Would You Like that Pizza All Dressed, with Pepperoni?

I heard there’s this thing calleed “Super Bowl Sunday” going on today.  Personally, I’ve never really seen the point.  I mean, seriously, what’s the big fuss?  A bunch of slightly overweight guys gripping a ball, then running and throwing it and then all that tumbling on the ground.  Gee, and all this time I thought bowling was already passé.  Silly me!

Well, pizza is one of those comestibles that suits any occasion, sporty Sunday or otherwise. . . so here’s my contribution to all those super bowlers out there. ;)

While switching to a plant-based diet from a more omnivorous one can be traumatic for some, for me, meat was never much of an issue (I explain more about my relationship with meat on myAbout page). Instead, what I missed–and still miss, dearly–is my first love, milk chocolate.  Why does something sadly so devoid of nutritional value have to taste so darned good? I also miss whipped cream (so I made my own version), soft-serve ice cream (hard to find a suitable substitute here) and the occasional marshmallow (though come to think of it, all of those others have more to do with sugar content than dairy or eggs).

But meat? Naw.

One exception, though, is pepperoni on pizza.  Why the yearning for the greasy, paper-thin, spicy rounds of flesh and nitrates? I can’t be sure, but I think it may have something to do with Sundays during my childhood.

When I was a kid, my dad worked 6 days a week in his butcher shop, leaving our house before we children even emerged, creases still on our faces and with bed-head coiffures, for breakfast; he returned long after our dinner had left the table.  But on Sundays, presumably, he rested.  And what did he do instead every sabbath? He packed up the wife and kids into the family station wagon and drove back to that selfsame butcher shop so  my mom could do her weekly “grocery” shopping from the store!  (Sure, she had to go to the regular supermarket for other staples like lettuce, canned soup, canned tuna, etc., but meats, eggs, dairy and a dizzying array of imported crackers and cookies could be got at Dad’s shop). 

We’d pile into the car-cum-delivery truck, make the trek across the city through scenic TMR over to Jean Talon Boulevard and into the vacant store.  It was then the negotiations began. 

“I want a Fruitella!” the CFO would cry; I’d chime in, “No! how about some SweeTarts?”  The Nurse (if she graced us with her teenaged presence at all) would reach for the box of boozy European filled chocolates on the countertop. 

“Just one each,” our father would admonish, but if we were really lucky (or sneaky), we’d each make off with another prize as well, my favorite: the Icy Square.  Then we’d savor our sweets as my mother browsed the glass counters and chose her food for the week.

Behind the butcher block, suspended like offerings from the hand of some robotic deity, were huge salamis hanging on thick steel hooks. They dried in the open air, exuding droplets of fat as if sweating from the exertion of their acrobatic feat of hanging upside down. There were the thinner pepperoni sticks as well, and one in particular that my dad called “karnatzl”  (you can see what they look like here–scroll about halfway down the page). I never knew it at the time, but karnatzl is a Romanian word for the garlicky sausage–basially, thin pepperoni.  And they were my very favorite Sunday snack.

My father would snap off a length of the solid, dehydrated sausage for us to gnaw on as we roamed about the store while my mother completed her “shopping.”  The CFO and I would relish the crunchy, spicy meat that oozed with bits of gooey tallow in each bite.  The concept of biting into animal fat now makes me shudder both physically and emotionally, but back then I was a carefree eight year-old happy to munch on a stick of beef parts.

My love of pepperoni endured until my first year or so with the HH, when we enjoyed All-Dressed Pizza Night on a regular basis.  (I learned quickly when I moved to Toronto from Montreal that pizza is yet another way the two cities differ; in Toronto, you order by ingredient:  “Gimme a medium thin-crust with double cheese, mushrooms, peppers and tomato”; in Montreal, in contrast, pizza is distinguished by title:  “I’ll take a small Pepperoni” or “I’ll have a medium All-Dressed.”).  When I was growing up, all-dressed pizza meant sauce, cheese, green pepper, mushrooms–and lots of pepperoni.

I decided I wanted a pepperoni pizza.  No small feat, considering I don’t eat meat.  Or gluten.  Or cheese.

