The Best Vegetarian Pizza
You're about to learn how to make a delicious homemade vegetarian pizza—from the crust to the sauce to the healthy toppings.
This pizza crust packs fiber and protein using a blend of whole wheat, all-purpose, and soy or garbanzo bean flours. The low-sodium pizza sauce recipe is simple to make and rivals anything you can find in stores. The topping ideas will add even more nutrition and flavor to your pizza and might even inspire you to come up with toppings of your own.
Frozen Pizza Nutrition Scorecard
Frozen pizzas are filling shopping carts all over America. The top 10 frozen pizza brands alone generated over $4.4 billion in sales in the U.S. in 2013. While frozen pizzas are convenient and recent brand additions have brought taste variety to the market, the nutrition profile and overall taste cannot compete with a homemade pizza. The scorecard below highlights nutrition information of five grocery store brands, two in the organic market, and a slice of homemade pizza. The homemade pizza scores much higher in fiber, lower in calories and fat, and less than half the sodium.
(Note: Nutrition information for the Homemade Pizza is based on one serving of the crust and sauce recipes below topped with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese, 2 tomato slices, 3 basil leaves, 2 mushrooms, & ¼ cup chopped kale)
Digiorno Spinach, Mushroom & Garlic Pizza (1/6 pizza 143g)
Kashi Margherita Pizza (1/3 pizza 113g)
Freschetta Margherita Pizza (1/6 pizza 129g)
Amy’s Margherita Pizza (1/3 pizza 4.33oz)
California Pizza Kitchen Fire Roasted Vegetables (1/3 pizza 135g)
Homemade Pizza Slice
Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
Soy or garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour replaces half of the all-purpose flour in this recipe to increase the protein content and improve the nutrition profile overall. It provides a subtle nutty flavor to this healthy crust. After you've made your crust, scroll down for a delicious, low-sodium pizza sauce recipe.
- 1 cup whole-wheat flour, organic
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, organic
- 1/2 cup soy or garbanzo bean flour, organic
- 1 package quick-rising yeast
- 3/4 to 1 cup hot water, (120–130 degrees F)
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, optional
- Combine flours, yeast, and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to mix ingredients. Combine hot water with olive oil in a measuring cup. Turn the food processor on and gradually pour in the liquid until the mixture forms a sticky ball. If it seems to dry, add additional hot water one tablespoon at a time. If it seems too sticky, add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time. Process for an additional minute.
- Spray a plate and one side of a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray. Place the dough on the plate and cover, sprayed side down, with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 15–20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. If using a pizza stone, place the stone in a heated oven on the middle rack for 15–20 minutes before placing rolled dough on top.
- Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface to about a 14-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to heated pizza stone (or other pizza baking pan) and bake until the pizza crust is crisp and golden, about 5–8 minutes. To create the pizza, assemble pizza sauce and toppings on the baked crust and return to oven for an additional 8–10 minutes.
Commercial Pizza Sauce Sodium Levels
The high sodium in pizza comes from two sources: the cheese and the sauce. To make sure high sodium doesn't creep into your homemade creation, go easy on the cheese and steer clear of the store-bought cans and jars of pizza sauce. Use the recipe below to make your own homemade sauce. At only 7mg of sodium per serving, it is low in sodium and full of flavor. Consider the levels of sodium in store brands below.
|Product||Sodium per Serving|
Ragu Homemade Style Pizza Sauce
Prego Veggie Smart Pizza Sauce
Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce
Trader Joe's Pizza Sauce
Low-Sodium Pizza Sauce Recipe
Easy Pizza Sauce Recipe
So flavorful and delicious, you won’t believe that this pizza sauce only has 9mg of sodium per serving! This recipe makes a double batch (12 servings) that can be used for two pizzas. You can use half now and freeze the other half for your next pizza night.
- Calories 32
- Fat 1g
- Carbohydrates 5g
- Fiber 1g
- Protein 1g
- Sodium 7mg
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, or water
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 1–2 tsp oregano
- 1–2 tsp basil
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce, such as Pomi brand
- 4 tbsp no-salt-added tomato paste
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, sauté onion for 6 to 8 minutes until onion is soft.
- Add garlic and sauté another minute.
- Add oregano and remaining spices and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in tomato sauce and paste.
- Simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes.
15 Healthy Vegetarian Pizza Toppings
Below are some healthy and tasty toppings to add to your pizza. Be generous with the veggies and herbs so that you can go light on the cheese. Don't limit yourself to this list. Be creative with your toppings and make it your own pizza creation!
- Fresh Basil
- Fresh Garlic
- Mushrooms (try different varieties)
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Bell Peppers
- Arugula (try it stacked on top after cooking)
- Fresh Red Tomatoes
- Heirloom Tomatoes
- Oven-Roasted Tomatoes
Easy on the Cheese
Pack the veggie toppings above on your pizza but go easy on the cheese. Cheese is the primary source of fat, the saturated variety, and sodium on your pizza. Try one of these cheese varieties below cubed, shredded, grated, or crumbled.
- Pecorino Romano
- Vegan cheese
- Easy tofu "ricotta" (see below)
Silicone Mat for Rolling Pizza Dough
Use a silicone mat like the one below that is marked with circles to indicate how much to roll the dough. Adjust the circle to your pan size and also to the desired crust thickness.
Easy Tofu "Ricotta"
This is a simple way to make your pizza dairy-free with an easy, flavorful, and creamy topping. It's fast and simple!
- Mash an 8-ounce carton of firm tofu with a fork
- Add 1–2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast to taste and mix well (add spices if desired)
- Dollop the "ricotta" mixture on top of the pizza just before putting it in the oven
The origins of early “pizzas” can be traced back as far as the Neolithic age. Throughout ancient history, people have been adding toppings to breads. Tomatoes didn’t make an appearance until the 18th century when citizens of Naples began adding tomato to their flatbreads. Americans had brought tomatoes to Europe in the 16th century but for many years, Europeans thought the fruit to be poisonous.
Italians brought “pizza” to the U.S., and it was mostly enjoyed in just Italian American communities until World War II. American soldiers stationed in Italy during the war ate pizza and brought the demand for more back to the States. Since then, pizza has evolved to include hundreds of variations and quickly became a staple of the American diet. According to a 2012 consumer survey by Packaged Facts, 97% of adults in the U.S. eat pizza.1
1"The Pizza Market in the U.S.: Foodservice and Retail." : Market Research Report. Packaged Facts, 14 Sept. 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2014. <http://www.packagedfacts.com/Pizza-Foodservice-Retail-6739179/>.
"Facts About Frozen Pizza." Frozen Pizza Facts. National Frozen Pizza Institute, n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014. <http://www.frozenpizzafacts.org/facts-about-frozen-pizza>.
© 2014 Marcelle Bell