Loaded Baked Potato Pizza with Vegan Cheese Sauce and Bacon Bits

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I get into these crazy recipe hang ups, an idea pops into my head and I then decide that I have to make it this second before my idea fizzles away.  Take the Grilled Refried Bean Sandwich for instance, or the time I tried to make Creme Brulee Pancakes (didn’t work, drat it). 

The truth is, daylight only lasts so long and sometimes a Wednesday before going to a nice dinner isn’t the best time to execute a crazy pizza recipe, but a sunny Saturday afternoon is.  Since this pizza popped into my head I knew it needed a layering of flavors to make it less bland and more “whooaa give me another piece now even though my stomach is filled to the brim with potato delight”.  Crunchy, saucy, starchy, it’s all right here.

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This pizza isn’t a really fast, easy peasy meal for a rushed weeknight, but it is perfect for a weekend meal.  Most time is devoted to prepping the various components of the meal, rather than the actual cook time, but trust me, it’s worth it.  I prepared the dough, let it rise, then prepared everything else while the pizza was baking in the oven, worked perfectly!

If you are a meat and cheese eater, replace the sauce with cheese and TVP bacon bits with real bacon, throw that business on there!  Otherwise, the vegan-ized replacements are perfectly placed on this pie.

Don’t be freaked by the “bacon bits”.  I’ll be honest, I was at first, but they are so much better than I expected.  The cheese sauce is also pretty dang good.  Don’t get me wrong, it definetly won’t fool you for it’s dairy counterpart, but it will provide that complex flavor vibe that makes cheese so suitable for pizza.

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Next recipe hang up: Dark and Stormy Donuts, if they don’t work, I now have the mixings for a classy cocktail, win and win.

Baked Potato Pizza with Vegan Cheese Sauce and Bacon Bits

 Pizza crust (adapted from Shutterbean):

  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 cups water

Cheese Sauce (adaped from Oh She Glows):

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavoured almond milk
  • 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy buttery spread
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bacon Bits (adapted from Trans-Planted):

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein)
  • salt to taste

1 cup prepared pesto of choice, homemade or store bought

2 Yukon Gold Potatoes, sliced

Additional desired toppings ( I used corn, caramelized onions and chives + a little sea salt)

1. Prepare pizza crust: In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water, and using your hands, mix together until blended.  Add more water if needed.  Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3.   Transfer dough to rimmed baking sheet and form into a rectangle.  The dough will spring back, but keep coaxing it into desired shape (mine was “rustic” looking).

4.   Once dough reaches desired shape (or not desired shape, it tastes the same, right?), spread prepared pesto evenly over pizza dough. Top with sliced potatoes and toppings of choice.

5.  While pizza is baking , prepare cheese sauce and bacon bits.

6.  Bake pizza for 30-45 minutes, checking doneness of potatoes periodically.  Remove pizza from oven when potatoes are fork tender and crust is baked to desired crisp

7.  To prepare cheese sauce: Melt Earth Balance over medium heat, whisk in flour and milk, until all clumps are gone. Whisk in nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper and whisk over medium heat until sauce reaches desired thickness.  Add flour if sauce is still too thin.  Set aside.

8.  To prepare bacon bits: Combine soy sauce, water, maple syrup, garlic powder, and paprika in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once  boiling, immediately turn off heat and stir in TVP. Keep stirring until all of the liquid is absorbed and add salt as needed.  If more crunch is desired, toast bacon bits for 5 minutes in a 200 degree oven.

9.  Remove pizza from oven, top with cheese sauce and bacon bits, cut and serve.

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