During my recent love affair with beets, I had a revelation: don’t those beet slices look sorta like slices of salami?  Hmm. . . I just had to try it.

The result is this faux pepperoni, perfect on pizza or anywhere else you’d use a spicy, smoky slice of meat (I had the leftovers in a sandwich with tomato, lettuce and onion–superb!).  The flavor is lovely, with only a hint of sweetness surviving the smoky, spicy marinade and baking time.  The key here is to slice the pieces thinly enough to bake up soft and then slightly crispy on the edges (as you’ll see from my photo, this batch is a little thick.  Must. Get. Mandoline.)  Too thick, and they still have the subtle earthy flavor of, well, beets.

I will warn you, to create the entire pizza from scratch takes time.  Next time, I’ll prep the cheese and pepperoni a day in advance, then cook up the crust and top it when I want to eat it for dinner.  But if you’re craving an All Dressed Pepperoni Pizza, this makes a great stand-in, without any wheat, heavy processing, sugar, fillers, or isolated soy protein. 

Now, isn’t that better than meat?

I’m entering this post in Food Renegade’s  Fight Back Fridays, dedicated to real food recipes, since everything in this pizza is true food!

And speaking of televised events.  .  .  for those of you in the Toronto area, I’ll be appearing on Rogers TV daytime show on Thursday, February 11th live at 10:00 AM (repeat at 5:00 PM) on cable channels 10 and 63 to discuss healthy chocolate Valentine’s Day treats.  Tune in and let me know what you think!

Last Year at this Time: Flash in the Pan: Grown-Up Fig and Walnut Baked Apples

Two Years Ago: If Vodka is an Elsie, then Beer is a Chaser

© 2010 Diet, Dessert and Dogs

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Comments

  1. Wow, that actually looks pretty! Like, pretty pink pepperoni! ;) I’m not into football, either, since my parents had no knowledge/interest in it when I was growing up. I always feel a bit left out the day after, when everyone is talking about the commercials. lol.

  2. How resourceful and creative of you, Ricki! Very cool! I’m not interested in either of the teams, and I have a paper due next week, so odds are, I won’t be watching. Now, if it were the Jets or the Giants…

  3. Ohhhh my goodnesss… this is getting made as soon as those ingredients wind up in my kitchen again. It’s so clever and off-beat and nutritious and… geez louise, I’m drooling.

  4. Ricki, I just can’t believe you found a way to make pepperoni from beets! This is so crazy I may have to try it – a little like spinning thread into gold, but a brilliant idea. It looks like pepperoni, too. My father used to bring home those dried out salami things and I, too, gnawed them as a child. Eewww.

  5. I’m a little timid about bean flours due to some digestion stuff. Do the bean flours create a texture in the crust that perhaps sorghum or millet flours would not create? I can’t have yeast either, and would like to try this crust. I miss pizza!

  6. Very creative! I particularly like the beets. What a great idea. I may need to make a little beet pizza myself now.

    Alicia

  7. Beet salami is BRILLIANT. It does totally look like it, and I can imagine how well the spice would meld with the inherently sweet root vegetables. I’m dying to try this!

  8. What an awesome idea. I finally broke down and bought some beets for the first time ever today.

  9. Wow, this looks so nice and colorful. I’ve never really liked pepperoni, even though I eat meat, so this sounds like a way better plan.

    Something that crossed my mind for those who can’t have liquid smoke: I made Musakhan the other night, an Arabic chicken recipe that involves using sumac. My boyfriend and I were both surprised at how smoky and, well, barbeque-y, the sumac tasted after being baked. Perhaps one could try using sumac in the beeteroni recipe as a sub for liquid smoke.

  10. Oh, and that cheese recipe sounds good, but my mom makes one similar to that (she’s a vegan), and her cashew-based gravies and sauces really upset my stomach. I wonder if another nut could be used (Brazil nuts maybe?).

  11. Ha! When I saw the photo at the top of your post I immediately thought–”the ‘pepperoni’ looks like beets! But no…it can’t be…can it?!?” Leave it to Ricki :-) It sounds fabulous, and I adore roasted beets, so I am game!

