Vegan MoFo: Margherita toast!  »

More often than not, my easy vegan recipes come from a random craving that needs immediate satisfaction. Margherita toast is no exception: One autumn afternoon in 2010 I had a serious hankering for pizza—not greasy, drippy, stringy-cheesy pizza, but hearty, rich, and healthy: whole grains, chunky veggies, fresh greens, and tons of flavor. With no vegan pizza options in the vicinity, I rolled up my sleeves, opened my refrigerator door, and decided I’d have to get creative. Margherita Toast was soon born, and has become a simple staple in my household ever since.

Depending on the portion, it can be a snack or a full meal, and the flavors are full and rich enough to satisfy cravings for the not-so-super-healthy pizza varieties. Read on, and drool accordingly!

A couple slices of bread (whole grain is obviously best; sprouted is even better!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Roma tomatoes
Fresh ground salt and pepper
Fresh greens (I like arugula, but spinach, mizuna, broccoli rabe, etc. all work too)

vegan cheese alternative (I love Daiya, any flavor)
Tomato sauce
Fresh or dried Italian spices (basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.)
Get creative! Maybe some olives? Mushrooms? Artichoke hearts?

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place one or two (or more!) slices of bread on a baking sheet or sheet of tinfoil. Spread a spoonful of sauce on the bread if you like, or just leave it plain. If you have a taste for cheese, sprinkle a little handful of Daiya (whichever flavor you like) on each piece of bread.

Then lay three or four tomato slices on each piece—slice ‘em thick if you like it hearty, or thin if you prefer a more subtle tomato flavor.

After the oven has preheated, put your creation on the middle rack and let it toast for about 12 minutes, depending on your oven—it may take as little as 10, or as much as 15.

Yank those bad boys out of the oven before they burn, and sprinkle some finely chopped fresh or dried herbs if you’re into it, then toss a good handful of greens on top of the whole mess. Follow that up with a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper, then a drizzle of olive oil over everything. Let it marinate for a minute or two—be patient!—and then feast.

With all the fresh, real, simple ingredients combined, you’ve created a serious taste of Italy. Win!


Hey NYC! Vegan pizza tour this weekend!   »

OMG is right. Our dear reader Tim alerted me to this like 80 months ago and I’m like, Tim! You can’t tell me about things 80 months in advance! Because I forget! But! I actually remembered. Hopefully there are still tickets left. “Tickets for what?” you ask? A vegan pizza bus tour! 

Apparently, October is pizza month. Scott’s Pizza Tours is celebrating in style every Saturday! And first up is this vegan pizza tour: 

October 1 - Learning to Love Your Vegan

Visit pizzerias that will satisfy both vegans and the omnivores alike. Just leave the leather jacket at home. 
Purchase Tickets

Where they are going, I do not know. I’m guessing they are going places that have vegan pizza. That’s what I would do. 

Tim adds: “if I had to guess, I would say it’s probably going to be the dopemobile. I took a spin on the Scott’s Pizza tour bus (a while back in pre-vegan days) and it’s probably the best pizza-centric experience I’ve had since I was 8 and I learned you can even make pizza AT HOME!” He also says Scott is super nice. So, in the words of Spike Lee, get on the bus!


Patxi’s pizza with wine and beer: a love story  »

On Aug. 31, I participated in a Patxi’s pizza, beer, and wine pairing. Let me tell you, I love pizza and beer! I love pizza and wine! I especially love those things for free.

The whole event was what I imagined being on an episode of Check, Please! must feel like—as in, the intense conversations about food and beverages at restaurants. When I was broke, lonely and up too late, living in Chicago, I watched that show all the time. Then, the first time I went to Patxi’s, what do they happen to be filming? Check, Please! Bay Area! You can see my cameo on my favorite show here, at the 1:21 mark. Yes, I am stuffing my face—but with a fork! I don’t know what possessed me to pick up a fork to eat pizza; that never happens, even if it is the instant mess known as Chicago-style. On that fateful night in July, I had a Daiya cheese, spinach, and mushroom-stuffed pizza with Sierra Nevadas. Fullness and contentment to the max!

The second time I went to Patxi’s, it was to take part in these pairings. Also in attendance were Raj Irukulla and Meredith Arthur of Chow, Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy, Personal Sommelier Courtney Chochran and Laiko Bahrs of Patxi’s Pizza and coordinator of the night. I went in all, “I like pizza and beer, yum,” and very quickly felt like a college freshman in a class with seniors. However, I faced my intimidation and ate, drank, even offered some insight (very much to the tune of “pizza, wine, beer, YUM!”).

