Cashew Pesto Pizza with Oven Dried Tomatoes
This pizza is...vegan??? Yes — it's true. And it's delicious. The cashews give it some bulk and warmth that you usually get from cheese, and the combo of sweet, caramelized onion with shallots adds depth.
This cashew pesto, courtesy of Claire, is what dreams are made of. Slightly sweet, super filling, and fresh, it can be used just as nicely on sandwiches, with pasta, or, obviously, on pizza. You'll barely tell you're missing the cheese, truly.
I bulked up the pizza dough on this since I was using my big, 12" cast iron. If you prefer a thinner crust, use the pizza dough here. Then, to avoid the dreaded soggy middle (should I just say soggy bottom??) of the pizza, you'll want to pre-cook it quickly. This just firms everything up, and means you can use as much tomato sauce as you want without losing shape.
2 1/4 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for bowl
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
16 oz cashews
5 oz spinach (from about 1 small box)
2 cloves garlic, halved
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup olive oil
4 roma tomatoes, sliced, ends removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon), for sprinkling
Olive oil, for drizzling
Make the pesto: Place cashews in a medium bowl and cover with water. Let soak until soft, about 2 hours. (But really, just soak them as long as you have time! No big deal if it's only 30 mins). Drain and place in food processor. Add spinach, garlic, and salt and pulse. While pulsing, drizzle in olive oil and process until smooth. Set aside.
Make the dough: Put the flour, yeast, salt and olive oil in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 3/4 cup water through the feed tube. Process until the mixture forms a slightly sticky ball, about 30 seconds. If the mixture is too dry, add more water 1 tablespoon at a time and process for 5 to 10 seconds after each addition. If the mixture refuses to come together, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time and process until it does.
Rub a little olive oil or sprinkle a little flour onto your hands and shape the dough into a ball. Set in bowl, cover with plastic and let rest at room temperature until the dough doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. You can also refrigerate for several hours, deflating if necessary if it threatens to burst the plastic. Let it return to room temperature before proceeding.
Reshape the dough into a ball. Put it on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour and cover with a damp kitchen towel. Let rest for about 20 minutes. In the meantime...
Make the tomato sauce: In a small saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook briefly until fragrant (don't let it burn). Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let come to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer until most liquid has disappeared, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Roast the roma tomatoes: Preheat oven to 375. On a small rimmed baking sheet, spread out tomatoes. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss gently. Cook tomatoes until almost dry (they'll continue drying while they bake on the pizza), about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Cook the onion: In a small skillet, heat a slick of oil over medium heat. Add onion and stir frequently, until golden and soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the crust: Heat oven to 425. Sprinkle cornmeal across bottom of 12" cast iron skillet. Toss the dough so it's a 14" circle and place in skillet, making sure crust goes up the sides of the pan about an inch. Cook until no longer sticky, 6 minutes. Remove from oven, and get ready for toppings!
Assemble pizza: Spread tomato sauce across pizza crust (you'll use most of it). Spoon 1 tablespoon drops of pesto across tomato sauce (you'll have plenty left over). Top pesto with caramelized onion, then dried tomato slices, and finally shallots. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and drizzle with olive oil. Move to oven and cook, until crust is golden brown, 18 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for a minute to cool down, slice, and EAT!