    Courtney

  12. Haha this pizza is so pretty and revolutionary!

  13. what a stellar idea, Ricki – this rocks! i do miss me some pepperoni, and actually, salami too. ah ha ha! i love your idea to use beets, and the cheezy sauce sounds sooooo goooooood! we tried the vegnews mac ‘n cheeze recipe a while ago and loved it – i think your version sounds even better. mmmmmmm! oh, and i still need to make your free-form tart. i can’t believe i forgot about it. your dad was too awesome to take your mom back to the butcher shop he worked so hard at on his only day off. that story made me smile. thanks!

  14. “A stick of beef parts” LOL! Nicely put! :-P

    Holy beets, Batman! I am definitely trying the beetperoni next time we have pizza! I love your creativity with food, you live SO outside of the box. You live so outside of the box that there is no box anymore! :-)

  15. candice,
    Yes, it seems as if the commercials are more important than the game itself! ;)

    Deb,
    Thanks so much! Seeing as I don’t know either of those teams, I guess I can’t comment on them ;)

    Micco,
    Glad it appeals. I loved the additional nutrition and fiber from the beets, too!

    Andrea,
    I’m just a crazy kinda gal, I guess! Are you sure my father and your father aren’t related? ;)

    Metta,
    I bet you could sub millet or sorghum, though I’m guessing the crust would be just a bit more tender and cake-like. You could perhaps add a little more flax seeds if you do use other flours. Let me know how it works out if you give it a try! :)

    Vegan Epicurean,
    Beets really are a very versatile veggie! (say that quickly five times!).

    Hannah,
    You’re right, the sweetness goes really well, sort of like how maple syrup goes with bacon, I guess. ;)

    Heather,
    Congrats! I hope you love them as much as I do. Raw beet salad is another awesome way to use them!

    Leah,
    Sumac sounds like an amazing idea. And I love it–”beetaroni”! Ha ha! :D And as to the cashews, I bet Brazil nuts would work, though I suspect the flavor would change a bit.

    Courtney,
    Well, if it looks like a beet. . .yep! Actually, my first attempt (which I didn’t photograph) had much thinner slices, which looked more like pepperoni than beets. . .but I got lazier as I made it over and over ;) Hope you like ‘em!

    Veggie Wedgie,
    Well, I’ve never been a revolutionary before, so I’m kinda tickled! ;)

    jessy,
    I thought their cheese sauce was good, too, but too thin for this purpose, so I changed it up a bit (and I always like my food more intensely flavored than a lot of the recipes I read). I’m not entirely sure my dad was so awesome to go back to the store. . . after all, my mom never paid for anything, so it was a great way to save on groceries ;)

    River,
    You are a riot! But if there is no box, won’t my hair get wet in the rain? ;) I think it’s more like, “desperation”–necessity being the mother of invention, and all that!

  16. That’s a really creative take on the all dressed pizza! The beet pepperoni is a great idea! Your cheese sauce sounds very interesting, too. I *love* nutrional yeast-based sauces, but I’ve got to try this one, if only for the sake of variety…

  17. The creativity level on this one is through the roof! I would not turn down a slice of this pie.

    Do nab yourself a mandolin slicer, you’ll love it!

  18. Oh Ricki, what a far far way you’ve come!

    This recipe is so clever! You’re a chef AND an artist to have thought of this.

    I spent most of my childhood (ok, an exaggeration) picking OFF pieces of pepperoni on my pizza at birthday parties and school functions, being the only vegetarian in my class. But still, I love beets. And I’m intrigued.

    I’m going to miss your tv appearance again! I’m flying out to Miami for vacation thursday morning…(I was about to put a sad face at the end of that sentence and then I realized what a ridiculous pairing that would make) Let us know if we can see a clip anywhere else!

    And ps. I am SO with you on the Superbowl thing. I spent my sunday doing yoga and making soup. So there, Superbo(ring)wl.

