Mystic Vegan Pizza and Caesar Salad

Its not always easy being in an inter-diet partnership. My boyfriend eats almost exclusively meat, and is loathe to try new foods that don't have bacon in them. He's always polite, mind you, but if I offer him, say, an eggplant casserole, he turns white and just says, "oh, no thanks baby, it looks great though." So I usually end up polishing off most of my delicacies myself, or with the help of my veggie garbage disposal roommate. :) But on the rare occasion that I do want to accommodate him, I make sure to make the least scary, most friendly-looking thing I can think of, and then add in a secret ingredient or two.

So last night I made him Caesar salad with homemade croutons and from-scratch pizzas with his choice of topping. I topped mine with marinated tempeh while he topped his with pepperoni, but just the fact that he happily gobbled down the Caesar made me happy. (I used the Veganomicon recipe to give it a shot, and I have to say it is the closest I have ever tasted to real, anchovy-based Caesar. Except way, way better, of course.)

You all know how to make home-made croutons, right? They have saved many a salad of mine. Just heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil and throw in some garlic and whatever spices you have handy. (Basil, thyme, oregano, savory, parsley and sage are all good bets.) When the oil is hot and the spices are fragrant, turn off the heat and toss in some cubed, stale bread. (White bread works best, but whatever floats your boat.) Once they have been adequately coated with the oil, spread 'em out on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook to desired crunch on 425 degrees. So easy.

Homemade pizza takes a bit more effort, but its worth it. And working with dough is soothing, anyhow. (For me, anyway.)Here's the Joy of Cooking recipe for the dough, and while thats rising you can work on this easy chunky tomato sauce and marinate some tempeh.

Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce
1 28 oz can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1 tbsp EVOO
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

So simple. Just cook the garlic in the oil on medium low heat until its fragrant. Then add in the canned tomatoes, and the rest of the ingredients. Raise the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Definitely adjust the spices if needed, I am a basil FIEND.

For the Marinated Tempeh, I simply sliced up a plain package of tempeh and tossed it in an air-tight container with some soy sauce, EVOO, fennel seeds, garlic salt, and a few drops of hot sauce and liquid smoke. After a half-hour or so I sauteed the slices until just brown and set them aside to top the pizza with, along with some sliced mushrooms and onions.

The trick with vegan pizza is if the toppings are good enough the cheese is utterly unnecessary. If one were so inclined they could always find some soy cheese, but I don't much care for it on pizza. With a fire-roasted sauce and marinated tempeh, what's the point? My boyfriend even agreed when he had a few bites.

See? He is so turning. Slow and steady wins the race, kids.

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