Pizza, everyone’s favourite fun food, is even better when it’s made with the season’s tastiest veggies. Think hearty greens, beets, squash, and sweet potatoes. “The beauty of making a vegetable pizza is that there’s no right or wrong — pretty much anything you love goes, and you can make it really exciting,” says Emily Hyland, of Pizza Loves Emily in New York and Emmy Squared.

Her No. 1 rule: Experiment by prepping veggies in different ways for a variety of tastes and textures. Read on for Hyland’s creative ideas for perking up your veggie pizza, plus her tips on baking the best crust.

Start Off with the Best Crust

  1. Buy uncooked dough at your favourite place. Most of them will sell it to you — just ask.
  2. Use a pizza stone, the back of a pre-heated baking sheet, or a pan that conducts heat well, like a cast-iron skillet, to cook your pizza. This will give the crust crispiness and some char too, says Hyland.
  3. A hot oven creates the best crust. Bake your pizza at 260°C, or as close as you can get to it.

Get Creative with Veggies

Nothing is off-limits when it comes to prepping veggies for pie, says Hyland. Start with the methods below, then play around. For the ultimate experience, combine all three ideas on one veggie pizza.

Keep them crunchy

Roasting hearty vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, beets, and squash before putting them on your pizza deepens their flavour and gives them a pleasant chewiness, says Hyland.

Turn them into a sauce

Puree steamed, roasted, or sautéed vegetables, and spread across your pizza for all-over flavour. Try butternut squash with sage, mushrooms with truffle oil, or a punchy red pepper puree.

Pickle them

Balance the rich, creamy notes of a cheesy pizza with the acidity from pickled vegetables, says Hyland. Some good options: pickled jalapeños, onions, Calabrian chillis, cauliflower, and kimchi.

Go for leafy greens

Greens on top of pizza elevates the eating experience, lending a textural contrast between the cool leaves and warm crust,” says Hyland. She likes hearty varieties like kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and a crunchy slaw. Add a zesty pop from vinaigrette, and dig in.

Load Up On Toppings

Pizza
Credit: Quin Engle/Unsplash

These ingredients will take your veggie pizza in a bold new direction. Experiment with a few of them, or layer on a bunch for even more goodness.

  • Fresh herbs: Scatter leafy-green herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, oregano, thyme, and tarragon over your sauce.
  • Cheese: What’s a pizza without it? Use mozzarella, pecorino, ricotta, Havarti, smoked Gouda — whatever you like.
  • Pesto: Blend herbs with olive oil and nuts like pistachios, almonds, or hazelnuts to make a pesto, and spoon on top of the veggie pizza before cooking it.
  • Chillis: Infuse olive oil with Calabrian chillis, and drizzle on your veggie pizza.
  • Squash: Make a creamy puree with it, and use as a sauce.
  • Kimchi: It delivers spicy, tangy flavours and texture.
  • Crunchy vegetables: Cauliflower and broccoli are great roasted until just crisp-tender.
  • Olives: A handful of green Castelvetrano and kalamata olives adds saltiness and a pleasantly briny flavour.
  • Salsa: Use it as a sauce for a Mexican-style pizza.
  • Honey: It’s the ideal drizzle for a veggie pizza, boosting the flavour of the pie with its sweetness and depth, says Hyland.
  • Jalapeños: Like it hot? Slice jalapeños thinly, and sprinkle over pizza.
  • Beets: Shave them, layer them on pizza, drizzle with flavoured oil, and bake.
  • Red onions: Pickle them to add some notes of acidity.
  • Dried herbs and spices: Oregano is a classic; try Aleppo pepper or chilli flakes for a little heat.
  • Mushroom Truffle Cream Sauce: Puree mushrooms with truffle oil, and dollop on pizza.

This story first appeared on www.shape.com

(Main and Feature Image Credit: Greg Dupree)

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