First vegan pizza! Thin crust with Daiya and tomatoes.

Second vegan pizza! Chicago-style deep dish with Daiya, olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, red bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and red onions.

The wines we drank included zinfandel, cabernet sauvingnon, pinot noir, and sauvignon blanc. The beers included Widmer hefeweizen, Sweetgrass APA, New Dogtown pale ale, and Bud Light.

I concluded that:

  • Pinot noir doesn’t go with pizza or me
  • Zinfandel and cabernet are so very tasty, but too strong for pizza
  • Sauvignon blanc pairs incredibly with spinach salad
  • Sweetgrass APA tastes very similar to Sierra Nevada, is therefore delicious and now my new favorite beer. That means it goes with all foods, all occasions
  • Hefenweizen and pale ales are not my thing and do not go with anything, ever, not even lemons (Sierra Nevada doesn’t count, as it’s darker than a typical Pale Ale)

And, now, I know you are going to think I’m crazy, but Bud Light goes really well with Chicago-style pizza. The entire table agreed! (We also had sampled all of the libations and eaten a lot at the point that the Bud Light was served). Its lightness compliments the flavors of the pizza and doesn’t weigh one down as much as a fuller-bodied/calorie-dense beer.

I learned that I like light beer with pizza. Plus I can totally pack more pizza in my stomach that way. Although, if someone else is buying, I’ll drink whatever is in front of me and it will be just fine!

Laiko emailed the group’s (vegan-relevant) conclusions:

  • Zinfandel was great with the extra-thin-crust pizzas
  • Sauvignon blanc was a nice pairing with cheese or Daiya extra-thin-crust pizzas, light on toppings
  • Cabernets and pinots competed with the tomato sauce and deep-dish flavors
  • Beer paired well with spicier pizza
  • Turns out Bud Light is great with deep-dish with lots of toppings

What do you guys think? What are your favorite adult beverages to pair with pizza?

Perfection! Pizza, wine, and a loose crayon. My pizza fell face flat on my plate as it was being served, but I was all “No problem here!”


Guest post: Finding vegan in the Indianapolis!  »

Finding vegan-friendly places to eat in a new city can be a difficult, frustrating affair; though nothing beats sitting on your patio, sharing a home-cooked meal and some family leisure time by the pool, it’s nice to be able to go out for a good meal. I discovered this recently when I moved to Indianapolis, Ind., a city not widely known for its cuisine or vegan-friendliness. Despite its (lack of) reputation, there are many fantastic restaurants in Indianapolis that cater to vegans and non-vegans alike, making them perfect destinations for families whose members have various dietary restrictions. Five of the best I’ve found so far are 3 Sisters Café, Jasmine Thai, Santorini’s Greek Kitchen, Yats, and ‘Za.

Jasmine Thai
Though there are many Thai restaurants in Indianapolis, my favorite by far is Jasmine Thai. Nestled in a shopping plaza on 96th Street and River Road on the North side of Indy, the cozy dining area and friendly staff provide a pleasant atmosphere. Nearly every dish can be made vegan by substituting tofu for meat and asking for no eggs. Jasmine uses fresh spices and vegetables in all their dishes and will add extra vegetables to any dish for $2, though I found that my Pad Woon-Sen was so jam-packed with veggies that I could scarcely have handled more. If you’re looking for a good, laid-back place to take your family or don’t feel like cooking and are in the mood for some good Thai food, look no further than Jasmine Thai. In addition to being vegan-friendly, it’s a great place to go if you have gluten allergies or celiac disease, because Thai cuisine does not use wheat.

Voted Best Vegetarian/Vegan Option in Nuvo's Best of Indy 2010 awards, Yats is Indy's preeminent Cajun/Creole restaurant chain. With locations in Broad Ripple, downtown, Fishers, and Greenwood, it's easy to find an accessible spot. The menus at each location rotate daily, so it's best to ask which items are vegan, though dishes like succotash are on the menu more often than not. Each dish comes with buttered bread, so letting the staff know that you're seeking a vegan option is recommended. Yats is a great restaurant to take a family if you're looking for a fast-paced, colorful night out. Also, the Broad Ripple location is just half a mile from Cantebury Park, making it a great place to bring take-out and spend some time with your children.

