Friday, March 15, 2013

Vegan Pizzas and Quesadillas

I am always confused by baking in England. I walk into a kitchen and ask for the tablespoons, and I am handed an ordinary large spoon for the table. Similarly, requests for a teaspoon are frequently met with being handed an actual, normal tea spoon.

Nevertheless, I like to keep my spirits up by defying the odds. So, I recently decided to make two recipes I knew wouldn't fail, regardless of the kitchen limitations I faced. These were: pizza and quesadillas.

The dough for the pizza is adaptable enough to withstand slight changes in sugar and salt levels between each making, and the quesadillas require no dough at all! I went out and bought tortillas for those little buggers, and I'm pleased to say they were quick and required no measuring at all.

Pizza Dough:

Adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance

1 Cup lukewarm water (8 oz)
1-2 Tbsp sugar
1 packet of yeast
3 Cups self-rising flour (or 3 Cups plain flour + 1 tsp salt)
2 Tbsp olive oil

Begin by dissolving the sugar in the water, then add the yeast and let the concoction sit for 10 minutes until it bubbles and foams. Add the flour and oil in a large bowl, and once the yeast/sugar/water mixture is done, pour that in. Mix until combined, and then knead for 10 minutes. If the dough is too floury, add small bits to your hands and to the dough itself, but be sure not to over-flour. If the dough gets too tough, kneading and shaping will become difficult for you.

Form the dough into a ball, fill the bowl with 2 Tbsp oil and roll the dough ball around until its entire surface area is coated in the oil. Cover with clingwrap or a towel for an hour.

After an hour, punch the dough and knead for 1 minute. Cover it again and let it rise for somewhere between 30 min - an hour. When the dough has risen again, cut it in half to form two chunks, and start shaping those chunks as you please. We made rectangular pizzas, but you may choose to make circular or hexagonal pizzas! Be careful not to let the dough rip.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or so (200 C). You should really cook the pizzas at 500 F (250 C), but I never get the centers cooked enough, so I like to start off low and turn up the temperature for the last few minutes to crisp it up.

Layer your pizza with 3 - 4 Tbsp of tomato sauce. Make sure it's not too thick, or the pizza will be soggy. It's okay to have semi-bare spots. Then layer on your nutritional yeast, vegan cheese (homemade or store-bought -- we used Tofutti mozzarella  but have used Cheezly mozzarella in the past), veggies, and herbs. Drizzle the top with 1 Tbsp olive oil so that the veggies won't dry up, and use your finger to dab olive oil along the crust edges. Mmm.

Cook for 10 - 12 minutes, then increase heat to 500 F (250 C) for another 3 - 5 minutes. Modify as you see fit.


We didn't know what we were doing, so we basically made it up. Upon reading food blogs since then, I think we did okay. My partner had never had quesadillas before and didn't even really know what they were, so we figured this whole thing out together. (Note: we both loved them!). We used store-bought cheese and nutritional yeast to get the flavor right, and to stick the tortillas together once folded over, and filled these babies with homemade soy mince crumbles.

Serves: 2 half-quesadillas, or 1 extra-large quesadilla

2 flour tortillas (extra-large!)
a little oil

divide all of the following in half, one for each quesadilla:

1 block vegan cheese (we used Tofutti Mozzarella)
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
    * 1 red bell pepper
    * 4 very large button mushrooms 
    * 1/2 onion, chopped coarsely
    * handful of spinach leaves, torn up haphazardly into small pieces
1 Cup vegan mince


1 Cup hot water
1 bouillon cube (vegetable broth)
1 Cup soya mince / textured vegetable protein (TVP) / textured soy protein

1/2 onion, minced finely
1 - 2 tsp olive oil
1/2 - 1 tsp red chili flakes (mm!)
1 - 2 Tbsp tomato sauce
* dash of soy sauce (optional)

Heat the water and add the bouillon cube. Mix and let dissolve. Once dissolved, add the dried mince / TVP and let the whole thing sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil into a large pan with sides and add the onions. Once the onions start to soften, add the chili flakes. Stir for a minute or so, and then add the damp TVP mixture and integrate everything. Once cooked through, add some soy sauce if you'd like, and add the tomato sauce. Let any extra liquids boil off, but make sure to keep the mince from burning.

Finally, begin to assemble your first quesadillas. Place a dollop of oil in a large frying pan, and swirl it around. Heat the tortilla on medium heat, trying to elevate one side (you'll be folding this tortilla in half, and you don't want it to crack!). I rested half the tortilla edge on one of the lips/sides of the pan. Then start topping your tortilla: add half of the cheese and nutritional yeast you're going to be using for this tortilla (so, that's a quarter of the total cheese amount you have). Layer on your veggies, and top with your mince. Finally, put your other half of cheese on the very top, and flip the unused, less-heated half of the tortilla over the whole thing. You should have a nice semi-circle now. Let the quesadilla cook for 2 - 3 minutes, and then flip it over if you can. Let the other side cook for about a minute, and then serve.

Repeat for the second tortilla / quesadilla. 

Alternatively, if you have a large enough pan, you can simply put one tortilla down, top it with everything you want, and then put the second tortilla on top. Presto! The whole thing is done, no flipping or heat-avoiding necessary.

And there you have it! Several cheesy, tomato-y, yummy meals for two, and almost all with the exact same ingredients. Very little time needed to prepare, besides a few minutes kneading the dough, and the time it takes to fix up the pizzas and quesadillas with toppings. Nice, right? Enjoy!

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