A while ago, I was listening to a radio show in which a couple of accomplished chefs were being interviewed about what they like to cook for the holidays. The conversation turned to vegetables, and one of the chefs essentially remarked, "It's hard to eat fresh, local vegetables because they don't grow in the winter, so I just eat a lot of citrus fruit."
I was pretty taken aback by the fact that someone who worked so intimately with food would utter such nonsense, so I hope to dispel this myth on my blog. First off, let's all acquaint ourselves with this handy list of cold weather vegetables. As you can see, there are quite a few, and if you live in the continental U.S., chances are they are being grown somewhere in your state as we speak. Although there are some weirdos on the list like chicory and sunchokes, most of them are pretty normal and common, so you'll be able to find them easily at your grocery store.
Basically, fresh, local veggies are by no means difficult to find in the winter unless you live in a place where it's difficult to find fresh, local veggies at all.
Are we clear on that? Good!
Now, let's work on a recipe that uses one of my favorite cold weather veggies: broccoli. I wasn't a very big fan of broccoli until I learned that there is a better way to cook it than boiling and eating it plain. Broccoli makes a fine component to many dishes because it does a great job at adding texture and earthiness. To prove it to you, I've created a Broccoli Lover's Pizza.
To start, you'll need a couple crusts. You can make them yourself or get prepared ones (be sure to check for non-vegan ingredients).
Next, you're going to make a tofu ricotta.
It calls for cashews, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and tofu all blended up in a food processor. This concoction is well loved among the non-vegans I cook for.
There are a few more ingredients to be prepared. Sun-dried tomatoes get hydrated in boiling water and chopped, broccoli is steamed and seasoned, and minced garlic is lightly fried in olive oil. The garlic oil will serve as the sauce for this pizza.
You'll also want to slice up an onion and some mushrooms and get some Daiya ready.
You can tell a pizza is gonna be pretty awesome when the toppings look good enough to eat on their own.
Pile everything on top of your crust, then stick that bad boy in a super hot oven.
Now, take a bite out of that and tell me broccoli isn't perfect on a pizza!
Broccoli Lover’s Pizza
Makes two 13” pizzas
2 (13") pizza crusts, either prepared or homemade (see tip)
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, quartered
1/2 lb extra firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
20 dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Daiya mozzarella style shreds
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- Prepare the ricotta. Blend the cashews, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a food processor until it forms a thick, smooth paste. Blend in the tofu until well incorporated. Blend in the basil and salt.
- Prepare the toppings. Preheat oven to 475 degrees fahrenheit. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat. Let tomatoes soak for 10 minutes, then drain and chop.
- While the tomatoes are soaking, place broccoli in a steamer basket over a pot with 1” of water. Bring to a boil, cover and steam for 3-4 minutes or until tender crisp. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water. Drain and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute or until lightly browned. Remove from heat immediately and brush over each crust, leaving a 1” border around the edge.
- Top each pizza with 1/2 cup of the Daiya, then dot with spoonfuls tofu ricotta, the broccoli florets and sun-dried tomatoes. Sprinkle another 1/2 cup Daiya on each pizza, then top with mushrooms and red onions.
- Bake each pizza individually for 12-18 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned. Let cool 5 minutes before slicing.