Santorini’s Greek Kitchen
Located in Fountain Square in central Indianapolis, Santorini’s Greek Kitchen is a family-owned authentic Greek restaurant with several vegan-friendly options, including lahanosalata (cabbage salad), soupa me bizelia (split pea soup) and spanakopita (spinach pie—make sure to ask them to leave out the feta). Popular vegan appetizers include hummus, tzaziki, baba ganoush and Santorini tomato balls. Santorini’s is the most expensive of these three restaurants, with appetizers costing around $7 and main dishes running between $12 and $18, but the food is fantastic and the atmosphere is friendly and inviting. Why not top off an evening out with the family by visiting Santorini’s? The friendly staff and energetic atmosphere will make you feel like you’re at a family reunion with your favorite family members.

Broad Ripple Village, a neighborhood on the north side of Indy, is a treasure trove of fantastic restaurants. It’s also where you’ll find ‘Za Pizzeria, a small late-night pizza joint that makes their dough in-house and uses all fresh ingredients. Their only menu options are pizza and breadsticks, so it’s very, very niche. They have a specialty vegan pizza, the VeganZa, which uses Daiya and a choice of two toppings for $22 for a 14-inch or $28 for an 18-inch pie. The atmosphere is light, with a small dining room painted in a bright orange. It’s not an ideal place to take a large group of people, but they do offer delivery, so you can easily enjoy some ‘Za in the comfort of your home.

3 Sisters
Another gem of Broad Ripple, 3 Sisters Café is a family-friendly eatery established in a beautiful old house. With creaky wooden floors and large windows, you’ll feel more like you’re eating at grandma’s than at a restaurant. The food is absolutely amazing. They serve non-vegetarian and vegan dishes, so you’ll have to pay special attention to the menu when you’re ordering, though vegan dishes are marked. Some of the most delectable available are the multigrain porridge, and the black bean burger. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable about the food and can help you find what you need.

If you know where to go, Indianapolis has a wide variety of fantastic restaurants that are suitable for both vegans and non-vegans, making them ideal places to take mixed groups. If you live or travel in the Indianapolis area, give each of these places a try; they all bring something unique—and delicious—to the table.

Joe Baker is a health fanatic who hates anything processed. His hobbies include adventure racing, Krav Maga, and horseback riding. Eating right makes these possible, so do it.

[“View of Indianapolis” by Edward Sachse, 1854, via Yale Digital Commons]


Reader Mike from Santa Cruz sent this photo of his giant, gorgeous pizza made with homegrown zucchini, artichoke hearts, and Daiya. “The crust is a wonderful made-to-order vegan crust from the Grateful Bread Company in Sacramento.”
It looks so good, I want to put it in my face, like, yesterday. Thanks, Mike!
Want to share your pretty food with Vegansaurus? Of course you do!

Reader Mike from Santa Cruz sent this photo of his giant, gorgeous pizza made with homegrown zucchini, artichoke hearts, and Daiya. “The crust is a wonderful made-to-order vegan crust from the Grateful Bread Company in Sacramento.”

It looks so good, I want to put it in my face, like, yesterday. Thanks, Mike!

Want to share your pretty food with Vegansaurus? Of course you do!


Garlic scape pesto pizza! Beautiful, right?
I haven’t seen pretty food photos from any of you readers in a million years! You should send me some.
Update: Oh look, here’s the recipe.
[photo by miriamwilcox via flickr]

Garlic scape pesto pizza! Beautiful, right?

I haven’t seen pretty food photos from any of you readers in a million years! You should send me some.

Update: Oh look, here’s the recipe.

[photo by miriamwilcox via flickr]


Human blood transfusion pizza from Tim over at Vegetal Voracity. Human blood whaa? Tim! That is a terrible name for pizza! That’s like Pizza 101: don’t name it that. JK, brah. You can call it whatever you want. A pizza by any other name, etc.

Human blood transfusion pizza from Tim over at Vegetal Voracity. Human blood whaa? Tim! That is a terrible name for pizza! That’s like Pizza 101: don’t name it that. JK, brah. You can call it whatever you want. A pizza by any other name, etc.


Two San Francisco vegan events to be aware of, OK?  »

First, this Saturday there’s a vegan cupcake-off in Oakland and you’re invited.

And on Thursday, June 16, Patxi’s is having a VEGAN PIZZA FEST. Plus, they have a contest that’s up beforehand where you can win prizes for creating magical vegan pizzas. Or something like that, I don’t know the total details, but go read about it!

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. CUPCAKES AND PIZZA, what more do you people want!? Make it happen, cap’n!

