Quick and Easy Vegan Pesto and Potato Pizza

Vegan Pesto Pizza

 If you're vegan (like I am), vegetarian, or simply looking for an easy pizza recipe to switch up with meat and cheese and whatever else--here you go! This recipe is inspired by the "You Say Potato" pizza from Escape from New York, a well known pizzeria in San Francisco. My wife and I used to make this pizza in college when we felt like mixing up our basic mushroom, olive, and bell pepper combo. This pizza is all about the pesto and potato, and very green--a perfect pizza for St. Pat's day!

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You can definitely knock this pizza out in 30 min. if you plan accordingly. This means picking up some pre-made dough at Trader Joe's, as well as the vegan pesto pictured below, garlic, a russet potato, and vegan mozzarella on your way home, or even ahead of time.

TJs pesto.jpg

A note about TJ's pizza dough: one serving of dough is about enough for a personal sized pizza. You can stretch it to 14" for a thin crust, like we usually do. If you prefer a thicker crust, you may want to pick up a second bag of dough.

A note about cheese: First of all, if you're not vegan or experimenting with veganism, use whatever cheese you want. If you do want a vegan pizza, use whatever vegan cheese you prefer. Personally, I prefer Daiya, which means a trip to Whole foods. Daiya melts well and acts most like dairy cheese, in my opinion. Other brands can get kind of greasy and weird. The key to using any brand of vegan cheese is to use less than you think you should. Less is more. Really. 

First, I remove the TJ's dough from the bag and set it on the cooking surface. Especially if it has been in the refrigerator, give it a few minutes to get to room temperature. You can use a baking pan, or whatever you prefer to cook it on. Personally, I put the dough straight on the pizza stone. Note that I use the pizza stone like a baking sheet, essentially. Cornmeal is the best option between the dough and the stone, but flour will do in a pinch. 

Then I preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. It should be at temperature by the time you're ready to slide in the pizza. 

Next, you prepare your potato, which is as complicated as this pizza gets. Peel the potato, then cut into slices a little less than a 1/4 inch thick. Put enough water in a small pot to cover the slices, then set it to boil on the stove.

I suppose you don't have to peel the potato, but we do.

While you wait for your water to boil, you can roll out your pizza dough. If the dough seems too sticky, a light dusting of flour over it can help. Rather than attempt to toss the dough, I use my fingers to flatten it on the stone. Then I pick it up and pull at the edges to stretch it. Then I return the dough to the stone and stretch it the rest of the way with my fingers.  I like to stretch out my dough to almost the edge of our pizza stone. We're a thin crust family, and the TJ's dough lends itself well to this. 

Once you've got the dough set up, pop it in the oven for a bit of pre-cooking so it doesn't get soggy when you start to add toppings. (4-6 min.) This is something we do for all homemade pizzas at our house. 

While the crust precooks, mince the 4 cloves of garlic and set aside. If you're using dairy cheese, you'll want to grate that as well. The vegan cheese should be all ready to go in shreds.

Your water should be boiling by now, so add all your potato slices. You won't use them all for the pizza, but better to have more than not enough! Boil them until softened enough to easily stab with a fork but not too soft (a couple minutes). Gently drain and set aside. 

Pull the pizza crust out. Time for final assembly! We like a pretty thick layer of pesto on the pizza, and with the precooked crust, there's no reason to hold back! Next I laid out a layer of the potato slices and then the garlic. Lastly, a thin layer of the cheese on top. Daiya works great on pizzas but any mild, shredded cheese should do. And remember, if you're using vegan cheese, use less than you think you should. 

Bake the assembled pizza for about 12 minutes, or until the crust and cheese look golden and beautiful like the second image above. Let cool for a minute or two, slice and enjoy!


Pizza Toppings:

-4 cloves garlic (minced)

-1 russet potato (peeled and sliced)

-mozzarella style vegan cheese (Daiya, or any brand you prefer) 

Other Ingredients:

-Trader Joe's pre-made dough (1-2 bags, depending on how thick you want the crust)

-6oz Trader Joe's Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto 

-cornmeal or flour for dusting

Other Toppings to Try:

-red onions and chopped kale

-veggie bacon bits

-homemade dill pesto (in place of kale-basil)

-cheddar and bacon

Special Equipment:

-baking sheet (something to cook pizza on)

-pizza cutter