Last week, I made these mini-deep dish pizzas for a chicago-themed dinner party. In the chicago deep dish tradition, these little guys were stuffed with cheese and filling and topped with a layer of tomato sauce. They were a huge hit, with people trying to take more than their share, getting into epic battles over the last ones… Okay, I exaggerate, but they really were popular! And I can see why. We had stuffed them with a homemade giardiniera, which is a very popular condiment in Chicago.
These were super easy to make, though I guess a little more work than just making one large pizza, but as an added bonus, they are extremely cute! They make perfect appetizers, side dishes, or snacks. The mini pizzas were so tasty that I had to share them (that is to say, they were so good I had to make them again immediately).
For the filling, I definitely recommend making the giardiniera, because it is so easy to make, lasts for a month or so, you can control the ingredients going into it, and you can put it in your sandwiches, quesadillas, etc. until it’s all gone–at which point you will probably make more. If pickled foods aren’t your thing, or you don’t want to wait 3 days to make the pizzas, go ahead and fill these with whatever you want. I think they’d be delicious with any pizza stuffing including spinach, broccoli, onion, and tomatoes–just chop it up small!
Additionally you can really use any cheese. Mozzarella would be the traditional choice, but I happened to have some of the new daiya pepperjack cheese lying around so I tried that also and it was a great combination! I also suggest these pizzas with chèvre. I don’t know if you can buy vegan chèvre, but I know there are some recipes floating out there for it.
Mini Deep Dish Pizzas
~24 mini pizzas, depending on how thin you roll out your dough
1 1/2 – 2 cups giardinera (recipe below)
~1 1/2 cups vegan cheese
1 recipe tomato sauce (recipe below)
1 recipe pizza crust (recipe below)
Pre-heat your oven to 450 °F.
1. On a floured surface, roll out pizza dough as thin as you can manage, and cut out about 6-inch circles. Place the dough in the muffin tins. You will probably have to re-roll the dough several times to get all the circles. You may find it easier to just rip off pieces of dough, about the size of a small fist, and roll those out and cut them down to size. Because the dough expands when it bakes, I found it looks a little better after baking if the dough doesn’t go over the sides of the tin, but is easier to make if you cut the dough a little big and let it rest on the edges of the muffin tin as it has a tendency to shrink as it sits before baking.
2. Fill the dough lined muffin tins half way with the giardiniera, or whatever stuffing you are using, about 1 tbsp. Fill the other half with the vegan cheese of your choice, again about 1 tbsp. I suggest using Daiya brand mozzarella or pepperjack, but any vegan shredded cheese will work. Spoon some sauce over the toppings.
makes ~3 cups
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 head cauliflower, in small florets
6 jalapeños, thinly sliced
1/2 cup salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped green olives (i used ones marinated in garlic)
3 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp celery seeds
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Tip: You can change the vegetables you use, I’ve provided a pretty traditional combination of vegetables, but if you aren’t a fan one of them then don’t include it and add a little extra of something else.
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the bell peppers, celery, carrot, onion, jalapeños, and 1/2 cup of salt. Cover with cold water, cover and refrigerate for about 12 hours.
2. After soaking, drain and rinse the vegetables and set aside in the large mixing bowl. In a medium mixing bowl or large measuring cup, add the garlic, olives, oregano, red pepper flakes, celery seeds, and black pepper. Whisk in the cup of apple cider vinegar and olive oil.
3. Pour the dressing over the vegetable mixture, toss, cover and set in refrigerator for at least 48 hours. This will last for several weeks in the fridge.
Everybody should make their own pizza dough. It is super simple and tastes way better than store bought pizza dough! That being said, it’s okay if you want to just buy some pre-made dough from the pizza counter at your grocery store or your local pizza joint.
Deep Dish Style Pizza Dough
makes enough for ~24 mini pizzas
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cup water
1. Mix dry ingredients together. Add the water and olive oil. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add more flour if the dough is too wet and sticky–it should not stick to your hands. Let the dough rest for about a half hour on the counter.
2. Divide the dough into 2 (for the deep dish pizzas) or 3 sections (if you are going to make full sized pizzas). Spray with some oil, wrap in plastic wrap and place in a bag in the fridge, if you do not need to use it immediately. It is best to make pizza dough about 3 days before you are going to use it (when you make the giardiniera, for example!), and the dough will last about 7 days in the fridge. I’ve even gone up to 10.
3. When it comes time to make your pizza, take your dough out of the fridge as soon as you start pre-heating your oven and prepping your pizza so that it has at least 30 minutes to rest before using it.
Note: I use my bread machine on the pizza dough setting to make my dough, additionally you could also use the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer to knead. If you use either of these, after kneading on the stand mixer or after the dough cycle is complete on the bread machine continue with step 2.
Like pizza dough, homemade pizza sauce is definitely superior to the store-bought canned varieties! It is also very simple to make. Again, I promise I’ll still be nice if you buy some sauce.
16oz. can of whole canned tomatoes, ideally san marzano
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Drain the whole tomatoes, setting the juice aside for a different recipe. Place tomatoes in food processor. Add the herbs and garlic to the food processor. Process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Adjust herbs if desired. Note: can be made a few days in advance.