This pizza is the perfect hook-up; it’ll never let you down. I’ve been imagining this recipe and today I finally decided to try making it, and it worked so damn well! Now I just need everyone to try is and give me their opinion… So if your looking for an excuse to eat pizza… here it is.
So, before I turned vegan I was obsessed with pizza. I always wanted take-out, and could usually demolish a large one. But as time went on and my healthy eating took hold… My love affair with the circular Italian doughy dish fell away. In fact, I began to dread the thick pizza base the most. Something about it’s heavy texture no longer appealed to me, and it still doesn’t. So I began to think about alternatives to the traditional dough that forms the base of the traditional pizza.
I was aware of cauliflower-based pizzas and they interested me… but it didn’t quite check the box of a light pizza base, that holds evenly like a dough and still carries that gooey texture of the centre of a pizza, rather than the dry crust that surrounds the circumference. Queue the technical analysis of the perfect alt-pizza. Indie pizza. A pizza that wades against the mainstream. A pizza which only drinks fresh artisian, Guatamalan full-bodied roast coffee in public with a beard and oversized glasses. You get it, lets move on…
As you will know, the best part of a traditional pizza for most, is the warm, topping coated centre of the slice; with a base that’s softened with melted cheese and heat from the oven. Also for most, the worst part is the end of the slice; the chunky, dry, tough wedge of dough that’s purpose appears only to act as a dam for the array of toppings which weigh down the centre of the pizza. Most people leave the crusts of pizzas, like little tombstones for the previously precious pizza pre-demolished. Pretty sad, huh? I therefore wanted to eliminate this unwanted and unnecessary part of the pizza; along with the dairy and unhealthy ingredients in most original recipes.
So what was going to provide me with a doughy base, using minimal ingredients; all of which healthy? It was then that I discovered the gem that is ‘Socca’.
Socca is a French flat bread made using chickpea flour (a.k.a gram flour). This is the flour used in tortillas. I immediately imagined that using a socca recipe as a base may be the answer to my perfectly textured pizza. So I furthered my research. It appeared socca only really required gram flour, water, and flavourings. Perfect. So I tested out a recipe and produced a series socca breads. The texture was gooey and soft, and I’d already had plans popping into my head about flavouring I could add. But the dough seemed slightly too soft, and I decided I needed to give it a little umph to up the strength of the base required to hold pizza toppings. What else would I turn to other than chia seeds?
Chia seeds are so cool because they expand in liquid when left for a while… which means they would hold my socca base just that little bit more; as well as adding a sprinkling of healthy fats and vitamins.
But what about the cheese?
Ah yes, the cheese. The common struggle with vegan pizzas. Yes, many use vegan cheese as a topping; but I’m always pretty sceptical about the ingredients in those cheeses, plus the flavour just doesn’t cut it for me. So, what about cashew cheese? Possibly… but cashew cheese flavour-wise, works better as a sour cream alternative rather than a pizza topping… So I decided I needed to plunge out of the box and into the depths of different. So, I got a seat in Starbucks, purchased a flannel shirt and a copy of The Fault in Our Stars, and got to thinkin’.
Which brings me onto the secret ingredient; nutritional yeast. Aside from it’s lustful title… nutritional yeast is a great ingredient for vegans as it provides us with a boost of vitamin B12 which is what vegans and even some vegetarians have a deficiency in. But the best part? It has a cheesy flavour. Yes, when added to recipes it provides that cheese flavouring which vegans miss out on. So I decided to add it to the socca base.
I found the base to be pretty bland without added flavouring, so what a good reason to add the cheesy flavour to the base rather than the topping, and oh boy it worked! And it worked goooood.
So please, please take my word for it. This pizza is so delicious; and my love for the circular food has been relit; which would make 1993 Take That pretty damn proud.
Here’s the formula:
CHIA SOCCA INSPIRED PIZZA
FOR THE CHIA SOCCA BASE
- 50g of chickpea (gram) flour
- 75ml water
- large pinch of ground coriander
- half a teaspoon of paprika
- one teaspoon of oregano
- one heaped teaspoon of nutritional yeast
- one heaped teaspoons of chia seeds
- Fresh rocket (arugula)
- Fresh parsley
- chopped cherry tomatoes
- chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- lemon juice ( used a quarter of a lemon)
- toasted pine nuts (I used a small handful)
- Lots of black pepper
Whisk all of the ingredients for the base in a bowl until all of the lumps have been removed, which could take some time. Leave to it for at least half an hour for the seeds to soak and the mix to thicken.
Heat a medium sized frying pan on a medium heat, lightly greased with coconut or olive oil. I even used spray coconut oil to make the dish a little lighter.
Once it’s hot, and the mix has sat for a while, spoon it into the pan and make sure it’s evenly distributed. Leave to cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping. Leave for another 2-3 minutes and then remove from the pan.
If you’re using toasted pine nuts, add the nuts to the same pan and toast until golden brown, then remove from the hot pan too.
Add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato purée to the base and spread evenly, top with your favourite toppings, slice and enjoy!
This pizza eaten alone can serve one, or two with a size salad.
I would really love to have some feedback on my recipes, so please comment!
I hope you enjoy,