Today, it’s all about the Za! As the weather starts to get colder and we begin to move swiftly towards the holiday season, I’m been craving all kinds of vegetarianized comfort food to warm myself up: Several versions of chili which never get old, or cheesy casseroles leaned out by quinoa and roasted vegetables; and pizza, of course, which is the king of comfort food.
I thought I’d bring back the flavours of my short-lived meat eating days to reinvent the only meat I ever really liked: Buffalo chicken wings, and by that I actually mean the buffalo wing sauce. I don’t think I need to summarize that awful section on chicken slaughter and the stomach-churning details of all the wonderful health hazards involved in getting it prepared for the supermarket in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals. You can still never convince me that it doesn’t taste like a wet rag, that’s just my opinion. I don’t judge anyone for their dietary choices; I am not a PETA-Nazi. The beauty of vegetarianism is that there are a plethora of alternatives out there to enjoy the nostalgic flavours of buffalo-style pizza, dips or “wings.”
I’d like to re-introduce the chickpea, otherwise known as the garbanzo bean, the versatile legume which originated in the Middle East. It’s high in protein, fiber and possesses an chameleonic ability to adapt to any delicious flavour you wish. I typically use the faux-meat products Gardein or cauliflower to make my buffalo chicken dip or breaded and fried cauliflower “wings,” but chickpeas offer a healthier, non-processed alternative to allow you to indulge sensibly.
Pizza party team: Mozzarella, hot sauce, Green bell pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, Danish blue and cilantro.
Let’s get started! Get your crust ready. Although I admit I didn’t make mine; I bought a 2 pack of whole wheat crusts from the store in order to avoid to disappointment. Pastry still isn’t my strength. I will be tackling Tarte au sucre (French Canadian sugar pie) this Christmas so stay tuned for that.
The empty canvas.
For the buffalo wing sauce, mix half a bottle of hot sauce, 1/4 cup pizza sauce, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Spread a layer of the sauce on the crust, smoothing it out evenly towards the edges. Add the chickpeas to the sauce to allow them to marinate. Quick tip: Soak the chick peas overnight, then cook a few hours before making the pizza. Soaking them overnight reduces their cooking time to 30 minutes. If you’re using canned, you can skip this whole tip. Although I highly recommend using dried chickpeas; they’re cheaper and better for you.
Saute the bell pepper, onion, and garlic until softened. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
To prepare the ranch dressing, stir a cup of milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Stir and let it sit for 10 minutes to allow it to curdle. I never buy buttermilk and when I happen to have it on hand for a recipe, a majority of it goes to waste. This is the perfect alternative. Once the milk is ready, add 3/4 cup sour cream, a tablespoon of mayonnaise, dill, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a splash of apple cider vinegar. If you like thicker ranch, add more sour cream. Whisk until smooth and set aside. Once you start making ranch dressing from scratch, there’s no going back. What Hidden Valley?
Spread a layer of the dressing on the pizza evenly, and set aside the rest to use as an optional garnish with chopped celery.
Spread the chickpeas on the pizza, adding the crumbled blue cheese and shredded mozzarella.
Add the peppers and onions on top. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
Once it’s out of the oven, add the chopped cilantro. Brace yourselves for the adventure you’re about to take, this is one intense and fiery pizza. Keep a pitcher of water at the table, you’re definitely going to need it. Enjoy at your own risk.
- 1 Whole wheat pizza crust
- 1 cup dried Chickpeas, soaked, drained and cooked
- 1/2 bottle Hot sauce
- 1/2 can Pizza sauce
- 1/2 cup Crumbled Danish blue cheese
- 1/2 cup Shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 cup Homemade Ranch dressing, recipe below
- 1 Bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp chopping cilantro
- 2 stalks celery, chopped into sticks for garnish-Optional
- Sliced cucumbers or carrots-Optional
- 1 Cup unsweetened plain Almond milk
- 1 tbsp Lemon juice
- 3/4 cup Sour cream
- 1 tbsp Mayonnaise
- 1/8 tsp Organic Apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp Dill
- 1/8 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
That’s it for today. I’ve been brainstorming for ideas as to what to write in my other blog-Life’s characters, where I make critical and analytical observations of society and reflect on things that get me thinking. If you have any ideas, let me know!