I did most of the cooking for this review back in May but I’ve been sitting on it ever since. It’s hard to work out how I feel about this book. I think that if you want a book to tell you how to make vegan pizza you should buy this book. If you already know how to make vegan cheeses (from Miyoko Schneider’s books for example), or how to impart meaty flavours into beetroot and carrots (Terry Hope Romero’s Salad books), or have a go-to base recipe (Isa’s Pizza from Vegan With A Vengeance) then you don’t need this book. You might want it because it has all the pizza tips in one place but there is nothing earth-shattering. Nothing terribly new. It doesn’t even make a great cookbook for fans of the Purezza Restaurants (which we are) because it won’t teach you how to make the exact cheeses they use, the exact base they use, the salami, or even the dough balls. On that front it’s massively disappointing, but (and this might be the biggest ‘but’ I’ve ever made) you can get pretty good pizza from it.
The book is set out with all your basics in the front – dough, sauce, cheese, toppings – and ways of combining them towards the back. This means that you can make basically any pizza you want or sub in store-boughts or old standbys for some of the ingredients. For my first pizza I wanted to test out the base so I kept it simple with marinara and Violife. The dough I choose to make was the sourdough variation of the Whole Meal Dough (there are commercial yeast and GF variations), though at a 1:9 ratio of wholemeal to plain flour I don’t know that I’d actually call it wholemeal. I would call it delicious. It’s got a nice light flavour and puffs up perfectly.
Keeping with the dough and tomato theme I decided to make these delicious little Montanara Pizzas. The dough is deep fried and then they are topped with the marinara and a little bit of Grated Nut Parmesan. The nut parmesan is much like any other nut-based parmesan which I’ve been eating for at least a decade. The pizza is like any other deep fried food but that makes it delicious so no complaints there.
It was time to get a bit more ambitious with the toppings. We had the Roasted Potato and Smoked Carrot Pancetta Pizza. The carrot cubes are cooked in a baconish marinade and then crisped along the edges. It’s rich, smoky and just the right amount of sweet. You’ll also notice a different cheese.
I used the cashew mozzarella (also on all of the following pizzas) which they admit is not the ‘more complex recipe for producing our unique mozzarella, which is completely allergen-free’, which I imagine will be a disappointment to nut allergy sufferers who have enjoyed the restaurant. And to be honest it disappointed me too, being a fairly standard cashew cheese. It says it is unique in that you don’t need to soak the nuts and therefore can make it the same day you want to eat it. While all things are possible with a Vitamix I would 100% recommend soaking the cashews overnight anyway. It’s just easier to get an even blend. I don’t want to be too down about it because it is a good, solid cashew mozzarella – I make it all the time – but if you put Purezza on the front of the book I expect recipes they serve at Purezza.
Taking a slight detour into a different sauce we tried the Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto and Courgette Pizza (I’m looking at the recipe now and either I forgot the garnishes or I just forgot to photograph them; both options sound like something I’d do). This pizza brought two revelations. The first was that if I sliced it thin enough, Kate would eat courgette placed on a pizza. The second was that sauce. The sun-dried tomato pesto is everything and we loved it so much. We ate the leftovers the next day with breadsticks from Epic Vegan and it was basically one of the best lunches we’ve ever had.
And finally we come to the pizza that keeps me coming back to this book. The classic combo of spinach and ricotta is done really well here. It’s light and bright, pairing perfectly with this style of base. And while I could find the recipes for the individual parts in any one of the hundreds of cookbooks I already own, sometimes I’m just lazy enough to want it all in one book.
If you’re new to vegan cooking, or vegan pizza cooking then this book is going give you the basics, and wont let you down. If you already have a vegan pizza method then its usefulness depends on how lazy you are. And if you were looking for that nut free cheese, that perfect salami, or those dough balls, then I’m afraid you’re out of luck.