  19. Your pizza is awesome!! I’d definitely prefer yours over the regular any day!

  20. These beet pepperonis have me seriously excited! I cannot wait to try this!

  21. What an ingenious idea!

  22. Looks delicious!

    Ha ha ha! I kill myself.

    I followed your comment from Dianne’s blog – see, it works – because anyone who namechecks me while having my back is someone I need to take a good look at. Off to poke around a bit.

    btw, you on twitter?

  23. I would have never never never believed those were beets from the picture!! You are far too creative and amazing to be true, Ricki, and I’m going to have to whip up a pizza super soon.

  24. Josiane,
    I love the noochie cheeses, too, but sadly can’t have nutritional yeast on the ACD. But one day!

    Ordinary Vegetarian,
    Thanks! I’ve wanted a mandoline for ages, but somehow just never get around to buying one. Will have to make a point of it if I want to keep eating my beeteroni pizzas. ;)

    Alex,
    Miami is DEFINITELY not a sadface event! My dad tells me the weather is warming up now, so you should have a great time. :) And glad you like the non-pepperoni pizza :)

    Healthy Ashley,
    Glad to hear it! And this one, of course, is actually good for you.

    Outoftheoven,
    Thanks so much! :) Can’t wait to hear what you think of them. :)

    Vegyogini,
    Thanks (I was desperate!).

    KitchenMage,
    Thanks for the laugh ;) I wasn’t commenting so that people would follow me here (though of course that’s a lovely side effect), but because the issue really did stir a response in me. Yes, on twitter, at @rickiheller!

    Jes,
    Well, I thought they looked exactly like pepperoni slices (it’s been a while since I’ve seen the real ones), but now realize that they are thicker and pinker–but hey, who cares? ;)

  25. I really could care less about the Superbowl myself, but I’m definitely into it as an extra excuse to go all-out with vegan treats! I love your unique take on pepperoni… I’ve never been a big fan of beets, but I might just have to try this out!

  26. oh my god, you are brilliant. beetaroni, beetaroni, yes! ! i need to try this – i don’t know how i missed your recipe for that amazing looking pizza crust. i am so making this when my family comes to town in a couple weeks.

  27. wow what a great idea – I never was one for salami or pepperoni when I was little – though we loved german sausage and kabana – processed meats that now make me shudder when I think what is in them – but I do love the look of these beeteroni – you really need to get a savoury cookbook together with wonderful ideas like this

  28. Crispy grilled beets on a pizza? Yes, please! That sounds so wonderful.

  29. Okay… this recipe deserves one word and one word only… BRILLIANT!

  30. I am so with you on the football game! My husband and I did not even know about the superbowl until Friday when someone asked my husband who he was rooting for! Oh well, to each his own. Ok, now the pepperoni is brilliant! I can’t wait to try this! The spiciness of the pepperoni is what I like…not the greasiness! We are on a pizza craze here so I am totally trying this soon! Thank you for sharing your creativity! It is amazing what we will use in our food when we can’t have certain foods!

  31. how creative, love it! and funny to think of you nawing on animal fats ;-)

  32. Why can’t Phase I-ers eat this?!

  33. Your creativity in the kitchen is so amazing! Love this pizza creation. About the soft serve ice cream, have you seen people blogging about the frozen banana ice cream? I think you just freeze a banana, then blend it. Supposed to be amazing.

  34. Oh wait I’m not sure if you’re eating bananas…

  35. tulle,

    The liquid smoke probably isn’t allowed (nothing smoked) and the cashews are technically not allowed in Phase I (though some diets do allow them–my naturopath says they’re fine in any phase). If you don’t want to use cashews, you can substitute macadamia nuts (which are allowed in any phase).

  36. I have a pretty good relationship with beets so I think I could probably stomach those on top of a pizza. I’m not sure why we have to fake something to look like pepperoni though.. Just go without?
    -Sylvia

  37. Pepperoni! OMG! Yay! I made these over the weekend and I LOVE them! Thank you, not only for bringing me the zesty flavors of pepperoni but for also giving me a tasty way to eat beets. I’m not a fan of beets and I love the flavors of pepperoni. YUM!

