If you have ever visited the vegetarian section of a bookstore, you have probably seen a whole row of cookbooks by one author, Robin Robertson. For years, I have marveled at how she seems to produce yet another book, full of useful and tasty veg recipes, with such regularity. She is up to 19 books now, and also writes a column for VegNews, teaches, and travels to spread the word about vegan food. She is a busy lady.
So it was with great excitement that I thumbed through her latest.
Fresh From the Vegan Slow Cooker (Harvard Common Press $16.95) is going to make life easier for vegans, especially those who have not discovered this valuable cooking tool, the crockpot. If you have an electrical outlet, you can cook just about anything in the slow cooker, saving power, and time. This book covers all the great soups and stews and casseroles that you would expect, with a global flair. But Robertson also riffs on old school crockpot dishes like cocktail wieners in sauce (with bean balls) and make spiced nut mixes, and even shows how easily you can turn the cooker into an oven and make cakes, puddings, frittatas, bars, and more. She even makes sauces and hot drinks.
So, I was intrigued to see a recipe for pizza in a slow cooker. I’d never made a pizza that way, but it made sense. A side benefit was that it was a really hot day, and and the slow cooker actually made a great pizza without heating up the kitchen. It was much more hands off, since I put the pizza in the slow cooker and left it to cook for an hour and forty five minutes. No pizza peel, not sweating over a hot oven, no burning my forearms as I slid the dough round onto the hot stone.
So, for the recipe, I made the simple food processor dough, although I just had to use half white whole wheat flour, because that’s how I roll. It worked just fine. Then I stirred up the simple, chunky sauce of tomato, olives, capers, chiles and seasonings. All quick and easy.
The technique for pizza in a slow cooker is simple, I just patted the dough into the cooker, topped with the zingy sauce, and put a kitchen towel over the whole thing, so that moisture would not drip back onto the pizza from the lid.
It looked like this:
The finished pizza was great, I was impressed that it had a crisp bottom, a chewy crust, and the elements in the sauce had really melded in the long cooking time. It was an oval shape, which made a lovely pizza. I definitely recommend the recipe, especially for people who don’t have an oven, or who don’t want to heat up the whole house. I can see dorm and apartment dwellers feasting on homemade, organic vegan pizzas with ease, thanks to Robin Robertson.
Then, they can move on to the rest of the delicious fare in this valuable book. Kudos to Robin Robertson for another keeper!
Recipe © 2012 by Robin Robertson and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press.
This will make a thick and chewy pizza similar to a deep-dish personal pan pizza you’d get in a restaurant. It will serve 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish. Why make pizza in a slow cooker? you might ask. See page 164 for 10 great reasons provided by my blog readers when I posed the question to them. For soy-free, omit the optional cheese or use a soy-free cheese (such as Daiya).
Makes 1 pizza
Slow Cooker Size: 5- to 7-quart
Cook Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes on High
- 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons instant yeast
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup warm water, or as needed
- ½ cup crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
- ¼ cup pitted green olives, sliced
- 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup shredded vegan mozzarella cheese (optional)
1. For the dough: Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl. In a food processor, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and Italian seasoning. With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube, then slowly add as much water as needed to form a slightly sticky dough ball. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to the prepared bowl, turning the dough to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
2. While the dough is rising, make the sauce. In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, both kinds of olives, capers, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic powder, sugar, red pepper flakes, and salt and black pepper to taste.
3. Generously oil the insert of a large slow cooker or spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Punch down the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Flatten the dough, then shape it to just fit inside your slow cooker. Place the dough in the cooker and spread the sauce over the dough. To prevent condensation from dripping onto the pizza, drape a clean kitchen towel over the cooker, then put on the lid. Cook on High for 1 hour and 45 minutes. If using the vegan mozzarella, sprinkle it on the pizza after 1 hour and 15 minutes, then cook for 30 minutes longer to allow it to melt.