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Sunday, November 2, 2014

Vegan Alfredo Pizza with Caramelized Onion, Garlic, and Fennel

Because my timing sucks...

In my continued quest to get rich quick by entering and [in theory] winning online recipe contests, I came across a homemade pizza contest with a whopping reward.  The grand prize?  $10,000.  Wow.  I could get so many tattoos pay off so many bills with that kind of money!  So I set off daydreaming about the fanciest pizza I could imagine.  I figured making a rich, cheese-less pizza would be appealing and out-of-the-box enough to get the judges' attention.  I decided to use a modified version of my alfredo recipe from forever ago, and a slightly altered version of a pizza dough recipe that I've had for years.  However, actually executing this recipe proved more complicated than I had anticipated.

There simply isn't enough space in the kitchen at my house, so I set off for another sister's kitchen.  Unfortunately, she had neither whole wheat flour (which I had intended to use for the crust) nor a pizza stone (which I always, always use when making pizza).  Nonetheless, we moved forward, using all-purpose flour for the crust and rolling it out onto a rectangle cookie sheet.  The result?  Delicious, but not exactly what I had in mind.  I just kept thinking that I needed a round pizza, the pics I took turned out really yellow, and the crust was too fluffy.  I needed to try this again.

So, a few days later, I arrived at my parent's house to make a disaster of do some recipe testing in their kitchen.  I brought my whole wheat flour and a pizza stone, hoping that everything would come together flawlessly.  The result?  I didn't actually like the whole wheat crust very well.  The sauce and the veggies were perfect, but the crust still wasn't right.

Alas, I was running out of time to submit the recipe, for which the deadline was the following day.  I thought it over that night and the next morning and decided that when I submitted the recipe, I would recommend using 1 cup each whole wheat and all-purpose flour.  However, when I got home from work and clicked on the contest site, I was saddened to discover that I needed to have submitted my recipe by noon.  It was now 5:30 pm.  [Feel free to use your imagination to describe the expletives that directly followed.]  So, the moral of the story is, procrastination costs thousands of dollars.  But at least I got an exquisite pizza recipe out of the whole ordeal.  So there's that.

For the dough:
2 cups flour (I'll leave this up to you: all whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, or one cup of each)
1 package fast-rising yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground fennel
1 cup hot water
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

For the sauce:
1 head roasted garlic*
3 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1 cup soy milk
12 oz firm silken tofu
1 Tbsp white cooking wine
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp cornstarch

For the toppings:
1 1/2 Tbsp non-dairy butter
1 medium onion, sliced (about 1 cup)
8 large cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped (about 2 cups), some of the fun, green sprigs reserved for decoration

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, yeast, salt, and fennel.  Stir well.  Stir in water, oil, and agave until all ingredients are well combined.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 15 min.
In a high powered blender or food processor, combine all sauce ingredients.  Blend until smooth.
In a large saute pan, heat butter over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for 8-10 min, until onions are soft and starting to brown.  Add garlic and fennel and continue to cook over medium, stirring occasionally, for 20 min, until all veggies are soft.
Press pizza dough out on a round pizza stone or sheet.  Spread with 3/4 the sauce (it's gonna look really saucy, but just trust me) and top with cooked veggies.  Bake for 15-20 min, until pizza crust is golden brown.
While pizza is cooking, heat the remaining sauce in a small saucepan until thickened.  Serve on the side for dipping or additional drizzling.  Top with reserved fennel sprigs for a little extra flare.

*To roast garlic: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Peel as much of the papery skin off the bulb as you can while keeping the bulb intact.    Slice off the tops of the bulbs so the cloves are just exposed.  Place garlic bulbs on a sheet of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap the bulbs in the foil and bake 45 minutes.

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