For my birthday this year, I decided to make a couple of recipes I’d been eyeing ever since I picked up the July/August issue of VegNews magazine a few weeks ago. It was the perfect occasion to indulge in vegan versions of foods I remember eating at many birthday parties growing up — pizza and ice cream. The past two years I’ve celebrated at the Chicago Diner, but I chose to mix it up this year and do a completely homemade birthday meal. (I still LOVE the Chicago Diner and will absolutely be making a trip before I move away from the midwest in eight weeks).

Sharing and enjoying the treats I spent the afternoon creating was totally worth all the work that went into them!

My vegan life has been not at all pizza-less: some of my favorites are the frozen Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza, the Very Vegan from Pizza Fusion, which sadly closed its Naperville location, Balsalmic Brussel Sprout Pearl Onion Pizza, Cheesy Broccoli Pizza and my build-your-own style personal pizzas piled high with vegetables — either cheese-less or topped with Daiya non-dairy cheese. But while I’ve enjoyed all these, I have never had DEEP DISH vegan pizza…until now!

This recipe originally appeared in the 2011 July/August issue of VegNews.

Divine Deep Dish Pizza

2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
4 1/4 cups white spelt flour, divided
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon agave nectar
2 cups raw cashews
3/4 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup oil, 2 teaspoons salt, agave, and yeast mixture. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Continue to mix well until dough comes together completely and stir for 10 minutes to knead (the dough will be somewhat soft, unlike bread dough). Cover the bowl with a damp dish towel and allow the dough to rise in a warm area for 45 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a blender, process cashews, dill, 2 teaspoons salt, lemon juice, 1 cup water, and vinegar until smooth.

3. In a 12-inch cake pan (I used a 13-inch pizza pan), spread 2 tablespoons olive oil evenly over bottom and sides. Press dough along the bottom of the pan and slightly up the sides so that the thickness is consistent throughout the pan. Spread another 2 tablespoons of olive oil onto dough.

4. Add your choice of sauce and toppings, and then pour cheese sauce over the top. (I used Local Folks Foods Pizza Sauce and topped with zucchini, red pepper, artichoke hearts, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes and spinach.)

5. Bake for 18 minutes.

Slice and enjoy!

Yum!

The pizza turned out wonderfully. I was worried the crust would not hold up but it sliced easily was just the hearty deep dish pie I hoped for! Stay tuned for my next post about dessert — homemade Spumoni and Purple Cow ice cream.

–Julie

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