For further excitement… here’s a CUPCAKE:

and some PIZZA:


North Bay vegan eats: Slice of Life  »

I arrived in California 16 months ago after a four-day trip, with two cats, across the country from New York. When we pulled into town, we were disgruntled, like only a five-hour drive through the blizzarding wilds of southern Wyoming in January can make you, and deeply in need of some comfort and quiet. Through some trick of fate, we ended up by the Whole Foods in Sebastopol on that quickly-darkening and drizzly winter evening, having resigned ourselves to a dinner of cold, prepackaged food. Have I mentioned that I’m a total food snob? I am. Then, as we headed into the bright grocery store from the gloom and damp of the parking lot, I spotted a sign on a small restaurant storefront, tucked snugly between a video store and a hair salon. A cursory glance at the menu confirmed my hopes: Pizza. And it was goooood. I’m not going to lie to you.

Slice of Life
, Sebastopol’s comfortable little diner, has since become a staple for us. This all-vegetarian restaurant features a varied menu with macrobiotic salads and platters, Mexican, Italian, all-day breakfast, and, of course, pizza. The pizza’s a little pricey. A large with a few toppings and soy cheese will set you back a cool $30. But the crust and sauce are all fresh and homemade, and they have veggie pepperoni! Bring on the fake meats! Of course, one can’t get a $30 pizza every day of the week—if you can, I want to hunt you down and kill you—so we were eventually obliged to explore the rest of the menu.

Unfortunately for you, I’m so single-minded that I order the same things over and over again. Fortunately for you, that means I am completely qualified to sing the praises of the Slice of Life breakfast menu. Particularly wonderful are the Tofu Om-lets. Though (much to my chagrin) available only on weekend mornings, these are tasty and available in a standard configuration of onions, mushrooms, and cheese or as a Greek version of the same with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. They don’t always get the cheese as melty as I’d like it, and believe me when I tell you I am freaking well acquainted with the trials and travails of melting vegan cheese. I suspect that this is due to their exclusive use of Follow Your Heart mozzarella, which is excellent news for the Daiya-haters among us. (I know you’re out there. I don’t understand your ways.)

Should you find yourself at Slice of Life outside the Tofu Om-let window, don’t despair; order the Tofu Rancheros or the Tofu Parmesan. Add soy cheese to either for a paltry sum and relax back into the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with supporting a vegetarian business. And because you’ve only got just the one life to live, you might was well order a pancake or two. That’s right: vegan pancakes. Incidentally, these are also wheat-free for our grain-challenged friends. Then go home and join me in wondering why pancakes aren’t vegan everywhere. It’s SO FREAKING SIMPLE. 

[To check out Vegansaurus’ other recommendations for Northern California, go here! Or you can just get outta town with the suggestions here!]

Marla Wick lives in Sebastopol, a small community in Sonoma County, Calif., where people never change out of their yoga pants. She spends her time cooking, baking, knitting, and raging about politics when she’s not working as a freelance editor and writer. She blogs about food, animal ethics, cultural politics, and horror movies at Vegan-Squared and Bully Pulp.


Patxi’s Chicago Pizza is opening in the Inner Sunset!  »

So many incredible and amazing things come out of Chicago. Top 5: The Handlebar, Sultan’s Market, Mercy for Animals, me (I’m actually from the Bay Area, but I lived there for three years) and CHICAGO-STYLE PIZZA! I had it a few times before I went vegan, and man, is it decadent (by which I mean super, amazingly delicious)! Now that I live in San Francisco, I no longer have to go without, because everything is veganized here!

Although I haven’t eaten at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza yet, that my friends, is about to change. They are opening up a new location in the Inner Sunset! That’s almost right by my apartment! I can get some exercise walking over there before I gorge on a 5,000-calorie pizza (junk food is junk food—actually I’m TOTALLY in denial about that. The onion rings I just devoured were HELLA HEALTHY. My body is a temple and it is just thriving!).

Patxi’s is opening its fourth location late this summer/possibly fall, at Ninth Avenue and Irving Street. My apartment JUST SO happens to be conveniently located between Escape From New York and the future Patxi’s. I can get my daily serving of fruits and vegetables from pizza alone, can’t I? Yes? Goodbye outside world, I’m only leaving the house to eat pizza. Or pay the delivery guy. Or go to work to pay for said pizza. Actually, this is beginning to sound like the life I currently lead.

While trying to find vegan Chicago-style pizza IN Chicago, I stumbled upon this recipe from Quarrygirl. FUCK YES.

Patxi’s will be located at 822 Irving St. and its first East Bay location will open June 15 in Lafayette, at 3577 Mt. Diablo Blvd.! Lafayette?
OMG, how could I forget about OLD STYLE??? I wonder if Patxi’s can get a hold of this delicious beverage for the complete Chicago experience?

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