6 Vegetarian Pizza Toppings You Definitely Need To Try At Home
From traditional and authentic to modern and creative, there’s a lot more to pizza than meat-lovers and supreme. Here are our top picks for creative and delicious vegetarian pizzas.
If you’ve ever researched the history of the pizza (and why wouldn’t you), you’d know that the original pizza – the Marinara – is not only vegetarian, it’s vegan. A couple of centuries before we’d heard of ‘meat lovers’ and ‘supreme’, the villagers of Naples started adding tomato, olive oil and oregano to their flat bread and the humble pizza was born.
These days there are as many pizza toppings as there are hungry uni students ordering take away, but too often people assume pizza needs meat to be tasty. Last year, popular Sydney pizzeria Gigi caused a stir by launching a fully vegan menu, with many wondering whether the business would go under. Despite the massive change, the queues still go out the door and round the corner.
Too many vegetarian pizzas are covered in flavourless black olives, limp mushrooms and oily roasted vegetables. It needn’t be so! Get fresh with these vegetarian topping suggestions or create your own.
We had to include the original and the best. For a truly authentic experience, try one of Sydney’s pizzerias awarded Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana certification (the credential which lets pizza eaters know they follow the Very Important Pizza Rules from Naples for legit pizza).
For home cooks, there are countless online recipes for making authentic Margherita but you don’t need authenticity for it to be delicious. Find a pizza dough recipe that works for you (or cheat with store-bought bases). Buy fresh basil, good quality passata or crushed tomatoes (don’t get pre-made pizza sauces, they’re always too sweet) and quality cheese (buy buffalo mozzarella if it’s pay day).
#2 Vegetarian Hawaiian
The great debate – to pineapple or not to pineapple – can tear families apart. Far from authentic or even gourmet, many think fruit on pizza is a crime, but if you grew up loving the ubiquitous combination of ham and pineapple, use the following toppings to make this vego adaptation.
–Add oregano, chopped garlic, finely sliced onion, chilli flakes, salt & pepper.
–Top with sliced button mushrooms, red capsicum, green olives and pineapple (sweet corn kernels are also a great addition).
–Top with mozzarella.
#3 Potato pizza
This carbohydrate fiesta is another traditional pizza that can be adapted a few ways. Many recipes are ‘cheese optional’ so perfect for vegans. If you want to pretend it’s healthy, add some mixed mushrooms.
–Potato pizza doesn’t use a tomato base. A combination of herbs, garlic and olive oil works a treat.
–Top with finely sliced potato. You don’t need to pre-cook it but do make sure you slice it finely with a mandolin or peeler so it’ll cook evenly and crisp up nicely.
–Add salt, pepper and rosemary; for extra decadence use truffle oil or truffle paste.
–Choose your cheese (mozzarella, blue cheese, parmesan – it’s all good).
#4 Zucchini, lemon, chili, feta and mint
I can’t remember where I first found the recipe for this delicious flavor combination but whoever you are, mystery chef, I thank you. Fresh and light, it almost makes pizza healthy.
–This recipe is tomato base optional. It works both ways, but leaving the tomato sauce off the pizza really lets the other flavours sing. Use a base of olive oil, a little lemon juice, a sprinkling of dried thyme and oregano, chopped garlic and sliced Spanish onion.
–Lightly grill or fry thin ribbons of zucchini (use a mandolin slicer or a vegetable peeler); a grill pan gives them pretty charred stripes.
–Put the slices on your pizza base and top with chili flakes and crumbled feta.
–Once cooked, squeeze a lemon wedge over the pizza and top with chopped fresh mint. Don’t cook the mint, it’ll wilt and go brown.
#5 Ottolenghi’s egg, spinach and pecorino pizza
You need to try this Middle Eastern inspired pizza and if you’re into vegetarian cooking you should immediately purchase at least one Ottolenghi cookbook.
Another tomato-free option, you top individual portions of pizza dough with grated pecorino, followed by wilted spinach, olive oil, za’atar, sumac and black pepper, building the edges of the spinach up to create a little well for the egg. When it’s nearly cooked, you crack an egg into the well, spread around the whites (leaving the yolk whole) and sprinkle on salt. Cook for 5 more minutes. This one is fantastic for breakfast.
#6 ‘What’s in the fridge’ pizza
As the title suggests, this isn’t a recipe, it’s a pizza-loving philosophy. The pizza principle – bread + toppings + cheese – can be applied in so many ways, so you don’t need to stick to recipes or tradition when you’re craving that comfort food hit. Experiment with your pizza toppings and you’ll come up with amazing combinations of your own. Or you can start with these:
–Sliced kale (massage it with olive oil and salt before you put it on the pizza), cauliflower, broccoli, artichoke hearts, green pepper, cherry tomatoes, feta, mozzarella dill, parsley, lemon and mint.
–Roasted pumpkin and/or beetroot, chilli flakes, sage (dried or fresh), pine nuts, goats cheese and parmesan.
–Caramelised onion, pear, blue cheese and walnut.
Ciao boring pizza. Buon appetito!
Maeve Marsden is a freelance writer, director, producer and performer, and the creator of Sydney cabaret act, Lady Sings it Better. You can find her on Twitter here.
Lead image: Food Lover Odyssey