add the onions.  Cook, stirring often until the onions are very soft and starting to brown. Add the sea salt, and set aside.

For Pizza Assembly:

olive oil

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/4 cup raw walnuts

2 Tbsp fresh basil leaves (torn or cut chiffonade)

Pre-heat the oven to 400F degrees.  Set a pan on the center rack with an upside down sheet pan, or a pizza stone set on it. Brush the crust with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and slide the parchment with the crust on it onto the stone.

Bake crust for 15 minutes, then remove the crust from the oven (still on the parchment). Top the crust with the onions, scattering around evenly. Then the berries, and walnuts, then the cheese, making sure it is all evenly distributed.

Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown (keep an eye on it after 15 as some ovens cook faster than others). Remove the pizza and parchment from the oven, slide pizza onto a cutting board or plate, scatter basil over the top, slice and enjoy!

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