This wholesome, filling vegan green goodness pizza features herbed tofu in place of traditional cheese and plenty of green vegetables.
I love pizza, especially homemade pizza. But with many awesome vegan pizza options available in my hometown, at least under normal circumstances, it’s all too easy to avoid making my own. I’ve been wanting to institute some sort of semi-formal Friday night pizza tradition for a while now, but I often end up skipping it and treating myself to a slice made by a pro instead.
Since I’m home pretty much constantly now, and many of NYC’s eateries are re-opening slowly or delivering only outside of my neighborhood, I’m much more motivated to make my own vegan pizza pies. In the last two months, I’ve mostly used store-bought vegan mozzarella and tomato sauce. Nothing fancy, but always very welcome and satisfying. I’ve tried a few variations with vegan sausage and veggie toppings, too.
This week, with warm weather finally sticking around, I wanted to make something a little fresher and greener. In spite of the fact that I was DIY-ing, I took inspiration from the vegan-friendly pizzeria that’s closest to me, Cafe Viva.
Viva used to have two locations, one uptown and one downtown, until it became an uptown-only eatery in the last decade. For a while, it was one of the first few dedicated vegan and vegetarian pizza places in the city, and while that’s no longer the case, I have loyalty to Viva because it’s been around for so long, and it’s always been yummy.
Viva has traditional slices aplenty, but I’ve always enjoyed it’s more creative offerings, too. For a while, my favorite was the Mother Earth (soy meatballs, mushroom, peppers, broccoli, sautéed onions, and tomato sauce). Then I fell in love with the Zen (green tea herbed miso tofu, pesto, shiitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted garlic on spelt crust). The pizza I’m sharing today isn’t a replica of either, but it draws inspiration from both. I’m calling it a “green goodness” pie, because it’s both of those things: good to eat and very, very green.
In place of a vegan cheese, I made a really tasty, pesto-marinated tofu. The pesto in question is my tahini pesto, which is great on pasta, but also really good as a spread for sandwiches or wraps. It’s denser and richer, I think, than regular pesto, and I suspected it would work really well as a tofu marinade. I’m a big fan of folding tahini into tofu scramble for creaminess, and the same principle applies here.
The rest of the pie is unfussy: just broccoli (I used frozen and defrosted florets) and spinach. Of course, you could use all sorts of other vegetables here: thinly sliced asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, peppers, and caramelized onions would all taste good. And if the pesto tofu on its own doesn’t quite do it for you, the addition of vegan cheese wouldn’t hurt one bit 🙂
The crust here is my go-to. I use 00 flour when I can get it (I had some in my pantry pre-quarantine, so I used it here), and all-purpose the rest of the time. Sometimes, when I’m craving a nuttier flavor, I use a 1:1 combination of all purpose and white whole wheat or whole wheat. I can vouch for all three, and if you’re not in the mood to make crust from scratch, store bought is A-OK, too. Here’s the recipe.
The pizza recipe makes between 6 and 8 servings (two or three smaller sized pizzas). If you’re cooking for one or two, you can cut the recipe in half or simply treat yourself to the gift of leftover pizza! I love my slices with a simple green salad and lemony vinaigrette, or with some sautéed leafy greens. And FYI, the herbed tofu is a nice little topping for toast or a tortilla pizza, if you’re not in the mood for the whole shebang.
Pizza is one of those quintessential comfort food meals that seems particularly welcome right now. This version is a little different—a little greener and more herbaceous, a little more nutritious and slightly less melty. A friend of mine, whom I’ve taken with me to Cafe Viva, would call it “hippie pizza.” But it’s got the tender crust, the acidic and slightly sweet taste of tomato, and—thanks to miso, nutritional yeast, and lemon—the saltiness and umami of cheese.
For me, it satisfies the need for comfort and the desire for something wholesome and earthy all at the same time. Hope you’ll get something like that from it, too. Happy Hump Day, friends, and I’ll be back this Sunday.
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Totally amazing pizza and I’ve shared this recipe with many friends! This is now my go-to crust recipe, even when using different toppings. To make life simple, I usually make the crust in my bread machine on the “dough” cycle. Thanks for another keeper!
Wow, so happy to hear that, Val! And great to know about the bread machine method.
This was delicious! Thanks for helping me mix up pizza night. Tonight I’m using the same herbed tofu with mushrooms + leeks + spinach. So excited! Thanks 🙂
Thank you for sharing this delicious idea for pizza! Reading your description of the herb-tahini tofu convinced me to finally overcome my hesitations about recipes containing yeast and make my own pizza. After enjoying it for dinner, I’m glad that I made that decision. Your topping suggestions satisfied both my desire for pizza and my enthusiasm for plant-forward cooking.
I’m so delighted that you had this experience, Christine! Thanks for telling me. Enjoy leftovers, if you’ve got ’em 🙂
Loved the pizza a lot! I made it for dinner yesterday and hearing my reviews, my friend plans to make it this weekend. So yummy! Thanks a lot for sharing 🙂
Hooray! So happy you liked it 🙂
YES!!! A church friend introduced us to Cafe Viva and we LOVE stopping by when we’re in the area (or rather, were). Also great minds: we made pizza tonight for the first time in a LONG time. So yummy. xo
Great pizza Gena. I used my own t&t whole wheat crust and loved all your toppings. Thanks!
So glad you enjoyed it!
Hi! How much sugar in the dough? Thank you!!
None, actually! I’m sorry for the typo in the ingredients—I’m used to adding it in pizza crusts and sandwich breads and must have written it out automatically. But lately I’ve been making the dough without it, and it doesn’t need it with the instant yeast. My transcription process for this pizza was obviously pretty topsy turvy 🙂
You’ll get a good rise simply from letting the instant yeast work on the flour and be activated by the warm water.
Got it. I just made and ate the pizza… It was delicious!! I loved the tofu instead of vegan cheese and could have eaten the herb tahini sauce on its own. 😉
Aww, yay! So glad you liked it, Alex.
This looks so yummy! I used to pick up the mini Amy’s pizzas for a treat but most of the grocery stores around here stopped carrying that size so this looks like an excellent stand in. Also might try making a sourdough crust. Inspired now 🙂
Am I missing something? I don’t see any herbs listed for the herbed tofu?
You didn’t miss anything! I’m the one who missed something. I forgot to add the basil to the ingredients for the tofu.
It’s one cup of loosely packed basil leaves, or a combination of basil and parsley leaves. Apologies for the mistake and thanks for catching it!
This looks so good. I greatly dislike tofu so would whip up a “cashew cheese” sauce or make a nut cheese and use that instead. Thanks!