4/2/12

Spice in the Kitchen: Vegan Ricotta Pizza Bites & Calzones

Stuffed vegan ricotta pizza bites served with extra ricotta for dipping. Raw asparagus is so good!




The other day, Mr. Scissors came home with a big bag of brussels sprouts and I just knew that I had to do something interesting with them. Somehow the idea of brussels with bacon sounded good, but with what else? Ricotta! Ok, and how would that all come together? Whole wheat pizza! My original plan was to just make a large pie, but since I endeavored on this experiment at lunch time, I decided to make mini-muffin sized pizza bites and to also play with other ideas on how to combine these flavors.

Use this recipe as a rough guide for making your own pizzas. I personally found the calzones to have the best taste and texture since the cauliflower retained its moisture when baked. The mini flat pizzas were also great! The stuffed bites were hard to assemble and hard to remove from the pan, but they looked super fancy--great appetizer for a party.

Vegan Ricotta, Cauliflower, & Tempeh Bacon Pizza (and Calzones!) Recipe 

Ingredients

  • Premade whole wheat pizza dough (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 1 recipe for vegan alfredo (using the substitutions below)
  • 2-3 cups shredded cauliflower
  • 1 package tempeh bacon
  • olive oil
  • salt
Assembly of the stuffed, muffin pan pizza bites. This was the most complicated version to make!



Directions
There are lots of steps, but it is fairly simple to prepare, so don't be dismayed.

1) If using premade pizza dough (both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods sells unbaked pizza dough), bring it to room temp by letting it sit out for about a half hour.

2) Prepare ricotta. I used this recipe from Veganicom with some slight changes:

  • First, I used extra firm organic tofu and pressed it using my handy dandy TofuXpress.
  • Next, I soaked the cashew for 15 minutes in very warm water. I find soaking the cashews when making vegan chese helps break them down and assists in getting rid of that granular texture if you use then dry.
  • I also subbed out 1/8 cup of the lemon juice with 1/8 cup of alcohol-free white wine and a 1/4 tsp of sage, 1/4 tsp of oregano, fresh thyme, fresh basil and some fresh parsley (thanks to our herb garden that never really died over the winter!) because I thought this flavor combo would compliment the flavors of the brussels and the tempeh bacon. Plus, I have authority issues and totally have the inability to follow non-baked good recipes exactly. ; )

3) While the cashew and tofu are doing their thing, shred your package of tempeh bacon and shred your brussels (you'll need about 2-3 cups once you do this). Fry the bacon and a dash of red pepper flakes in olive oil until crispy and then add the brussels. Sautee them together with a squirt of brown mustard until the brussels soften and turn bright green. Remove from flame and set aside.

4) Now drain the excess water from the cashews and tofu and prepare the ricotta according to the directions. If you chose, using the subs I listed above (I really think the wine makes it awesome!). Set aside.

5) Preheat your oven to 450.

1) Stuffing a mini-calzone before baking. 2) Mini pizzas, itty ricotta stuffed bites, calzone. 3) All three baked and yummy!


6) Now, you can decide if you will make pizza, calzones, pizza bites.

  • If you would like to make pizza: roll out your dough, top with some of the ricotta (you'll have extra) and your brussels and tempeh mixture. Bake on a greased baking pan for about 10-15 minutes or until the dough is properly cooked. You can also make smaller, bite-sized pizzas using this method as well.
  • If you would like pizza bites baked in a mini muffin tin: spray the muffin tin very, very well with oil. Pinch of 1" round pieces of dough and line each indentation with it. Fill with ricotta and your tempeh mixture. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the dough is properly cooked.
  • For calzones: Divide your pizza dough into even sections. Roll each section into a circle, top with ricotta and brussels and bacon. Fold in half, keeping filling away from the sides. Pinch the edges closed. Place on an oiled baking pan and spray tops with oil. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve with extra ricotta for dipping.

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