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Meatless Monday: Start the week with a pizza party

Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...

Mamma mia! Meat-free pizza options!

Kids are heading back to school and the leisurely vibe of summer is quickly drawing to a close. That means back to the grind for most of us. It also means that sometimes meals are made without much thought or picked up in a hurry, which can lead to some not-so-healthy choices (fast food, anyone?).

Mom and daughter making pizza

For an easy, quick and festive Meatless Monday (or any day of the week), all it takes is a handful of ingredients for a healthier, meat-free and satisfying meal. And who doesn't love pizza? From toppings galore to different types of crusts and ways to prepare it, pizza is the perfect mealtime choice! Add a green salad and you've got the makings of a great meal.

Eliminating meat from your diet even one day a week can help keep your weight down, fight diseases, reduce pollution and even help you avoid risk to food-borne illnesses. Cutting back on meat is good for the environment, too. For example, anywhere from 1,800-2,500 gallons of water go into producing a pound of beef vs. 220 gallons of water for a pound of tofu. So what are your options? Try these meat-free pizza ideas!

Pizza pairings

Some of these combos might not be new to you, but if they are, give them a try! Show your adventurous side and mix-and-match toppings for a true "personal pizza." Whatever you think you might like, go for it. When you run out of ideas, think about your favorite restaurant pizza and try to recreate it at home!

  • Mexican pizza – Black beans, corn, avocado and pepper jack cheese
  • Mediterranean pizza - Sun dried tomatoes, spinach, red sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil
  • Green pizza – use pesto for your sauce and top with dollops of ricotta cheese. Pesto can be made with arugula, basil, spinach or asparagus for something even more different
  • White pizza – Mozzarella and shaved Parmesan or pecorino Romano with garlic and tomatoes (no sauce), or this white pizza recipe with alfredo sauce
  • Veggie pizza - Zucchini, red peppers, onion and red sauce (really, use any veggies you have on hand!)
  • Fruit-bearing pizza – Try pear, Gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onions (no sauce required); or pineapple, onion, hot peppers and mozzarella; or apple, walnuts and cheddar pizza
  • Mushroom pizza – This recipe calls for two types of mushrooms and pesto sauce. You could also use tomato sauce if you prefer.

Pizza pie prep

Everyone has a favorite pizza crust, from thick to thin, oven baked to wood-fired or grilled. There are several ways to prepare the perfect pizza. Check out the following ideas:

1Grill it

  • Prep your grill by brushing it lightly with olive oil before it's hot.
  • Use prepared or homemade pizza dough, roll it out to a round disk, dust one side with cornmeal or flour and place it on an unrimmed baking sheet (or the bottom side of a rimmed baking sheet).
  • When the grill is hot, gently remove the dough from the pan and place it on the grill. Close the lid and allow it to cook for about 2 minutes. The bottom should be browned. If it's not evenly browned, carefully rotate the dough and cook for another minute or two.
  • Remove the pizza disk and put it back on your baking sheet, with the cooked side down.
  • Add a bit of olive oil to your pizza dough and spread it around, then add sauce and toppings (not too heavy or your pizza will be soggy).
  • Close the grill lid and bake until the bottom of the pizza gets charred and the cheese is melted.
  • Carefully remove with a spatula and serve.

2

Try a calzone or stuffed pizza, deep-dish or thin crust pizza.

3

Make a gluten-free pizza.

4

In a pinch? Use crescent rolls as pizza dough topped with cream cheese and your favorite veggies.

5

Fix a flatbread pizza. Flatbread is a simple and rustic bread, and typically pretty thin. It's usually maybe without yeast so the dough doesn't rise. Make the base flatbread recipe and top with your favorite ingredients or try this SheKnows flatbread pizza:

Grilled onion, garlic and tarragon flatbread pizza

Serves 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 2 medium sweet onions, quartered and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, minced
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 2 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat grill to high heat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine water, olive oil, salt, flour and sugar. Mix well until a dough forms, taking care to not over mix.
  3. Dump dough out of bowl onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 sections. Roll each section out flat into a rectangle or circle. Set aside, covered with a damp towel.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet and sauté onions and garlic until golden. Stir in tarragon and cook 1 to 2 more minutes.
  5. Spread onion mixture evenly on both pieces of dough. Sprinkle with both cheeses and place dough on grill. Close lid and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until bottom of dough has grill marks on it and cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Everyone loves pizza and with a few simple ingredients and not much fuss in the kitchen, it makes the perfect Meatless Monday meal. With so many meat-free pizza options, you could have pizza almost every night of the week!

More Meatless Monday recipes

Meatless Monday Mediterranean style
Meatless Monday: Make it fun
Meatless Monday: What's in the news
Meatless Monday: Summer fruits and veggies

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