Before Daiya became available in Canada, I used to order a cheese-less pizza from the local pizzeria and pretend like it was something enjoyable. It somewhat filled the gap – but nothing like the real thing if you are a lover of cheese. Cheese was something that I was afraid I would miss dearly when I gave up the animal product, but it was only a matter of time before there was a fantastic vegan equivalent on the market… Daiya cheese.
First it came in the form of Loving Hut; my little guilty pleasure vegan fast food hangout that served pizza topped with great toppings and Daiya cheese. Loving Hut also made things like vegan Caesar salad, “chicken” nuggets, and poutine made with mushroom gravy and Daiya mozza! I was in heaven if the need to indulge ever came over me. Then, one sad day, Loving Hut burnt down and it never came back. It still brings a tear to my eye to think of it. Sadly Loving Hut fell off the Vancouver circuit.
But one day – one GLORIOUS day, Daiya cheese came to Canada! Now all North Americans alike can make a perfect pizza that doesn’t cost them a Loving Hut arm and leg. My pizzas taste (If I may toot my own horn) like pizza found in the land of the boot – it doesn’t get better than this! I can’t say enough wonderful things about this stuff. It behaves EXACTLY as cheese should. It melts, it stretches, it re-heats beautifully – it IS cheese! Daiya does a cheddar and a mozza version of shredded cheese and they have recently added a new flavor: PepperJack! Tonight my vegan friends, we gave this new heavenly flavor a whirl on one of our Canucks playoff game pizzas. The outcome? Brilliance.
I can’t take credit for these pies. Jason made them both from scratch tonight (dough and all!). I’m not posting a specific recipe for toppings with this blog entry because pizza is really a personal creation. He made a “Meat” Lovers pie with Daiya PepperJack and an Italian Veggie with Daiya Mozza. The one thing I would suggest is that you don’t want to use too many vegetables that contain a lot of water or you will end up with a soggy crust as the water is released during baking. If you really want to load your pizza, I’d suggest cooking off, or roasting the veg in advance, but on pizza, sometimes less is more. A few mushrooms, some spinach, a little red onion….the list is wide open for you to create the pizza masterpiece you can call your own. Finish with a light layer of Daiya and bake in a 450F oven for about 25 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown and bubble and the crust is golden. Here is Jason’s pizza dough recipe, but you can always use a pre-made pizza shell in a pinch, which you can buy at most grocery stores.
1 cup water (room temperature)
3/4 tsp agave nectar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 2/3 cups spelt flour *
1/2 + 1 tbsp kamut flour*
1 3/4 tsp yeast
*you could use any glutenous flour here
Jason made this in the bread machine on the dough cycle, but you could just as easily make it by hand. In the bread machine place all the ingredients into the machine in the order that they appear and set the machine as per the instructions for the dough cycle. If making by hand, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let sit for a few minutes and then combine with the dry ingredients. Knead by hand until a dough consitency is reached, and then let rise in a warm area for about 1 hour in the bowl under a tea towel. Roll and top with your favourite toppings.