Thursday, July 30, 2009

Grilled BBQ Pizza



After finding out that I'm vegan, people first call me crazy and then drop their jaws and ask, "Oh my God, how do you live without pizza?!"

My question to them is, "Who is living without?!"

I guess they probably mean the standard issue North American cheese and grease pie and I can't turn my nose up at it too much, because once upon a time I lived on deep dishes from Pizza Hut. Now the thought of one makes me want to puke my crazy vegan brains out.

Okay, I'm being a bit ridiculous. I have to admit that at least half the people I come across are inquisitive and intrigued more than they are defensive. I've just happened to have several run-ins with the other kind over the last couple days. Truth be told, however, the majority of people may crack jokes but I genuinely believe they are not trying to be snarky. Although they usually do follow it up with a, "That's really great but I could never live without _____________"

I used to always start sentences that way. "Omg I could NEVER live without my digital camera"...."I could NEVER live without air conditioning"..."I could NEVER live without cheese". When you stop and repeat these sentences to yourself a couple times it finally registers how ridiculous they are. I refuse to believe we are that dependent and that controlled by things. We are not as addicted to things as we seem to think we are, and we really sell ourselves short as a species...aside from a handful of necessities (I'm talking water and air), we really can live without the majority of things we've become dependent on. In fact, we thrive without a lot of them.

So, these days I make a conscious effort to own my words a bit more. I try not to say "I can't eat _______", and instead say "I choose not to eat ________". I'm a sociologist, I like agency...humans are active beings with the capacity to reflect and evaluate and make choices. I like sentences that own that agency. So yes, it's not that I can't eat cheese pizza...it's that I choose not to eat cheese pizza. And look at that, I'm still alive and kicking...and much more feverishly than I was when I had all that cheese weighing me down.

This is a vegan pizza that uses no soy product and no fake cheese.

The other night I was making a ton of homemade Memphis bbq sauce to marinade and freeze tofu in, for "oh my god there is nothing to EAT in this house" nights. I remembered my pre-vegan love of Domino's bbq pizzas, where barbeque sauce is used instead of tomato sauce, and the veggies have char marks all over them. I decided to create a vegan version.

The Domino's version obviously has some sort of meat so I could have used fake chicken strips or even tofu to make it a bit more "authentic", but I'm not into the fake stuff and we try to limit our soy intake. Instead, we grilled portobello mushrooms, which have an almost-creepy meatlike consistency when charred a little bit. We also grilled eggplant, bell pepper, onion and zucchini. We smothered everything in bbq sauce and threw it on a homemade whole grain pizza crust and then into the oven for about 20 minutes.

It turned out really, really well. The only change I would make is the style of bbq sauce. I was already in the throes of making memphis bbq sauce when I decided to make the pizza, so that is what ended up on the pizza, but I think a hickory style bbq sauce would suit the portobellos more.

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