1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 (1/4 ounce) package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active-dry yeast
2 1/4 cups unbleached flour (plus more for kneading), divided
1 cup cornmeal (plus more for dusting)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces tofu (firm, not silken)
1/8 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 (16 ounce) package frozen spinach, drained and squeezed
1 (4.25 ounce) can sliced olives
1 zucchini, diced
canned artichokes, optional
yellow squash, diced; optional
vegan cheese (I use Daiya; optional)
1. For dough, in a measuring cup, place warm water. The water should be warm to the touch but not too hot. Sprinkle yeast and then sugar into the water and stir gently until ingredients dissolve- about a minute. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until a thin layer of creamy foam covers the surface, indicating the yeast is effective. If the bubbles have not formed within 5 minutes discard the mixture and start over with a new package of yeast. (We have had to start over once in each of our experiences- it's not easy to get the right temperature of the water).
2. Combine 2 cups flour, cornmeal, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in yeast mixture and oil. Using a wooden spoon, vigorously stir in flour into well, beginning in the center and working toward the sides of the bowl, until flour is incorporated and soft dough just begins to hold together. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead gently, pressing down on dough with the heels of your hands, pushing it away from you, and then partially fold it back over itself. Shift a quarter turn and repeat.
3. While kneading, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup flour until dough is no longer sticky or tacky- this should take about 5 minutes. Continue kneading until dough is smooth, elastic and shiny- about 10-15 minutes. Knead dough until it is smooth and springy. Do not over-knead, it will cause tough crust. After mixing and kneading dough, shape into a ball and place into a well oiled bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and drape a dishtowel over top. Side aside in a draft free, warm place until the dough doubles in size. 1 1/2- 2 hours.
4. Once dough has doubled in size, use your fist to punch it down to prevent over-rising. Squeeze dough into a ball, pressing out air bubbles. (If you cannot bake the dough within two hours of rising, punch it down, coat oiled bowl again, cover tightly and refrigerate. The dough will only last 36 hours before the yeast is exhausted.) Let chilled dough get to room temperature before cooking. Roll out dough until you have about a 15-16 inch pizza. Put down a good amount of cornmeal on your pizza stone and lay dough down on top. Slowly start to build the large pizza walls by pinching around the perimeter of the dough- make sure the walls are large as you will be putting in lots of ingredients! Chicago style pizza has thick crust!
5. For ricotta, place tofu, milk, garlic, lemon juice, basil, and salt in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. It should be creamy but still should have body. Add in spinach and pulse mixture together. To assemble the pizza, evenly spread "ricotta" mixture on the bottom layer of the pizza. If using vegan cheese, add a thin layer at the bottom on top of the ricotta. Add and layer toppings as desired, and red sauce on top.
Source of recipe: This is a vegan version of Chicago pizza (thick crust and the sauce on top!). Remember to use whatever toppings you like! Make the crust ahead of time!