  38. Wowzers, I need to make that beeterroni!! Love it!

  39. I am so happy to see this! We are actually trying to eat more meat, but for sure NOT nitrates! But the natural pepperoni here is about $16 per pound….now that’s just a bit too much. I would love to find out a way to make pepperoni flavored topping out of meat. We are dairy free too, however, so I will try the topping w/ macadamias as cashews, from what I understand, have a coating on them that isn’t healthy. The info on the net is hard to sort out….it would take awhile and some hunting to make sense of it.

  40. Hi Ricki, I just gave these beet pepperoni babes a whirl. I absolutely HATE beets, but the fact that I love and my carnivore hubby likes your cauliflower meat crumbles, I wanted to trust you on these. My DH looked at me the other day when I came home with beets… “And don’t even tell me what you’re going to make with THOSE…” Uh huh, pepperoni. And then I immediately followed with it’s from Ricki, you know, the one who had the meat crumble recipe. He still wasn’t convinced, but that’s ok. He’s a work this weekend, so he won’t get to check ‘em out. I’m not making a pizza right now and just wanted to try making these. So, my question is – how well do these freeze? Or do they? I’m not ready to use any of them and was hoping I could freeze in a couple of batches.

    • Hi Debbie,
      Thanks so much! :D I’ve never frozen them (they get eaten pretty quickly), so honestly, I couldn’t say! If you do try, I’d lay them out on a cookie sheet in a single layer, then freeze in container or bag. To re-use, just re-heat. Let me know how it goes (and if hubby is on board–ha ha!!) :D

  41. Hi Ricki, thank you for such a quick response. I was going to make a second batch as I didn’t want to toss the other beet slices I had out. My done ones are still real flopsy and “wet” (not dripping). SOME of them were curling by the time I had most liquid gone. I also had bigger beets and some of my slices were 2-3 inch wide, so I cut some of them in quarters. Do they crisp and dry up once cooked on pizza? And if you want to use on a sandwich, etc all crispy, just put them in oven for few minutes? I absolutely LOVE your blog and the ways you help us previous meat eatin’ vegans have some fun.

    • Hi Debbie,
      It sounds like yours may be a little thicker than mine were and might need just a bit more baking before they’re ready. I prefer mine on the crispier side because then they don’t retain any of the “beet” flavor. They do crisp up even more on the pizza, though. And for a sandwich, yes, you can just reheat in the oven a bit (maybe 5-10 minutes, just until warmed through). Thanks so much for the kind words about the blog, too–and so glad to hear that the recipes are helpful to meat-lovers! :) Please do let me know how they turn out!

  42. Wow! This was so good! I was really hesitant to try it because I’ve never cooked with beets before, but it was amazing! Will definitely be making this every time I make pizza!

  43. Hi Ricki,
    I am a long time reader but first time commenter! I finally got around to making the beetaroni today and I must say that I have absolutely fallen in love! I cannot even remember what real pepperoni tastes like after nearly 13 years, but this stuff is fantastic! It will definitely be a regular in my household! I used a mandoline, but I think mine were too thick – they took well over an hour to crisp up! I will try to do them thinner next time, though they were worth the wait! Thank you for creating a new and tasty pizza topping and a great way to use more beets!

    • Sara, thanks so much for making my day! I’m thrilled that you like it. An hour does seem a bit long–hard to believe I was able to cut it thinner than a mandoline with my little knife! And always a good thing to use more beets, right? :)

  44. Just made this for dinner. I made your crust and the pepperoni. So good! My husband could not believe it was not real pepperoni! Another wonderful recipe!

  45. YUM! My omni husband ordered a pepperoni pizza the other day, and although I am very much vegan, the thought of the spiciness that pepperoni brings to a pizza really gave me flashbacks to stuffing my face with pepperoni as a kid! I’m loving this beet version though – I cannot wait to make it and impress him immensely with the deliciousness of it all :D I got him a panini press/wafflemaker/snackwich maker combo for his birthday so I think I’ll make a batch of these, some vegan cheese, and then have a birthday beet-roni panini for breakfast that day (so excited/hungry now!).

  46. Wow! So creative!

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